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Contemplating the Royals... and the Twins

The Kansas City Royals are going to the World Series. The AL Central team that was seemingly in a perennial rebuild suddenly has put itself in a great position. They won the 1985 World Series and this is the first time since then that they've been back in the playoffs. They have now gone 8-0 this postseason and will represent the American League in the World Series.

The Twins have had a run of four-straight 90-loss seasons, so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the Royals roster and see how their players were acquired. Are there similarities between the Twins and the Royals?
Image courtesy of Danny Medley, USA Today
THE CORE

I always write and talk about how important it is for the Twins to develop their core and then supplement it with free agents or through trades to find final pieces. Both the 1987 and 1991 World Series championship Minnesota Twins teams had strong cores. Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek and Greg Gagne were part of both cores. The 1987 team included Tom Brunansky, Gary Gaetti and Frank Viola who were on the team when they were losing a lot of games. Dan Gladden, Juan Berenguer and Jeff Reardon were added. Gladden became part of the core of the 1991 team.

At the core of the Royals roster have been four first-round picks.

Billy Butler was the 14th overall pick in the 2004 draft. Alex Gordon was the #2 overall pick in the 2005 draft. Mike Moustakas was the second overall pick in the 2007 draft, and Eric Hosmer was the #3 pick in the 2008 draft. All four of these players have certainly had their ups and downs in their big league career. Fans complain about the lack of power shown by Butler and Hosmer. Alex Gordon struggled early in his career and switched positions. Mike Moustakas has struggled with the bat, and in fact, he was sent down to AAA this year because he was playing so poorly.

Other guys whom they have drafted and developed are around the roster. Closer Greg Holland was the team’s 10th round pick in 2007. Lefty Danny Duffy was their third round pick in 2008. Jarrod Dyson was the team’s 50th round pick in 2006. Yes, I meant to type 50th.

In addition, the Royals signed some of their new, expanded core as international free agents. Flamethrower Yordano Ventura was signed from the Dominican Republic in 2008. Fellow triple-digit tosser Kelvin Herrera signed in 2006. Salvador Perez, who is one of the best catchers in baseball offensively and defensively, signed out of Venezuela in 2006.

In addition, reliever Brandon Finnegan became the first person, ever, to play in the College World Series and the Major League World Series in the same year. The lefty pitched for TCU this spring, was selected with the 17th overall pick in June, and was up in September. He played a huge role in the Division Series.

TRADES

The Royals then made a few trades that have had a huge effect on their roster, and on this year’s results. There were a couple of completely opposite trades.
When the Royals were struggling and had a terrific starting pitcher in Zach Greinke, they were able to trade him to Milwaukee. The Brewers sent to Kansas City Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi, and the ALCS MVP Lorenzo Cain in that deal.

Odorizzi was on the other end of a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays two years ago. Instead of acquiring prospects, the Royals traded one of baseball’s top prospects, Wil Myers, along with Odorizzi and more in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis. Shields had become an ace for the Rays and pitched in the playoffs and the World Series. Davis was a soft-throwing starter who was being moved to the bullpen. The Royals gave him a shot to start last year, but he became arguably baseball’s most dominant reliever in 2014.

In addition, the Royals traded soft-tossing lefty reliever Will Smith to the Brewers last offseason for outfield Nori Aoki. They acquired reliever Jason Frasor at the trade deadline for a minor leaguer. They also got Josh Willingham from the Twins in mid-August.

FREE AGENCY

With that core having gained some experience and the Royals starting to show signs of life, they supplemented their team with some free agent signings.
In July of 2012, the Royals traded lefty Jonathan Sanchez to the Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie. Both pitchers had struggled immensely and maybe a change of scenery would help. Well, Guthrie pitched well down the stretch in 2012 and turned it into a three year deal worth $25.2 million deal with the Royals. Though he has been about league average in those 2 1/2 years, he has worked a combined 505.1 regular-season innings for the Royals.

After letting Ervin Santana go elsewhere after the 2013 season, the Royals signed very soft-tossing left-hander Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 million contract. The move was widely criticized at the time, but Vargas has pitched well in the first year.

After trotting out guys like Johnny Giavotella and Chris Getz at second base in recent years, the Royals gave Omar Infante a four year, $30.25 million contract to be their second baseman. Granted, the 32-year-old hit just .252/.295/.337 (.632), but he has 13 years of big league experience which likely helped the club in some way.

