Keeping the Face of the Franchise
Something you’ll notice about the great teams around baseball is they have that one player who stands head and shoulders above everybody else. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best player on the team, but they are the best known player on the team. On the Yankees, Robinson Cano is probably the best player on the team, but Derek Jeter is known by everybody. On the Braves, Brian McCann is probably their best player, but Chipper Jones is the name people think of when they think of the Atlanta Braves. Sometimes the guy everybody knows is the best player like Albert Pujols was on the Cardinals for so many years or like Evan Longoria is for the Rays right now. The point is that the best teams all have faces of the franchise.
My original intention was to write an article about who is the face of the Royals, but I wanted to incorporate that post with some news that came out regarding David Glass and his desire to lock up the Royals young talent. My argument was going to be that Eric Hosmer had already supplanted Billy Butler as the face of the Royals. I’m not sure if that’s entirely true, but I was going to find a way to make that argument a valid one. I may do that another time. For now, though, I’m going to operate under the assumption that Eric Hosmer will one day very soon be the face of the Kansas City Royals franchise. See, the Royals haven’t had a true face since George Brett retired. Bad teams don’t need faces. Butler probably is the local face, but I’m talking a grander scale than Kansas City alone. So for now, let’s assume that Eric Hosmer continues to develop and that he becomes the superstar everybody believes he is. Add in his charisma and you’ve got a guy who will take the baseball world by storm.
Now let’s turned back to the aforementioned comments by David Glass who talked about his strong desire to get these young player signed to stay in a Royals uniform for quite some time. You all know about my desire to get Alex Gordon a contract extension, and I’m confident that will be announced within the next month or so. I’ve also talked a fair amount about offering Hosmer something ridiculous like 10 years and $125 million or something along those lines. The comments from David Glass lead me to believe that he’s, at the very least, interested in exploring something for the young players who project as stars with the Royals. No names were mentioned directly by Glass in the article that can be found here, but the speculation is that he’s talking about guys like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar and the young pitchers. The quote that really got me from Glass is this one:
“The Indians, the Rays and other people have had some success in keeping the young ones,” Glass told¬†The Associated Press¬†on Monday. “I think we’ve got a special group, and keeping them together and the best of the crop is really important to us.”
That to me says that he recognizes why teams like the Rays are winning and he looks at the model the Indians brought out in the early 90s with their young stars and sees that as a formula for sustained success. And before anybody mentions this, I feel compelled to mention that talk is very cheap and it’ll take some money being spent for me to believe that this will actually happen, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard David Glass come out and make comments like this. He typically makes comments along the ilk of how he expects the team to improve and he wants to see a .500 record and all that typical babble that you need to hear from an owner but never really says anything. He has never come out and talked like this before, so that’s encouraging.
And the other aspect is that the Royals have been very aggressive in drafting the best players rather than drafting for signability. The Royals have been lauded for that approach, but often the best players in the draft come with the caveat of being represented by Scott Boras who is famous for not allowing players to forego free agency. There are some exceptions to that, but for the most part Boras advocates the idea that your biggest payday is your first crack at free agency. Still, it would be extremely difficult for him to turn down a $100 million payday for someone like Eric Hosmer, who has less than 130 games of big league experience. That number is simply a conjecture, but the fact Glass is even talking about this is encouraging to me. The one thing to remember is that this is not an entirely new development for the Royals. Players like Joakim Soria, Billy Butler and Zack Greinke have been extended prior to free agency in the last few seasons and that seems to go largely unnoticed because it goes against the rhetoric that the Royals are cheap and don’t keep their young players.
With a relatively miniscule payroll in 2011 that is not expected to be considerably higher in 2012, the Royals may have some money saved up to pay their young, future stars. Of course, this isn’t without risk as it’s much safer to give someone like Alex Gordon a contract extension as you know how he’s aged and how he’s dealt with failure than it is someone like a Mike Moustakas who has really had one good month in the big leagues. Still, the higher the risk, the higher the reward and the Royals seem to recognize this. If anything will happen, Glass believes it won’t be right now.
“Probably during this season,” Glass said. “These guys, the majority of them came up during the season last year. … Some of them will improve significantly. Others will level off. That’s just kind of the history of the game.”
So Glass recognizes that it’s worth waiting to see how a lot of these react to their first full season in the big leagues in 2012. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be seeing any deals like Matt Moore just signed with the Rays even if Mike Montgomery comes up and dazzles in his first four or five starts.
The other encouraging news from the article is that Glass recognizes that winning is no guarantee and if there is an opportunity to improve the team, then he’s going to give Dayton Moore the go-ahead to acquire more talent at the trade deadline.
Look, I don’t know if any of this is true. He might have talked to one of his many wonderful personal public relations specialists and they told him that his public persona is at an all-time low and he threw out some quotes he knew bloggers like me would eat up. All I know is that if that was conveyed to him, he’d have come out years ago as his public image with Royals fans has been terrible for the better part of a decade. ¬†I also know that if the Royals somehow reach an accord with Eric Hosmer or even a Salvador Perez, Royals fans would be dancing in the streets as they will be seen as finally making efforts to keep their young stars. What they’ve done the last few years is great, but keeping this next wave of players, the young men who are expected to put the organization over the top, will be what will allow David Glass to repair his legacy or to continue to be seen as cheap in the eyes of Royals fans around the world. These quotes put him and Dayton Moore on the clock. Let’s see how they respond.
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