"We're going to be better next year than we are this year. "My experience in baseball is the mark of a good young player is that he gets better each year.
I read this quote at the Kansas Star website yesterday, in which esteemed owner Daniel Glass predicted future success for his club. The quote is funny in its own, as experience in baseball and Glass don't belong in the same sentence. This was a man destroying the club who stumbled across a great manager and good farm system.
Whie Allan Baird gets a lot of flack around the baseball world, there's no question his system produced prospects. While the loot wasn't great for Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye, they did get Angel Berroa, possibly the Rookie of the Year. Stars like Ibanez, Beltran, Sweeney, and MacDougal are products of good trades or good teaching. There is more on the way, as Jimmy Gobble has shown in his first two starts.
Today's article is geared at deciding if Glass may be correct, could be better next year. In doing so, we must look at what has worked this season. A look at some stars from every month this season:
Runelvys Hernandez- 3-0 1.60 22/33 16/15
Jason Grimsley- 15G, 13/15.2 14/4
Albie Lopez- 3-0 16/14.1 14/7
Raul Ibanez- .345/.408/.575 4HR/12RBI
Joe Randa- .329/.388/.632 5HR/14RBI
Mike Sweeney- .265/.411/.515 5HR/19RBI
Mike MacDougal- 11G 12/11 10/3
Carlos Beltran- .301/.404/.538 7HR/17RBI
Mike Sweeney- .337/.443/.517 4HR/11RBI
Mike MacDougal- 2-0 2.77 11/13 11/8 8Sv
Jose Lima- 2-0 15/18.1 5/7
Mike Tucker- .300/.385/.500 3HR/14RBI
Ken Harvey- .333/.389/.561 3HR/13RBI
Angel Berroa- .327/.383/.592 5HR/11RBI
Jose Lima- 5-0 1.44 20/31.1 18/10
Curt Leskanic- 3/8.1 12/3 0ER
Darrell May- 4-1 2.76 33/42.1 20/13
Carlos Beltran- .323/.395/.535 4HR/21RBI
Angel Berroa- .323/.337/.570 6HR/22RBI
Raul Ibanez- .341/.370/.516 4HR/17RBI
So far this month we're looking at...
Jimmy Gobble- 2-0 0.73 13/12.1 6/1
Kevin Appier- 1-1 8/11 4/2 2ER
Mix of Dan Carrasco, Curt Leskanic, Kris Wilson, Al Levine, Jason Grimsley...
40IP 34H 9ER 15BB 28K
Aaron Guiel- .310/.400/.500 1HR/7RBI
Joe Randa- .300/.429/.450 1HR/5RBI
Carlos Beltran- .278/.381/.528 3HR/9RBI
That, all in all, is what has kept Kansas City stay afloat. There are many different pitchers in the different months, portraying what KC has gone through this season. The first month Hernandez and Lopez were very good, but then Runelvys got hurt, and Albie sucked. Jose Lima and Kevin Appier were good finds on the free agent market, and the team added some good bullpen depth. But Grimsley, Levine, Lloyd, and Leskanic are all free agents at the end of the season, along with Lima and Appier from the rotation. The offense has Raul Ibanez, Mike Tucker, Mike Diefelice, Brent Mayne, and Joe Randa as free agents. Is the team likely to get so many finds next season? No.
Kansas City management insists they will re-sign Ibanez, despite the price. This may make them trade Carlos Beltran, which would get a solid return. They have David DeJesus, an OBP machine, waiting in the centerfield wings at AAA. A trade for Beltran could yield, from Los Angeles: Joel Hanrahan, Koyie Hill, and Wilken Ruan. Hanrahan would step in the rotation right away, as Hill would replace Mayne behind the plate. Ruan could platoon with the left-handed DeJesus in center.
But, it will be re-building third base, the rotation, and the bullpen that will decide Baird's future. Desi Relaford was a good signing, and is the 2004 KC second basemen, can Baird find a player like that to replace Randa? Can the veteran foursome be replaced in the bullpen? Probably not. Here's a hypothetical 2004 lineup, with Tony Batista in as the third basemen:
1. David DeJesus- CF
2. Desi Reladord- 2B
3. Mike Sweeney- 1B
4. Raul Ibanez- LF
5. Angel Berroa- SS
6. Tony Batista- 3B
7. Ken Harvey- DH
8. Aaron Guiel- RF
9. Koyie Hill- C
And the rotation, with Jeremy Affeldt moving back into it:
Then, you could lock MacDougal and Kris Wilson into the bullpen. Ultimately, expect Affeldt to stay as a power set-up man in the 'pen, with May being left in the rotation.
Glass' Royals have caught a lot of breaks in 2003, having rookies and Independant Leaguers all perform over their heads. The club will need much more consistency to do better next season, and for the Twins to not improve.
Glass: if you couldn't properly own a team for ten years, don't start talking trash now.