After getting released by the Angels in June, veteran Raul Ibanez signed with the Royals. He hit just .188 with six extra base hits in 90 plate appearances.

Consider this: Had the Twins gone out and signed free agents like Guthrie, Vargas and Infante, would those moves have excited the Twins fan base? Do they scream "OK, now, we're heading to the World Series?"

SUMMARY

The Royals have a fairly young core of talent that should allow them to make a run for a few years. In their regular lineup, Omar Infante is the only hitter over the age of 30. Salvador Perez and Eric Hosmer are still under 25 while Billy Butler, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakus are all 28 or less.

Yordano Ventura is 23, and Danny Duffy is 25. Meanwhile, James Shields becomes a free agent at the end of the year and the 32-year-old could bolt for big money. Jeremy Guthrie is 35 and Jason Vargas is 32. They’ll need to develop a couple more pitchers and possibly sign one or two to replace Shields.

The bullpen is full of hard throwers, and they are quite young. The forgotten name might be 2009 first-round pick Aaron Crow who was very good the last couple of years before struggling a little bit in 2014.

A reminder of the Royals first round picks in the last decade:

· 2004 (14) – Billy Butler – High School
· 2005 (2) – Alex Gordon – College – Nebraska
· 2006 (1) – Luke Hochevar – College – Tennessee
· 2007 (2) – Mike Moustakas – High School
· 2008 (3) – Eric Hosmer – High School
· 2009 (12) – Aaron Crow – College – Missouri
· 2010 (4) – Christian Colon – College – Cal State Fullerton
· 2011 (5) – Bubba Starling – High School
· 2012 (5) – Kyle Zimmer – College – San Francisco
· 2013 (8) – Hunter Dozier – College – Stephen F. Austin
· 2013 (34) – Sean Manaea – College – Indiana State
· 2014 (18) – Brandon Finnegan – College – TCU

The Royals have had a boatload of very high draft picks and for the most part, they have made good on them. Hochevar was moved to the bullpen in 2013 and posted an ERA south of two. He had Tommy John surgery this spring. Colon made his MLB debut in 2014. Starling, Zimmer and Dozier are all participating in the Arizona Fall League.

HOW DO THE TWINS COMPARE?

Are the Twins doing any of the things that have made the Royals successful this year?

The draft has been a struggle in the last decade, though they have had their successes as well:

· 2004 – Trevor Plouffe (20), Glen Perkins (22)
· 2005 – Matt Garza (25)
· 2006 – Chris Parmelee (20)
· 2007 – Ben Revere (28)
· 2008 – Aaron Hicks (14)
· 2009 – Kyle Gibson (22)
· 2010 – Alex Wimmers (21)
· 2011 – Levi Michael (30)
· 2012 – Byron Buxton (2), Jose Berrios (32)
· 2013 – Kohl Stewart (4)
· 2014 – Nick Gordon (5)


While the Royals were accumulating high first-round picks for a decade, the Twins were competing (and often winning) division titles. Only in the last three drafts (and the 2015 draft) have the Twins had high picks. It will be important for the Twins long-term success to have those guys hit.

The Twins now have Kyle Gibson and Trevor May as young starters in their rotation.

They have added free agents Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes last year. Hughes out-pitched all but a handful of starters in the American League in 2014 while Nolasco showed how hard free agent pitchers can be to judge with a rough first season. Obviously, for the Twins to compete in 2015 and 2016, Nolasco will have to return to at least mediocrity. The team also continues to have hope for Alex Meyer, hoping he can become a top-of-the-rotation starter. So will they add another high-priced free agent starter to the mix as the Royals have in recent years?

The Royals bullpen is among the best in baseball, and they are a huge reason why the Royals have yet to lose a game in the playoffs. They are able to bring in hard-thrower after hard-thrower to dominate. They drafted Finnegan with the 17th overall pick this year. The Twins drafted Nick Burdi with the 46th overall pick and he has thrown a legitimate 102 mph fastball with a 90+ mph slider. Third round pick Michael Cederoth will get a chance to start, but he was clocked at 100 in college this year. Fifth round pick Jake Reed hit 98, and according to Jason Kanzler (in a Twins Hangouts interview on Tuesday night) he has just filthy movement on his pitches. He’s pitching in the AFL now, too. The Twins have about 10 guys in the system who reach 98 or better on their fastballs including Meyer, Zack Jones, JT Chagois and more. Each of these guys has a realistic chance to debut with the Twins in 2015.

