How bad is it? Yesterday the Royals were the first team in the major leagues to be officially eliminated from the playoffs. Before September. About a week before any other team.
If the Royals don't play .500 ball the rest of the year, they will still finish with 100 losses. For the fourth time in the last five years. That’s more 100-loss seasons in the 21st century than the Cubs had in the 20th century. And the nineteenth century. Combined.
They spent $21 million dollars on new players during the offseason. Wanna hear the names of the superstars? Scott Elarton, Doug Mientkiewicz, Mark Grudzielanek, Paul Bako, Reggie Sanders, Joe Mays and Mark Redman.
Even more wretching is that a good chunk of those salaries will eat up payroll dollars next year, too. This year the Royals spent about $48 million in payroll, and for next year, $35 million of that is already spoken for by six players:
- Mike Sweeney ($11 M) - 33-year-old with a bad back who has hit four home runs this year
- Odalis Perez ($7.75M) – LH Pitcher who has a 6.11 ERA in the 88 innings he’s pitched in 2006.
- Sanders ($5M) – 38-year-old outfielder who barely has 600 at-bats in the last two years.
- Elarton ($4M) – 5.34 ERA this year. On pace for about 150 innings, total.
- Grudzielanek ($4M) – 36-year-old second baseman, who is also under contract for 2008.
- Angel Berroa ($3.25M) – Shortstop who is hitting .237. Also under contract through 2008.
The problem isn’t that these guys can’t help a team….OK, actually that is the problem. But it’s also that they’re guaranteed about 75% of the Royals likely payroll next year, and there are still nineteen spot to fill out on the roster.
While the jury is out on new GM Dayton Moore, the Royals have taken at least one step in a positive direction, because any step away from former GM Allard Baird has to be considered positive. ButBaird's legacy is still in force. Baird didn’t just sacrifice the previous six years with his incompetence, he likely sacrificed 2007 as well, and maybe further, depending on your view of the Royals minor leagues.
The Royals aren’t just bad, they’re historically bad, and it wouldn’t be shocking if they got worse before they got better.
On the Hill
Royals: Jorge De La Rosa(3-3, 8.13 ERA)
- 2005: 2-2, 42.1 IP, 42 K, 4.47 ERA
- 2006: 52 IP, 56 H, 48 K, 36 BB, 10 HR
- De La Rosa was a left-handed reliever on the Brewers who was sent to the minors to rehab a cracked nail and blister. (How great is that?) He looked awfully good there, and so the Royals traded for him at the deadline when the Brewers asked for Tony Graffanino. So far, he hasn’t carried that success with him to the majors, as evidence by his 7.48 ERA as a starter with the Royals.
Thursday: Johan Santana (15-5, 3.01 ERA)
- 2005: 16-7, 231.2 IP, 238 K, 2.87 ERA. Led league in strikeouts, second best ERA, third place in Cy Young voting.
- 2006: 191.1 IP, 157 H, 196 K, 39 BB, 21 HR
- So, what does the Cy Young scoreboard look like? He’s first in ERA, first in Ks, and second in wins (that blown save by Nathan on Saturday kept him from moving into first). He’s also first in batting average against, and on-base percentage against, and second in innings pitched. Roy Halladay is having a great year, and there’s still time for a late stretch move, but as they round the bend, Santana is in the lead by at least a length.