The Kansas City Royals Five Offseason Points of Emphasis

By Jeremy Sickel

In light of the recent trade with the San Francisco Giants in which the Royals acquired LHPs Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo, I thought it’d be fitting to come up with a small list of items the Kansas city Royals could explore in order to make 2012 a year to remember.

  1. Obtain a top of the rotation right-handed power arm to compliment the Sanchez acquisition. There is much debate as to what the appropriate balance is when it comes to the handling of the pitchers in a starting rotation. Sure, talent overrides everything, but unless you are the Phillies, stockpiling the best pitchers isn’t a realistic option. Sanchez and Danny Duffy are virtual locks for the 2012 starting rotation and Everett Teaford showed enough promise in September that he is a viable candidate as well. Couple that with the fact that most of the top end talent in their system throws from the left side (Montgomery, Dwyer, Lamb, Smith), and it could only indicate that an evening out of some sorts is imperative. Making such a move would undoubtedly require a trade since the Royals are steadfast on not spending money and/or promoting from within.
  2. Trade Joakim Soria and get something very valuable in return while you still can. Soria didn’t quite eradicate all his trade value this past season, but another shaky campaign will finish off the job for sure. If Soria is the chip used to complete objective #1 on this list or to rebuild the farm system, then this move needs to be done like yesterday. The Royals have a very capable replacement for Soria in Greg Holland, who fits the closer mold very well.
  3. Lock up the young, budding stars and show them that you are as committed to them and to winning as they are committed to the organization. The Rays did it with Longoria and the Brewers did the same with Braun. Long term, organization-friendly contracts serve a great purpose in not only showing your gratitude to the players, but the fans as well. With the payroll low right now, inject some financial sunshine into the team; it will be well worth it. Candidates for locking up long-term include Hosmer, Gordon and now Sanchez. The jury is still out on Moustakas, Escobar, Hochevar and Perez.
  4. Figure out what the plan is with Billy Butler and either go all-in with him as the everyday DH here in KC or cut bait and move on. I’m sure Butler is just as tired of the underlying non-commitment as he is the fact that he doesn’t get to play first base all that often. Butler will never perform enough to warrant a huge contract, yet he does his job very well. So either pay that man his money and commit to him or use him as trade bait and reel in either your front line right-handed starting pitcher or stock the cupboard; whichever you don’t do with the Soria trade.
  5. Do not tinker with the offense to the point where guys spend half the season getting used to their new role. Sure, there have been changes that will bring new faces into the clubhouse, but nothing so drastic as to coerce radical modifications. Gordon did a fine job as the lead-off hitter; is he is your prototypical table setter, probably not, but he gets on base, swipes a few bags, runs the bases well and sees pitches. Butler proved that he is still one of your best contact, gap to gap hitters so leave him at #3. Hosmer had his ups and downs, but by the end of the season, he proved himself to be a very capable clean-up hitter that will only increase his power over time. Francoeur had arguably the best year of his career. Will he repeat that? Probably not, but as a #5 hitter that separates the left-handed hitters in the middle of the lineup, he does his job well. In an ideal world Moustakas should have been as productive as Hosmer has been to this point, but the world isn’t all that perfect now is it? He did come on strong in the second half of his rookie campaign and the #6 hole should suit him well. The rest of the spots are fill-ins and we can all throw out our opinions as to who hits where, but Gordon, Butler, Hosmer, Francoeur and Moustakas will provide the stability that the offense showed this past season leading into 2012.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter @kcpopflyboy
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