Joe Mauer was part of the core in the last decade and will be a big part of the team’s success the next few years. However, the core for the next winning team starts with Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. Hosmer and Moustakas were both among Baseball America’s top 10 prospects prior to the 2011 season. Buxton and Sano were both in BA's top 10 prospects list prior to this season. Though both missed significant time in 2014, they remain among baseball’s elite prospects.

Beyond them, Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario are guys who could come up in the next year or two and compete. JO Berrios took a huge step forward in 2014 as a prospect. It's certainly far to early to know how Kohl Stewart and Nick Gordon will fare over time, but both had good showings in 2014.

Oswaldo Arcia made strides and continued to hit for big power as a 23-year-old in 2014. Danny Santana put up Rookie of the Year numbers this year, though White Sox 27-year-old Jose Abreu will win that award unanimously. Kennys Vargas showed great power in his surprise debut. Brian Dozier (eighth round, 2010) won’t turn 28 until mid-May. Trevor Plouffe will be 28 through the first half of 2015. The Twins need Aaron Hicks to step up in 2015 as well, but the Twins offense was actually pretty good in 2014. Free agent Kurt Suzuki played a role in that.

Another trait of the Twins strong teams has been defense. The Royals defense all
around the diamond has been incredible. There are web gems, yes, but there is also great positioning. This is an area where the Twins have fallen flat, squished, you could say. The Twins defense is dreadful, and in order to help their pitching staff save some runs, it will also have to be a focus.

The Twins aren’t just suddenly going to compete in 2015 unless a lot of things go really well. However, it’s clear what the Twins are building. The next core of hitters and pitchers is just starting to arrive and will continue to do so over the next two years. They will have to take their lumps, no question, just like the Royals core did over the last several years. But there are certainly pieces in place for the Twins to contend within the next couple of seasons, and hopefully for an extended period of time again.

As the Royals have shown this year, it’s about getting to the playoffs and peaking. They certainly aren’t the best team in baseball. They probably aren’t the best team in the American League. Frankly, they weren’t the best team in the American League Central Division this year. However, they have the right pieces in place, in the lineup, on defense and in that bullpen. And right now, Lady Luck is shining on the Royals and they are playing great. Hopefully it will continue through the World Series.

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91 Comments

They have certainly managed to take all the air out of their opponents.  Hosmer and Cain are hot right now, and Moustakas has a half-season of HRs in 8 games.  It's fun to see what momentum can do.

    • birdwatcher likes this
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Paul Pleiss
Oct 16 2014 05:47 AM

All you have to do is get to the post-season, then it's a bit of a crap-shoot. Anything can, and does, happen.

 

This has been one heck of a fun post-season. Can you imagine how much fun it would be to be having this run for the Twins? WOWSERS! It would be awesome to be in this same position as Twins fans in the next two-five years. So much potential.

    • birdwatcher and TheLeviathan like this

Thanks Seth for the informative, POSITIVE article on the Twins chances in the upcoming years!!!

    • birdwatcher likes this

Something to bear in mind as you look at those draft picks - those high first round draft picks of the Royals and those critical international signings took place something between six and nine years ago. If you apply the same timeline to the Twins' situation, you'd be looking at about another five years before the Twins' group of Sano, Polanco, Buxton, Berrios, et al, would be "scheduled" to have the kind of success that the Royals are having this year.

 

Everyone talks as if this next group of Twins prospects are arriving and it means they will be competitive by 2016, but that would assume that all of these new arrivals become productive MLB ballplayers almost immediately upon setting foot on Target Field's grass. But it's far more likely to take a few years more and I'm not sure the fan base, in general, will have that kind of patience at this point.

    • USAFChief, jorgenswest, JB_Iowa and 8 others like this

The Royals went all in after winning 72 games.....that's the biggest delta, imo. They also promoted their RP fast, and didn't make them move up slowly and "prove" they had "nothing left to learn at that level". Oh, they traded a highly ranked prospect or two for proven MLB players. Not some middling prospect, a highly ranked prospect. They did all that before the core proved much of anything in the majors. Most, actually, were struggling. 

