Tag Archives: 2015 MLB Season

Name On The Front

You may or may not have heard, but the Kansas City Royals won the 2015 World Series! They out-hustled, out-worked, out-scouted, out-played the Mets to win four games to one. I was happy. I sat in complete bliss watching the postgame celebration late Sunday night and into early Monday morning.

It was fun.

But, as my head hit the pillow a little after 1:00 AM on Monday, November 2, 2015, my thoughts shifted to the one question. That one question that always haunts a coach, “How do we get better?”

In the Kansas City Royals case, “How do they keep winning into 2016 and beyond?”

If you’re looking for a happy, blue-Kool Aid-infused blog post about how awesome everything is and how we should keep the train on the track as is, I apologize in advance. You are going to be pissed off at old Coach Hays. This is going to be a rant about how we can leverage this current success into a long-term success by focusing on the stale, overused team sports saying about playing for the “name on the front of the jersey”.

The secret to the Royals future success and with the associated continuance of your fandom needs to be grounded in this. We need to be Royals fans. Not just Gordon fans, not just Hosmer fans, not just Cain fans, and not just Perez fans. We need to cheer like crazy for the guys on the roster, the guys who go out and play the games every day. AND we need to avoid falling in love with the individual over the team.

Small market or mega-market, professional sports teams have to be smart about how, when and where they spend money. The mega-markets can afford mistakes on long-term, high dollar contracts. The small markets cannot. They have to be willing to part ways with current players and/or parlay a current start into two or three future stars.

That is what I believe Dayton Moore’s as a general manager lies. Don’t get bogged down in heavy, long-term contracts at the expense of your future. Be consistently great by being an organization consistently evolving.

  • Acquire talent.
  • Develop talent.
  • Coach up the talent.
  • Put the talent in a position to win.
  • Deal talent.
  • Repeat.

But, this is tough. It’s tough as a GM to pull the trigger. Okay, you short memory people, remember how ticked off you were last year when they let Billy Butler walk to the A’s. Remember?

The Royals have built an exceptional system under Dayton Moore. It is something I never could or would have believed the Glass family would have committed the resources to a decade ago. They have great scouting on both the talent and game front. They have great assistant coaches and minor league coaches (I forego inclusion of head coach Ned Yost in this list as his greatest asset to the organization is allowing people around him to do their jobs.). They have tapped into Latin America like few other teams did to mine talent.

In short, I trust this management to compete.

Compete.

Is that all we can ask as fans?

Compete, compete, compete, and then, on occasion, tremendous things will happen as fortune smiles on your endeavors and the baseball gods sprinkle your team with greatness—like the 2015 World Championship.

Don’t be mad at either the player or the management for the Gordo’s, the Salvi’s, the Zobrists, the Hosmers and the Cuetos walking out the door. Remember, they are leaving a whole bunch of awesome memories and results in their wake.

The name on the front, people.

The “now’s” instead of the “has been’s”. The “producers” instead of the “washed-ups”.

Go, Royals!

Thank you to everyone in the organization for 2014 and 2015. It’s been an awesome ride as a fan.

Now, let’s go get 2016!

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Royal Concerns

The 2014 Kansas City Royals season. I still smile when I think about the final one-third of the season. I probably always will.The first playoff appearance in 29 years, followed by a playoff roll which led to a tight  game seven loss at the hands of the greatest World Series pitching performance in MLB history by Madison Bumgarner.

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But, we are now in 2015. The MLB teams have all reported to their respective spring training sites and we are now within spitting distance of Opening Day. An exciting time, to say the least. I should be basking in the World Series afterglow and chugging glass after optimistic glass of the blue Kool-Aid.

I am not. I am not overly optimistic.

Sure, I can see the potential. The potential which drove a focused and performing group of ball players to finally live up to expectations. I can see the potential, but I am also a coach.  I can plainly see they caught lightning in a bottle for a few weeks. And in case you haven’t heard, lightning is pretty damn hard to catch, let alone catch it in a bottle. I’ve spent the last few months following news and analyzing and planning and studying this team. The final verdict is in…

I have Royal concerns.

First, as an unnamed Royals front office person said during the winter meetings that they were fully aware that for most of the 2014 season, the Royals were mediocre at best, and fairly awful at times, so they felt they needed to upgrade the roster. I don’t know if they did enough upgrades in the roster. Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios will have to immediately step in and live up to expectation to stabilize the roster. The returning players will have to follow Alex Gordon’s example and learn to be a professional from day one of camp until the final out of the year.

The second concern is both a good and bad thing. I think all but Hosmer’s contract settlement were only for one year and they’ve jumped the 100 million in payroll for next season. I like this because it shows they have a desire to be good, but it also makes this a do or die year. They make a run in 2015 and then they’ll blow this whole thing up.

My biggest concern, though, is health. Alex Gordon is coming off wrist surgery. Hopefully, it all holds up. They need him. He and Salvador Perez are the heart and soul of this organization. The bus only heads in the right direction when Alex and Salvie are driver and navigator.

Speaking of Perez, he is the one I am most worried about. Catching is a grind. It wears down the body like few other positions in baseball do. He started 143 games in 2014. Ned ran his top draft horse into the ground. It will have a long-term effect on his performance and his career. It is like the NFL running back who gets too many carries in a season and is never the same physically again, like Larry Johnson did with the Chiefs in 2006.  If Salvadore Perez breaks down in 2015, the Royals are in serious trouble.

I also have concerns about the health of the lights-out bullpen trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland. They didn’t get much rest in the last 2/3 of the season. They logged a lot of innings and a lot of day after day appearances. Again, any breakdown with either of these three would hurt the Royals chances in 2015

Despite these Royal Concerns, I am excited about the 2015 season. Who am I kidding? I am excited about any baseball season. I will keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. Either way, I will listen and watch with the usual enthusiasm while making snarky comments on the Royals and Ned Yost’s managing on social media.

Play Ball!

 

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