Another year lost.
That is what we have seen this year, like so many other years, from the Royals. Another year of expectations not met, another year of a losing record, another year of failure. But how can it all turn around? They clearly have talent in place in a lot of areas. They have some guys who have the ability to perform next year, such as Alex Gordon in left, Billy Butler at DH, Alcides Escobar at shortstop, Salvador Perez at catcher, Mike Moustakas at third, and Lorenzo Cain in Center.
If you do a quick evaluation of this team, you will see that the Royals currently rank 9th in the AL in On Base Percentage (OBP). You will notice that we have about six regular players with league or better On-base numbers (League average is about a .320 On-base percentage) (Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Alcides Escobar, Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, and Chris Getz). If you weed out the players who don’t have above average OBP numbers (Below a .340 OBP), you only get Alcides Escobar, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, and Salvador Perez. In order to be a winner in 2013 and beyond, we need to constantly be evaluating the team’s on-base stats, and we need to consistently have an above-average overall team OBP (at least .330). You see that teams like the Rangers, the Tigers, the Yankees, the Cardinals, the Red Sox, and the Braves (All fairly consistent winners) have high team OBP numbers. If we want to be a team like those teams, we need to focus on getting on base.
If you dig a little further (And trust me, you don’t need to dig much further to see this glaring issue), you will see that we have practically no starting pitching. We are 11th out of 14 AL teams in ERA, and if you look deeper into the stats, you will see that we do not have a single starter with an ERA+ over 100 (Which basically means we do not have a single starter who is even average). We can safely assume that Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy (our only two starters who can be expected to have ERA+ numbers over 100) are going to be gone for at least most of the season. We can also assume that Jake Odorizzi will not immediately contribute to our starting pitching woes. The bullpen is playoff-caliber, but we need a complete overhaul to the starting rotation.
To recap, here is what the Royals need to contend next year and beyond:
1: An above average team OBP.
2: five pitchers each with an ERA+ over 90.
3: To make some shrewd moves on the market during the offseason to acquire these luxuries.
During the offseason, the Royals will have a payroll of roughly $50 Million and a budget of roughly $20 Million without any additions or subtractions.
If you take Hochevar and Chen’s salary out of the equation, we would have a salary of roughly $30 million this offseason. If you take even 1/4th of Jeff Francoeur’s salary out of the equation, we would have a budget of $33 Million.
With that money (Even if we don’t dump Francoeur) and our resources in the minors, we should have more than enough to acquire 3 starting pitchers who are at least decent, and a right handed bat at second base with a decent OBP (Jeff Keppinger is an example, or we could just call up Johnny Giavotella) to platoon at second with Chris Getz.
There are plenty of options on the starting pitching market this offseason. From top free agent targets such as Zack Grienke, Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson, Shaun Marcum, and (potentially) Jake Peavy, to potential trade targets such as James Shields, Josh Beckett, Josh Johnson, and Jason Vargas, the market is the deepest it has been in years. The Royals should have no trouble finding at least a few legitimate starting pitching options.
There will be a lot more speculation as to what the Royals do this offseason, but I thought I would give you a primer for what to expect from now until Opening Day next year.
The Kansas City Royals announced that the club has reached an agreement on a multi-year contract with Alcides Escobar. The contract starts with four guaranteed years through the 2015 season, then club options for the following two seasons: 2016 and 2017. The contract is designed to pay him $1 million this year and $3 million in each of the years 2013-14-15. The club options are for $5.25 million in 2016 with a $500,000 buyout and $6.5 million in 2017 with a $500,000 buyout.
The 25-year-old Escobar had his first season with the Royals in 2011 after being obtained in a six-player trade with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010. The defensive standout tied for the Major League lead with playing in 158 games at shortstop with 459 assists and 271 putouts. The defensive minded Escobar had a .254 batting average with 21 doubles, 8 triples, 4 home runs. In addition, he set his career-best 26 stolen bases, becoming the fourth shortstop in Royals history to steal 20+ bases in a season. He started extremely slow with the bat last year but turned his fate over in the later half. Escobar hit .286 from June 7 through the remainder of the season. Escobar has worked extremely hard this offseason to improve on his average. He will never hit .300 but if the average can get around .280 he and the Royals will be thrilled. When watching Escobar, one can not love how he carries himself. He displays knowledge and love for the game with his glove and determination with his bat. One great aspect to the signing of Escobar is that he has proven his durability.