 

Out of curiosity, why should the fans, who pay lots of money to see "entertainment" be patient? What does that get the fans?

 

Is anyone on these boards arguing its not about building a core from the minors?

    • USAFChief, chopper0080 and Brananorama like this

Something to bear in mind as you look at those draft picks - those high first round draft picks of the Royals and those critical international signings took place something between six and nine years ago. If you apply the same timeline to the Twins' situation, you'd be looking at about another five years before the Twins' group of Sano, Polanco, Buxton, Berrios, et al, would be "scheduled" to have the kind of success that the Royals are having this year.

 

Everyone talks as if this next group of Twins prospects are arriving and it means they will be competitive by 2016, but that would assume that all of these new arrivals become productive MLB ballplayers almost immediately upon setting foot on Target Field's grass. But it's far more likely to take a few years more and I'm not sure the fan base, in general, will have that kind of patience at this point.

 

I was going to make the exact same point. Moustakas was drafted 7 years ago. Hosmer 6 years ago. Perez and Herrera were signed 8 years ago. 4 years ago they had the top-ranked farm system in baseball and arguably one of the best of all time (5 players in BA top 20). If Buxton/Sano are the Twins' equivalent prospects, and if 2013 was their "best farm system" season, then it could take until 2017 or longer before the Twins return to the playoffs. This rebuild will take patience.

    • birdwatcher likes this

Something to bear in mind as you look at those draft picks - those high first round draft picks of the Royals and those critical international signings took place something between six and nine years ago. If you apply the same timeline to the Twins' situation, you'd be looking at about another five years before the Twins' group of Sano, Polanco, Buxton, Berrios, et al, would be "scheduled" to have the kind of success that the Royals are having this year.

 

Everyone talks as if this next group of Twins prospects are arriving and it means they will be competitive by 2016, but that would assume that all of these new arrivals become productive MLB ballplayers almost immediately upon setting foot on Target Field's grass. But it's far more likely to take a few years more and I'm not sure the fan base, in general, will have that kind of patience at this point.

 

They haven't been patient to this point. In what scenario would they still have patience? But it doesn't really matter either, there isn't some magic wand the Twins can wave to be good. Fans better hope that a decent percentage of the prospects hit or it will be another 2-3 years (at a minimum) wandering in the desert - Terry Ryan or not.

    • birdwatcher likes this

The Royals went all in after winning 72 games.....that's the biggest delta, imo. They also promoted their RP fast, and didn't make them move up slowly and "prove" they had "nothing left to learn at that level". Oh, they traded a highly ranked prospect or two for proven MLB players. Not some middling prospect, a highly ranked prospect. They did all that before the core proved much of anything in the majors. Most, actually, were struggling. 

 

Out of curiosity, why should the fans, who pay lots of money to see "entertainment" be patient? What does that get the fans?

 

Is anyone on these boards arguing its not about building a core from the minors?

 

As fans you don't HAVE to be patient you can vote with your feet and not come to games or invest your time.  The reality is that there are 30 teams competing and some team is going to be the best and another the worst.  The Twins made mistakes for several years and now they are paying for them.  You don't have to be patient and wait for the core to emerge but as a fan I am going to follow them into the abyss and out of it.  They are my team and I am always going to hope for the best. The Twins have gone worst to first before.  They can do it again.  It might just take some time.

    • Seth Stohs, birdwatcher, James Richter and 1 other like this

I suspect the people who complain the most are among the people who spend/invest the least.

    • Beezer07 likes this

All you have to do is get to the post-season, then it's a bit of a crap-shoot. Anything can, and does, happen.

 

This has been one heck of a fun post-season. Can you imagine how much fun it would be to be having this run for the Twins? WOWSERS! It would be awesome to be in this same position as Twins fans in the next two-five years. So much potential.

I have stated this before, I don't agree with this at all. The Royals are built for the postseason. They have good starting pitchers, good defense, and a shut-down bullpen. They've been winning games because of it. 

 

The crapshoot argument has been around for 10 years to justify the terrible play of the Twins in the postseason. Watch the Royals. They have a plan, they position correctly, they make very few mistakes. That is preparation, none of which the Twins showed under Gardy. 

 

They Royals know who they are and are playing to their strengths. This is a good team that underachieved in the regular season IMO. 

