You Can Stop Making Your Royals Jokes, They're a Serious Club Now!

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sillyroyals.jpg

At least that's what Sam Mellinger thinks. In a column today where he pretty much blames the strike of '94 for ruining the once-successful Royals franchise (and incorrectly makes the argument that a salary cap would have helped out the team), Mellinger says this:

Persistent losing appears to have changed that. (David Glass) is now operating like successful team owners, by committing more money, by hiring the best people he can and letting them run the baseball team.

But the Royals are no longer viewed as an industrywide joke; the punchlines mostly stopping when Moore was hired and baseball insiders started noticing a renewed commitment to scouting and player development.

You hear that, chuckleheads? The Royals aren't going to suffer your endless punchlines and knock-knock jokes anymore. They're a serious organization now and will no longer make stupid free-agent signings or ridiculously bad trades. SO STOP MAKING FUN. You too, Yuniesky Betancat.

Mellinger continues:

The Royals spent more on last year's draft picks than any team in baseball history. This year's big-league payroll, $70.6 million on opening day, was a club record.

Their focus on rebuilding the organization from the inside is a reflection of that, too. A record $11 million on last year's draft picks is the clearest recognition that the Royals must get back to the days when their farm system produced (George) Brett, Frank White, Bret Saberhagen, Cone, Willie Wilson, Dan Quisenberry and more.

Yes, that is exactly the best way to resurrect a team that has suffered through one of the losingest decades in history, by throwing more money at the problem. This comes on the heels of years of Royals fans complaining about said salary cap and how their small-market team cannot compete with the big boys in New York and Boston.

Well, the 2008 Rays invalidated that argument. You can succeed with a low payroll team if you run it wisely from the ground floor up, which is exactly what the Royals didn't do. Not only did the team cut the major league payroll after the strike, they cut the funding for signing draft picks and forced their minor league teams to sew their own uniforms.

But now, hey, David Glass isn't going to slash prices anymore, he's going to spend his way to a better franchise! So, put away your Royals joke book. That one about a Jew, a nun, and Hal McRae walking into a bar just doesn't make me laugh anymore.


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2 Comments

Let's be honest, the Royals never really recovered from losing Dick Howser.

/joke?

You can boil down the necessities for greater Major League baseball success into three categories: brains, money, and luck.

Of these, the highest profile member of management controls just one. The team owner and mitigating factors control another, and obviously nobody controls the third.

So what the Rays showed us, and probably already know themselves, is that they have absolutely no margin for error in the brains department. The money's never going to be there. So at the very best, as luck should work out to about 50% over a long term period, the Rays at their very best can succeed at about that rate, as the other two factors cancel each other out.

Which is what really scares me about poorly run teams. Without the brains contingent, you have no way of figuring out how to differentiate and categorize any success at all, and because of the egos involved, all of it will be credited to their decision making acumen. "The Process." Sound familiar?

The Royals are such a team. They've dumped a large sum of money into their major league club and development at all levels. It would take gross ineptitude of the highest possible order to not get better in some measurable way. Yet I think (as you do) that the return is so minimal, and the fundamentally poor evaluation of talent so wanting, that it will make little difference. They will spend twice the money to win twenty more games at some point. And if fortune should shine upon them and they get close to .500? They'll just go ahead and hold the parade, load the system with bloaty contracts and worse decisions, and watch the whole organization nose dive while they complain about injuries.

At this point, it's almost impossible for the brains to counteract the money. The best management just can't continually compete with the constant barrage of the foolproof fallback: mountains of cash. Inflation aside, a dollar is and will always be a dollar, as long as the Major Leaguers cash their checks in American (or Canadian) currency.

Which is why I'm cheering for the Boston Red Sox every year for the forseeable future, despite their loathesomely enviable position. They have the brains and the money and teams like the Rays won't be able to consistently compete against them.

The big money disparity has been there for a long, long time, but incompetent management (thank you for the last thirty years, Mets) has helped give the illusion of parity in the league. If the Red Sox can harness their financial and mental resources and get just enough luck on their side, we'll see that fallacy crumble with the re-establishment of a true dynasty. And hopefully renew some fan discontentment and apathy. And that's the path to truly being out of this mess and towards a much better and more exciting game.

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