Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The $200,000,000 (+?) Kansas City Royals

This is the story of how $200,000,000 hasn't been enough for KC.

Late in S4, I was laying out my S5 plan. At the start of S1, I signed the two prime FAs to five-year deals, Artie Rizzo and Tony Hudler. Both had $20,000,000 deals for S5. I had some other significant chunks of money committed as well. I determined I'd need $91 mil to pay the guys I already had.

However, my rotation needed help. I was good with Hudler, McCartney, and Faulk starting, but nobody else. Vosberg won 21 games in S4 but with an ERA over 5, I knew it was just good fortune and a good offense behind him. I didn't want to go with him getting 30-35 starts this year. And with the fatigue change taking innings away from the other guys, I realized I need at least 1.5 more starters (a solid starter and a spot guy) or even 2 (2 solid starters in a 5MR). So I determined I could bump my salary to $101 or $103 mil in budgeting to make room for two guys at $5 mil to $6 mil each.

WiredTiger announced late in S4 that he was moving all vets and rebuilding in S5. I targeted two of his pitchers--Jake Payton and Eugene Parkinson. Payton, with a career ERA just over 3 and a WHIP under 1.20 would be a nice addition to the rotation. He is signed through S7, but I felt like S5 was a better chance for the Royals to win it all than S6 or S7 will be, so it was an acceptable hit to take. Parkinson is a good fit as a two-times-out-of-three through the rotation guy, but making $11.5 mil. His ratings didn't justify that money currently, but he is also in year five of a five-year deal. He wouldn't hurt me financially after this year since he was expiring. With a sub-4 ERA and a 17/65 dur/sta, I felt I could get 160 good innings out of him and pitch the other four guys 35 times each.

For me to make room for them, I needed to budget more than $91 mil, or get money in the deal. Since WT was rebuilding, he had some dollars he wasn't going to need:

(WT trade chat to me on 7/16) "I guess you can assume that in any trade I am looking for the best prospects and not necessarily cap space. Even with these guys on my roster I'm only going to be at about $75 million."

He'd rather have better prospects than money. Seems like a fair use of the $185 mil WIS gives us. WT and I kept the discussion going and I felt good that we were going to get a deal made that brought me an additional $17.5 mil in salary. I couldn't budget $108 mil, but he was willing to include money:

(My trade chat to WT on 7/20) "I talked myself into this. Check out the new projections if/when we ever get started. I'll budget $98 million, which will be perfect if we make the deal but won't kill me ($7 million too high) if you want to bail after seeing the projections."

So we worked it out. I needed $108 mil including those guys' salaries, so I budgeted $98 mil. The deals were certainly fair. In fact, I may have given up too much but I was able to keep Santayana (the heir apparent to Rizzo at 1B). Much of the rest of my ML lineup is young, so ML-ready prospects aren't that important to me right now.

I then did something stupid. Italked myself into a 3MT for the first 10 games. I thought Vosberg could help me and I could get Hudler, McCartney, and Payton on the hill more often. I wasn't happy with the results however and ditched it. I still didn't have the team playing as well as I thought they could, so I gave Bill Strickland more starts at catcher. Plus, Hudler went down for ~80 days, and the guys picking up the extra starts made a need for a better pitch-calling catcher. I have Strickland, a good pitch caller who can't hit; Mintz, who should hit better but doesn't; and Pulido, who is a bad pitch caller and a great hitter but no durability limits him to 200-250 ABs a year, better spent at DH.

With Strickland in place, I still wasn't happy. Then I found out Gerald Daly was available from Pittsburgh. Daly has a big bat and a decent PC rating of 57. We worked out a deal with me taking Daly and another expiring contract, a difference of about $8 mil. I couldn't afford that, so WT added another $5 mil. Another fair trade, IMHO.

Now the injury bug has set in further. All three of WT's poison players have suffered serious injuries. First, Daly went down for the year on 9/8. So I've gone back to Strickland with Mintz still in the doghouse. Next, on 9/12, Payton went down for ~70 days. Newly promoted Howard File was now slotted to get some spot starts. Finally, on 9/18, Parkinson got hurt and is out for 59 days. My rotation is now three-deep, so I put Vosberg in temporarily and will still have to spot start File. I need some money to sign or trade for somebody that can hold it down for the next 60 days in the middle of a tight pennant race, thus the call for $2 million more.

Now, after all that, hopefully all can see that nothing shady is going on. I understand that there are two types of trades that some have a problem with, philosophically: 1) money for players trades; and 2) players with salaries paid for prospects trades. The first three with the $5 mil included were type 2, and a new trade would be type 1.

I personally don't understand the concern in this world. In a world where owners come and go, it would be bad for the world to allow a team to make a lot of trades for money and build a super team, destroying the team for years to come. However, that clearly isn't the case here. I understand the sacrifices I'm making (and have determined that I can afford them based on the fact that much of my team is young and we should be back in contention in S8) to make one last run this year with Rizzo, Hudler, Brooks, Phillips, and Silva. I'm committed to this world long-term (I've already renewed for S6, more than can be said for those objecting) and it should be clear that there is no collusion. What is the harm that is done?

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