    • JB_Iowa, wavedog, adjacent and 3 others like this

I for one would like to congratulate Josh Willingham on making it to the World Series.He waited 11 years to get his first taste of the postseason and I hope it all ends with him getting a ring. 

    • USAFChief, JB_Iowa, Mike Sixel and 9 others like this

I'm happy for all the people that get a first chance at the playoffs. I hope they are having fun.

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Halsey Hall
Oct 16 2014 08:57 AM

Good article Seth.It's certainly fun for me to see the Royals sweep whoever takes them on so far. 

 

When it comes to patience, KC didn't draw all that well lately and I could care less how many fans the Twins claim go to the games.There probably wasn't a realistic head count in the park all year this year.But the true fans will still remain, and eventually be rewarded. 

 

I've stated before that 2018 will be the year, but that could come a year earlier.We should improve a little next year, but '16 should really open some eyes and gather additional fan base.It'll be fun to watch the younger guys grow, and mesh into a team.There'll be growing pains, much like the dieing pains we've gone thru the last 4 years, but at least we will be heading in the right direction.

    • birdwatcher likes this

Good article Seth.It's certainly fun for me to see the Royals sweep whoever takes them on so far. 

 

When it comes to patience, KC didn't draw all that well lately and I could care less how many fans the Twins claim go to the games.There probably wasn't a realistic head count in the park all year this year.But the true fans will still remain, and eventually be rewarded. 

 

I've stated before that 2018 will be the year, but that could come a year earlier.We should improve a little next year, but '16 should really open some eyes and gather additional fan base.It'll be fun to watch the younger guys grow, and mesh into a team.There'll be growing pains, much like the dieing pains we've gone thru the last 4 years, but at least we will be heading in the right direction.

 

Any chance this timeframe coincides with when the Twins finally get rid of Plouffe.

 

I actually think next year is when the young talent at least makes fans intrigued again. But it will take time, because aside from a new manager there won't be massive changes heading into the season.

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Halsey Hall
Oct 16 2014 09:05 AM

I nearly included that, dr, but knew the smart posters would understand that! :)

    • drjim likes this
I've been advocating this on other threads the last day or so and mike wants wins touched on it. One of the things the Twins ought to do is bring up the young RP flamethrowers who have demonstrated success for 2015. Burdi, Reed, Z. Jones for starters. No need to wait until mid-season. Do it right out of Spring Training.

Also, as has been noted on several threads by multiple bloggers and posters here, the Twins had quality offensive production last season. Even accounting for regression, with marginal improvements from players like Arcia, maybe Plouffe, it may be safe to say the offense will hold its own.

To beat a dead horse, defense is an area to be improved upon for next season. Maybe they go out and sign a Rasmus-type, maybe they dont and run with who they've got. Schafer seemed adequate in LF defensively. Maybe he regresses offensively and we end up having to depend on a guy like Hicks who is just as poor offensively. The outfield situation probably changes defensively with the addition of Buxton.

Bottom line: take Burdi, Reed, Z. Jones north at the end of Spring Training; addition by subtraction of Willingham in LF defensively. Let the kids play now!

Bottom line: take Burdi, Reed, Z. Jones north at the end of Spring Training; addition by subtraction of Willingham in LF defensively. Let the kids play now!

 

I like this strategy from the standpoint that it probably allows the FO to nontender arb-eligible relievers and keeps a chunk of the team at league minimum.  With the numbers that smarter posters than me are coming up with for a decent LF signing and the expected payroll ceiling, they might need more room. I think that rolling with young relievers could provide good results, should provide developmental experience, and will provide some budget savings.  We're probably only talking a couple million here and there, but still.

 

And you're right, addition by subtraction of the half season with two of Kubel/Colabello/Hammer/Arcia/Parmelee on the corners.  One is fine, but two of them plus poor routes from Santana/Hicks was....tough to watch.

The "crapshoot" argument has been around for a while because it is true. The best regular season team rarely (recently) wins the World Series. It wasn't invented to justify the Twins bombing out year after year, and it has been used to explain why the Mariners and Yankees missed WS wins in their amazing years and why Wild Card teams and the Giants keep winning.

    • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, James Richter and 1 other like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Oct 16 2014 10:32 AM

The "crapshoot" argument has been around for a while because it is true. The best regular season team rarely (recently) wins the World Series. It wasn't invented to justify the Twins bombing out year after year, and it has been used to explain why the Mariners and Yankees missed WS wins in their amazing years and why Wild Card teams and the Giants keep winning.

