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It's been a rough season for the Kansas City Royals, but not as rough as for some. The Royals aren't going to finish with a winning record, but they are going to finish in third place. They haven't scored a ton of runs, but they do have a number of good young hitters. They do have an outstanding bullpen, for the second straight season.
But their starters haven't been good, which is a perennial problem for the franchise. This season, the Royals' starters have combined for a 4.98 ERA, fourth-worst in the American League. Via the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton, though, we've got word that Royals owner David Glass is willing to open his wallet this winter:
"What I’ve always said is when we get to the point where we’re competitive," Glass said, "we’ll do what we have to do to improve our position. Yes, we’ll do what we need to do. We are committed to improving our starting pitching.
"Exactly how we’re going to do it, or what is going to be available, I don’t have any idea right now. But we’ll have a plan in place (going into the offseason). We know we need to improve this team for next year. This starting pitching is going to get better."
"We’ll do what we need to do," Glass pledged. "I’m going to sit down with Dayton and get his views on exactly what he thinks we need to do. I’m really dependent on his judgment. He knows our needs.
"I have no idea yet of who will be on the market or what it will cost at this point in time. We’re going to have to figure all of that out, but we’re going to do what we need to do to be competitive."
Don't worry. They'll figure it out.
We kid the Royals because we love them!
They're in sort of a tough spot, though.
If you project their rotation for next season, you have to start with Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar, who both are under club control. The only problem is that their ERAs this season are 5.22 and (at this exactly moment) 5.44. You want guys like that at the back end of your rotation, at most. Right now, they're at the front end.
Other at-hand options include Luis Mendoza (4.44) and rookie Will Smith (4.88). Prospect Jake Odorizzi debuted with the Royals last weekend, and deserves a shot next spring. But rookie starting pitchers ... well, you know. You have to pitch them, but sure as hell can't count on them. And it seems the Royals will have some interest in retaining Jeremy Guthrie, who has thrived since coming over from the Rockies.
But the basic problem is that even if the Royals sign Guthrie or some other free agent this winter, and somehow acquire another good veteran starter, they'll still have two or (more likely) three big question marks in their rotation. The Royals still haven't developed a good starting pitcher from their system in many years, and nothing's going to matter next season unless they somehow develop two in the same season.
Hey, it's worth a shot. Let's just not start printing up playoff tickets yet.