Now that Escobar has been inked for the future, the Royals currently turn their attention to the injury of newly signed Salvador Perez. Perez partially tore his meniscus. He is expected to be out for 12-14 weeks. He may be held out until the All-Star Break. This injury brings cringes to any former catcher because they realize how important a catchers knees are. The Royals will be slow with pushing the return of Perez. Expect to see Brayan Pena more then planned to give Perez’s knees a break throughout the season. Furthermore, Dayton Moore has been looking around through free agency for a catcher. A possible candidate is Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. Pudge hit only .218 with 2 home runs. Another possible but unlikely option would be Jason Varitek What he does bring is excellent leadership and tremendous defense. There are other options to fill Perez’s shoes but for now Pena is the answer.
While fans want Eric Hosmer to be the next Royals signed to a long-term deal, I expect Alex Gordon to be next on the list because of the numbers he managed to put up last year. The two sides have tried to find a suitable contract this past offseason but were unable to meet each others wants.
When the Kansas City Royals announced that Salvador Perez will be the catcher though 2019 I was ecstatic. My initial thought was this is a huge signing not only because of what he does himself, but also because of the familiarity that the pitchers will have for the future. With all the young pitchers that will be on roster, that familiarity will be huge. The deal is for $7 million 5 years with a club option for 3 years. The total amount through incentives is $26.75. When the announcement was made that the major signing was for Salvador Perez some “fans” on twitter mocked the signing saying this is not major because it is not Hosmer or Gordon. This signing is fits the major mold perfectly.
For the Royals to sign a player with comparisons drawn to Pudge Rodriguez and Sandy Alomar Jr. for such a low price allows room for Dayton Moore to work with contracts for Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. The most realistic comparison I can think of is Yadier Molina. While both Molina and Perez have the arm strength, bat speed, patience, and all other skills needed to play at the major league level, the true aspect that sets them apart from most other catchers is their baseball IQ. Watching Perez as a rookie pick runners off at first base was astonishing. First for a rookie to realize and risk throwing to first, but to actually execute is amazing.
Salvador Perez will bring an intensity to that ballpark that a young team needs. He is a kid that loves the game and he treats the game with the utmost respect. Ned Yost has had beyond high praise for Perez in his Media Session last year.
“He’s got a nice, compact swing. He puts the ball in play, and he doesn’t strike out,” Yost said. “Those are pretty key ingredients to having a productive swing.”
“I think he’s got a chance to be the total package,” said Yost, himself a former big league catcher. “He can be an All-Star-type defender, and he can swing the bat.”
“He blocks the ball as well as anybody I’ve seen. He’s got as quick of a release as I’ve ever seen. He’s very coordinated. He’s very accurate, and given the opportunity, he’s going to throw out a lot of runners.”
Yost pointed out that the Royals pitching staff hasn’t been giving Perez the best opportunity to throw guys out because they are not getting the ball to the plate quick enough. Getting the ball to the plate quicker is all about a pitcher’s delivery, and speeding up their delivery time is going to be a point of emphasis next spring, Yost mentioned.
“If we’ve got a catcher that can throw like he can, we’ve got to have the ability to give him the opportunity to throw runners out,” Yost said.
Interview from http://royals.mlblogs.com/2011/09/16/ned-yost-media-session-salvador-perez/
Overall, the signing of Perez is just one move towards the future. While it may be a “major” signing, the major obstacle is signing Eric Hosmer. Dayton Moore and the Royals will most likely have to overpay for Hosmer. There will be some amount that is enough to keep Hosmer, the Royals need to find that number and find it quickly before it raises. I expect Salvador Perez to make two All-Star games during this contract because of his talent and lack of talent at the catcher position in the American League. Yes Joe Mauer is the best in the AL but there will always be a back up catcher for the All-Star game.