Yeah, Kansas City is really getting after it this postseason. Their batters are making them throw strikes and their relievers can really pound the zone. They never give up ;)

The "crapshoot" idea doesn't come into play until later in the series. Like the late innings of a Game 6 or 7 or a funny bounce that breaks an inning open somewhere. A series sweep is not a crapshoot.

EDIT: just trying to have fun with this not derail the thread or refight old battles

The Royals are in the World Series for the first time in 29 years because of one reason and one reason only the starting pitching and bullpen have been fantastic. There bullpen after the 6th inning has been on lock down and they have some real flame throwers. That and Cain and Hosmer have both been hot and Escobar at short stop has solidified there infield defense.

Yeah it helps that they have acquired talent through first round draft picks and it took them a long time to develop but they are there because they took a chance and let one of there top minor league prospects go to acquire a number one starter and bullpen anchor in Shields and Davis, and they got lucky on the down side pick ups of Guthrie and Vargas, both gambles that worked out for them.

 

This is where the Twins need to take a gamble and move a young controllable player like Dozier, Plouffe or Arcia for a starting pitcher that can be an ace or top two of the rotation guy. To me the guy that is most replaceable and likely most marketable are Dozier and Arcia, (Neither guy strikes me as a core must have guy) and Escobar can do everything that Dozier provides.

Put an innings horse with some good junk with Hughes, and Gibson and maybe Nolasco and let May and Alex Meyer fight it out for the last spot. We need some people that can pitch 6 to seven innings besides Huges. 

Free up some salary from the bullpen and get rid of Swarzak, Duensing and cut Jerrod Burton and Milone to me you can non-tender Swarzak, Duensing and Milone and save a lot of money in arbitration and it is not like any one of those three is going to go out and light the world on fire for other teams. Burton is a no brainer cut at 3,000,000 a season he is not worth what he provides. Move Mike Pelfrey to the bullpen and have him be the main long man. Santanna at short stop is a must so we need either Buxton or Hicks to claim center field.

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Brananorama
Oct 16 2014 10:52 AM

The Royals went all in after winning 72 games.....that's the biggest delta, imo. They also promoted their RP fast, and didn't make them move up slowly and "prove" they had "nothing left to learn at that level". Oh, they traded a highly ranked prospect or two for proven MLB players. Not some middling prospect, a highly ranked prospect. They did all that before the core proved much of anything in the majors. Most, actually, were struggling. 

 

Out of curiosity, why should the fans, who pay lots of money to see "entertainment" be patient? What does that get the fans?

 

Is anyone on these boards arguing its not about building a core from the minors?

 

Just to add on to what you said, I don't think the Royals go all in unless the second Wild Card exists. Even though they wound up just a game out of the division title, 72 wins is a lot closer to a playoff spot than it used to be. The Twins won 70 games this year. Who's to say they shouldn't find a way to have a busy offseason this time around?

    • USAFChief and birdwatcher like this

Bottom line: take Burdi, Reed, Z. Jones north at the end of Spring Training; addition by subtraction of Willingham in LF defensively. Let the kids play now!

 

I would add Melotakis to this list as the LH option. I think starting the season with 3-4 relievers without a major league pitch is a little aggressive, but no reason it can't be 1 or 2.

 

Ideally Twins have Perkins and 2 other LH, so that leaves 3 RH and a long man in the pen heading north. Pelfrey is probably long man, and I wouldn't necessarily jump all those three over Tonkin and Pressly or possible FA signing or even guys that might be retained. But yes, let's get Burdi up here.

The Royals are in the World Series for the first time in 29 years because of one reason and one reason only the starting pitching and bullpen have been fantastic. There bullpen after the 6th inning has been on lock down and they have some real flame throwers. That and Cain and Hosmer have both been hot and Escobar at short stop has solidified there infield defense.

Yeah it helps that they have acquired talent through first round draft picks and it took them a long time to develop but they are there because they took a chance and let one of there top minor league prospects go to acquire a number one starter and bullpen anchor in Shields and Davis, and they got lucky on the down side pick ups of Guthrie and Vargas, both gambles that worked out for them.

