“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2015): The Royals and the Inevitable Hangover

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. Previous installments can be found here. Today, we look at the Royals.

The Royals had a wild ride last season, driving through the postseason like they stole it. And they would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that meddling Bumgarner.

However, now the hard part: moving on. 2014 is over, the sweeping of the Angels and Orioles is in the past. Alex Gordon’s dash to third base is now but a memory.

And, perhaps most importantly, some of the key players from last season are gone. James Shields is now in San Diego. Billy Butler, long a mainstay in Kansas City, now is in Oakland. Nori Aoki is now a Giant. Josh Willingham, who hit a game-tying single in the Wild Card game last year, has retired.

To be sure, additions have been made and young players will continue to improve, but, well, it will be hard for the Royals of this season to match the run of last year, because getting to the World Series is hard. It’s a cold truth.

So, sorry, Royals fans, but it’s fairly likely you are in for a disappointment this year. But, rest assured, a bright future may still lay ahead, if the prospects work out.

But if not, hold on to those memories of 2014… because it was quite the achievement in itself.

Last Night in One GIF (AL Wild Card 2014)

Image

Through the postseason, I’ll be posting a GIF that summarizes the events of the previous night.

That’s how everybody felt, George Brett. That’s how everyone felt.

2014 SEASON PREVIEW (PART 3): Best Case/Worst Case for… the AL CENTRAL (with Getty Images)

We continue our big preview of the MLB Season by looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the AL Central. And, what’s more, that includes Getty Images, no matter how irrelevant the picture is.

Detroit Tigers

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Best-Case Scenario: Who need Prince Fielder? They have Miguel Cabrera still, and their starting rotation is still one where the reigning Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer, may not even be the ace, due to Justin Verlander. And they now have Joe Nathan as their closer! With that, there can only be one best-case scenario: World Series Title.

Worst-Case Scenario: The Tigers are seized and sold to pay off Detroit’s bankruptcy debt.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: Joe Nathan starts showing his age, Verlander’s below-average-by-his-standards season last year turns out to have been the start of his decline, and it turns out that maybe Miguel Cabrera did need Prince Fielder. And even then, they still probably are in the playoff hunt.

Cleveland Indians

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Best-Case Scenario: They make the playoffs again, and actually make it farther than the Wild Card game this time.

Worst-Case Scenario: Nick Swisher secedes from the Union to found the state of “Brohio”.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: With two pitchers (Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir) having left in Free Agency, the depth isn’t what it used to be, and the Indians are left in the dust in the AL Central.

Kansas City Royals

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Best-Case Scenario: The youngsters make a great leap forward, James Shields continues to do well, and the Royals sneak in as a Wild Card.

Worst-Case Scenario: Young guys flop or get hurt, James Shields starts to take a downturn, and the Royals fall back into the total basement.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above. I couldn’t come up with anything outrageous for the Royals.

Minnesota Twins

Best-Case Scenario: Joe Mauer wins the batting title and upsets both Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis for the 1st-base starting spot at the All-Star Game. The new pitchers turn out to be genius moves. The Twins end the season near .500 and plenty of good prospects in their future.

Worst-Case Scenario: Joe Mauer goes outside Justin Morneau‘s house to play 1980s power ballads from an oversized stereo system. Hurts himself lifting that stereo. Misses rest of season.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: The pitchers brought in flop, Mauer doesn’t improve all that much playing every day at 1B, or, worse, gets hurt. Prospects get hurt or hit a ceiling. Last place. Glen Perkins is the lone Twins All-Star at Target Field after Josh Willingham‘s “Final Vote” campaign falls short due to the fact he’s going against Derek Jeter, who will end up in the ASG this year, no matter how or what, even if he’s hitting .220.

Chicago White Sox

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Best-Case Scenario: The Jose Abreu signing is genius and some other stuff goes right (primarily with the pitching staff), and the White Sox are a surprise contender for awhile before fading in the second half.

Worst-Case Scenario: They do more-or-less what they did last year, and Paul Konerko gets so depressed he decides to retire early.

Worst-Case Scenario That Could Actually Happen: See above, only presumably without the Konerko retirement.

Next on the list of Best Case/Worst Case: The AL West.

Baseball Haiku Project #8: 1992 Fleer Bill Pecota

In which I write Haiku-style poetry about a potpourri of baseball cards I found in a value pack. Because, well, it’s my blog.

1992 Fleer Bill Pecota

92FleerPecota

He’s Bill Pecota

Has a sabermetric stat

that’s named after him

So about the weekend…

Things we learned over the weekend:

The Dodgers have a lot of money

You know how I wrote that analogy of how the Yankees are like Godzilla sleeping between rampages? Well, the Dodgers think that’s adorable. This weekend, they’ve signed Zack Greinke for $147 million dollars,  Korean ace Hyun-Jin Ryu for $36 million and presumably the moon for a few billion dollars they had left over. For the first time since the ill-advised 1998 Orioles, it looks like a team will top the Yankees in the payroll column.

But, interestingly, the Dodgers aren’t getting as much hate as the Yankees do when they go on sprees like this. I have a theory: The Yankees’ public image is of the Steinbrenner family and it’s surrogates, old money with a superiority complex, real or imagined, and with the YES network filled with varying degrees of homerism. By contrast, the public face of the Dodgers’ ownership is Magic Johnson, one of the most beloved sports figures in America, and their games are called by Vin Scully. Add in the fact that there are 20 titles between the two, and it becomes clear that the Dodgers are going to be regarded as benevolent overlords, at least by comparison.

The Dodgers have a lot of pitching

Oh, the other thing: here’s the list of MLB-ready pitchers now on the Los Angeles Dodgers-

Of course, there are only, at most, five rotation spots for these eight guys. Presuming that perhaps they will keep six pitchers (with the sixth pitcher being a long-relief and spot-starter who can go in when somebody inevitably gets hurt), that means that two pitchers, likely Harang and Capuano, will probably be traded. Traded, presumably, for prospects that could one day further reinforce the Dodgers.

The Royals actually have done something, but the Rays may have gotten the better part of the deal.

The big move this morning/late last night is that the Royals and Rays made a trade: James Shields, Wade Davis and a player to be named (or cash) go to the Royals, who send top hitting prospect Wil Myers, pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery, and long-term (he’s still in the low minors) 3B prospect Patrick Leonard.

In the short-term, perhaps, the Royals have gotten the better part of the deal, getting “Big Game” James Shields, a perennial Cy Young Aaward candidate, as well as fellow MLB pitcher Wade Davis. But in the long-term, this could be a disastrous move for the Royals. They gave up four prospects, three of whom were on Baseball America‘s list of the minors’ top 100 prospects. Myers is said to be one of the best power-hitting prospects in all of baseball, Odorizzi had a brief stint in the majors last year and had a 3.03 ERA between AA and AAA last season and Montgomery isn’t as big a prospect as he once was but could still blossom into a big league pitcher. The Rays will be able to have these players for at least another five or six years.

And for this, the Royals get Shields for two years, and Wade Davis for maybe three or four years. And even with these upgrades, it’s unlikely that the Royals will be able to compete in the AL Central, although perhaps it makes them a outside contender for a Wild Card spot.

Could the Royals still “win” this deal? Of course. But I agree with many of the other people online: the Rays will probably win this deal in the long run.