Thursday, January 2, 2014

Royal Reactions - Off-Season Upgrades

Dayton Moore has been a busy man since the long-suffering Red Sox fans finally got that elusive World Series title after six long years without one.

As previously-discussed, the Royals fell short of the playoffs and couldn't just stand pat if they wanted to step it up in 2014.

Welcome to Kansas City, Norichika Aoki, Omar Infante and Jason Vargas. (and, so long, David Lough... but we'll discuss that another time)

Using an average of the available projections from Fangraphs, here is how the starting nine looks for the Royals going into this season, based on Wins Above Replacement:

1 Norichika Aoki 3.40
2 Omar Infante 2.50
3 Eric Hosmer 2.25
4 Billy Butler 1.95
5 Alex Gordon 3.60
6 Salvador Perez 4.15
7 Mike Moustakas 2.40
8 Lorenzo Cain 3.00
9 Alcides Escobar 1.20

That pencils out to 24.45 WAR from the regulars, which is a roughly four-win improvement over the lineup in 2013. (please don't ask me to show my work)

The starting rotation pencils out to another 10.10 WAR:

1 James Shields 3.70
2 Jason Vargas 1.90
3 Jeremy Guthrie 1.40
4 Danny Duffy 1.20
5 Wade Davis 1.90

Here is where the team gives back some of the gains from the offensive side of the ball. This would be about 1.5 fewer wins than last year's starters, with most of the loss coming from Ervin Santana's departure.

I won't go through the relief corps, but one can hope they will be good and yet realistically expect some regression off last year's awesome showing. Let's call it half a win and credit Dayton Moore for improving the team by two wins at this point in the offseason. This leaves us with many questions as Spring Training appears on the horizon.

Does 88-74 get you into the playoffs in 2014? I doubt it.

Does throwing $100 Million at Santana or Tanaka get you over 90 wins and in the hunt? Maybe.

Do a handful of games in Venezuela mean Moose is ready for a breakout year? Is Yordano Ventura ready to go all Pedro Martinez on the league? Will Butler and Gordon stave off the age curve? Will Escobar not suck so much? Does Bonifacio play everywhere and kick in a few wins with his legs and his defense? Anything is possible.

Will Jarrod Dyson steal home to win a one-game playoff with Tampa Bay after a Wil Myers error puts him on third base in the ninth? One can dream, can't they?

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