 

This is where the Twins need to take a gamble and move a young controllable player like Dozier, Plouffe or Arcia for a starting pitcher that can be an ace or top two of the rotation guy. To me the guy that is most replaceable and likely most marketable are Dozier and Arcia, (Neither guy strikes me as a core must have guy) and Escobar can do everything that Dozier provides.

Put an innings horse with some good junk with Hughes, and Gibson and maybe Nolasco and let May and Alex Meyer fight it out for the last spot. We need some people that can pitch 6 to seven innings besides Huges. 

Free up some salary from the bullpen and get rid of Swarzak, Duensing and cut Jerrod Burton and Milone to me you can non-tender Swarzak, Duensing and Milone and save a lot of money in arbitration and it is not like any one of those three is going to go out and light the world on fire for other teams. Burton is a no brainer cut at 3,000,000 a season he is not worth what he provides. Move Mike Pelfrey to the bullpen and have him be the main long man. Santanna at short stop is a must so we need either Buxton or Hicks to claim center field.

 

The Twins have questions at LF and CF and no clear option at 2B right now after Dozier. Why would you trade Arcia and Dozier? Creating holes to fill a hole isn't really a viable strategy.

 

Both of those guys should have similar value next offseason, if the pitching isn't improved by then it might make sense to make a move.

    • birdwatcher likes this

I have stated this before, I don't agree with this at all. The Royals are built for the postseason. They have good starting pitchers, good defense, and a shut-down bullpen. They've been winning games because of it. 

 

The crapshoot argument has been around for 10 years to justify the terrible play of the Twins in the postseason. Watch the Royals. They have a plan, they position correctly, they make very few mistakes. That is preparation, none of which the Twins showed under Gardy. 

 

They Royals know who they are and are playing to their strengths. This is a good team that underachieved in the regular season IMO. 

 

Another thing the Royals have been is incredibly lucky. They haven't swept two series and come back from 4 runs down with 6 outs remaining in an elimination game solely because of good pitching and defense. They've had timely hitting and a high BABIP, which indicates all kinds of luck (the BABIP citation is really hearsay from what I've read on Twitter - for some reason I can't find team postseason BABIP). 

They've also overachieved this season. Their Pythagorean W-L record was 84-78. Their offense was middle of the pack or worse: 14th in runs scored, 18th in wRC+ and wOBA. They were 30th in homeruns during the season, but during the playoffs they've hit the second most homeruns.

The Royals do play very good defense, have good starting pitching, and a very good bullpen, but they've benefited greatly from luck and timely hitting, because the playoffs are a crapshoot.

Photo
James Richter
Oct 16 2014 11:54 AM

Royals starters in 2014:

 

986.2 IP, 6.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, .291 BABIP, 42.1% GB, 3.60 ERA, 4.05 xFIP

 

If that's a championship rotation, the Twins aren't too far away:

 

913.1 IP, 6.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 1.0 HR/9, .325 BABIP, 42.7% GB, 5.06 ERA, 4.08 xFIP

 

Royals hitters in 2014:

 

.263/.314/.376, 95 HR, 153 SB, 94 wRC+

 

If that's a championship lineup, the Twins are right there:

 

.254/.324/.389, 128 HR, 99 SB, 102 wRC+

 

Royals defense in 2014:

 

40 DRS, 61.1 UZR, 74.8 Def

 

If that's a championship defense, the Twins... yikes:

 

-73 DRS, -34.5 UZR, -46.5 Def

 

And the Royals bullpen from 2014:

 

464 IP, 8.7 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9, .293 BABIP, 3.30 ERA, 3.54 xFIP

 

Compared with the Twins:

 

521.2 IP, 6.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9, .296 BABIP, 3.73 ERA, 4.18 xFIP

 

Both teams have flyball rotations and big home parks. The crucial piece is the defense - the BABIP discrepancy more or less accounts for the difference in starters' IP and ERA. If you dig a little deeper into the defensive stats, the Royals IF isn't really any better than the Twins IF. Almost all of that eye-popping defensive value comes from the Royals outstanding OF, while most of the Twins' dreadful defensive ratings come from their OF. If the Twins and Royals had swapped rotations before the season, KC would be just as likely to be in the World Series right now.

 

Conclusion: swap out the meh half of the bullpen for some guys who can miss bats, put some guys in the OF who can actually catch the ball... 80-something wins here we come.

    • jorgenswest, birdwatcher, SwainZag and 1 other like this

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