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“Another great move from the Royals. They were able to procure an outfielder with some upside, athletic and for the most part on a solid contract. Good work by Dayton”

“The Royals went the unexpected DH route but brought in a slugger with some power coming off a solid season”

These are quotes I wanted to say during this winter, hoping that maybe the great postseason run the Royals accomplished this year might have changed Moore’s mind on some things. More than anything I wanted to like what GMDM has done this winter and feel confident(or at least moderately confident) headed into the 2015 season. Instead he has made two offensive signings that made me shake my head so violently that even more is loose upstairs then before and a rotation acquisition that I don’t hate.

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It all started last week with the signing of Kendrys Morales. I didn’t like the move on many fronts, but also took the stance of hoping that his awful  2014 season was more a byproduct of missing Spring Training and the first two months of the season than him beginning to regress(which is my belief). Then Moore went out and acquired long coveted outfielder Alex Rios to a one year, $11mm contract. I’ve never been a big fan of Rios, mainly for the fact that he is the ultimate streaky player, a player who has the talent but basically decides from year to year just how much of said talent he will actually use. Rios lacks consistency and his 2014 season was probably the sign of a player who’s best days are in the rearview mirror. Rios did hit lefties pretty solid in 2014, but there was very little power (4 home runs total, only 1 in the bandbox known as Globe Life Park in Arlington)to speak of. Add in that Rios will turn 34 in February and was a below average defender last season(although he might be a tad better defensively than Nori Aoki). All this made me not even want to write about Rios and left me with more questions about the Royals going into next year than answers. Yes, these guys will be complimentary players to the Hosmer’s and Gordon’s, but I felt the whole point to this offseason was to improve the offense and I wasn’t for sure that had been accomplished. Then it hit me.

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The reason I don’t like most of Dayton’s moves on the offensive front, and why I seem to always be at conflict with his game plan is simple; I value different strengths in batters than Moore. I have known this for a long time, but these signings really glared the light at the differences between what I value compared to him. I prefer hitters that tend to walk more, are more patient and don’t strikeout much. Moore prefers free-swingers who make lots of contact. Rios and Morales fit this mold, although not quite to the extreme as some of the current Royals batters. Since this is the case, more times than not I am not going to like the players he is on the hunt for. It’s a bitter conflict, as I can’t quit being a Royals fan(hey, 30 years later isn’t the time to jump ship) but I also am just not on the same page with the thinking of this Kansas City front office. Yes, I am just a fan and they have major league baseball jobs(no jokes please), but I would like to think I am not a complete dummy when it comes to evaluating talent and noticing player patterns that don’t just change overnight.

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I am smart enough to know that Kansas City isn’t going to be able to go out and match dollars with the likes of a Boston or Los Angeles, but I also think the Royals could be smarter about how they evaluate talent. There is nothing wrong with creativity by a front office; it has helped Billy Beane in Oakland for years now. The Rios and Morales signings felt like the opposite of creative; it felt like two signings that were taken by an old, tattered 1983 book that felt outdated 20 years ago. The Royals are hoping(counting) on these two to have bounce back seasons, when both are at an age where regression has begun to creep in. I wouldn’t expect either guy to put up career best numbers, but at this point in their careers I’m not even for sure they can accumulate average numbers. I would have preferred the Royals gone after an outfielder like Corey Hart or Colby Rasmus than the likes of Rios and Morales. Hell, I was more on the bandwagon of Kansas City going out and making a trade. The Royals are a team that has to spend wisely on the free agent market and it just seems that spending $17.5mm on two bounce back candidates wasn’t the best direction for a team hoping to make it back to the playoffs in 2015.

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That leads to Wednesday’s announcement that Kansas City had signed Edinson Volquez to a 2 year, $20mm contract. Volquez is essentially James Shields replacement in the rotation and is coming off a solid 2014 campaign for the Pittsburgh Pirates. There are some concerns when it comes to Volquez, most notably his penchant to giving up the walk and a declining strikeout rate. The strikeout rate doesn’t worry me as much, as he has worked on pitching more to contact and relying on the defense, which will be a plus in Kansas City. Sure, Volquez isn’t at the level of a James Shields(although I personally feel that decline is right on Big Game James’ doorsteps) but if a Danny Duffy or Yordano Ventura bump up in the rotation then all Volquez has to do is throw 6 innings and give up an average of 2-3 runs on a consistent basis. I personally like this move and feel with the way the market was this was one of Dayton’s better bets. This goes to show that as much as my thinking clashes with Moore when it comes to hitting, I tend to value a lot of the same strengths in pitchers, especially those that are middle rotation starters.

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So out of the three big offseason acquisitions the Royals have made this winter(this week?) I am on board with at least one of them. In a perfect world every move is a positive and elevates this team even more in 2015. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and just as I don’t trust anyone who hates every move a general manager makes, I also don’t trust the person who loves every move that is made. Free agency is a gamble and Dayton has rolled the dice with the Royals for this upcoming season. Hopefully he was more right than wrong and we can experience another magical October. My skepticism does remind me though that I felt this same way in September and we know what happened after that. So was it luck or a careful, drawn out plan? Only time will tell us.

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Royals fans have been clamoring for General Manager Dayton Moore to do something(anything!) this offseason and it looks like he has done just that, signing Kendrys Morales to a 2 year, $17mm deal with incentives. The deal is for less than what former Royal Billy Butler got in Oakland but it also raises some questions about the Royals going forward.

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The obvious question is whether Morales’ 2014 season was an aberration or the beginning of a decline. Morales was late to sign with a team last season, waiting until June 8th to sign with Minnesota, as teams were afraid to give up a first round compensatory pick to sign him. Morales struggled with the Twins, putting up a slash line of .234/.259/.325 in 39 games. Morales was traded back to his former team, Seattle, in July and didn’t do much better, hitting .207/.285/.347 in 59 games. It’s hard to tell if Morales struggled because of his skipping Spring Training and not playing until June or it was the beginning of a decline. Just one year earlier in Seattle he put up a .277/.336/.449 line, hitting 23 bombs and an OPS + of 123. If 2014 was a blip on the radar than this looks like a solid deal for Kansas City. But there are concerns this is more of a decline, as Morales is turning 32 this year and his ISO(Isolated Power, which measures a batters raw power; the final result measures how many extra bases a player averages per at bat) has declined every year since his 2010 broken ankle that cost him almost two years of baseball. There is a good chance that last year’s numbers for Morales was purely him sitting out for the first two months of the season and not participating in Spring Training to work out any rust or kinks. Or it was the beginning of a downward turn in production.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers

Just bringing Morales in posts a numbers of interesting questions, including this one: if the Royals wanted to go to a floating DH, why would you let your current DH leave(Butler) just to sign another DH? We’ve heard for the last two years that the team wanted to venture into an area that alot of American League teams are already implementing, which is not having a set DH and rotating players around that spot. The reasoning for Kansas City was to make the team more athletic while giving some of their players(Perez, Gordon, etc.) some time off in the field. Like I said, this has been talked about for over two years now and was highly discussed this winter during negotations with Butler. Why the team would turn 180 degrees and change their stance is puzzling to say the least. There are some that think this was done in a way to get Butler out of town, but I’m not so much of a conspiracy theorist to believe that is actually the truth. I do believe the market plays a big part in this decision, as the team has been on the prowl for an outfield bat this offseason. It become apparent quickly that the Royals were going to either offer an outfielder more money than they were initially willing to or scrounge the trade market to find this bat, and it appears they didn’t like that market either. Also heavily playing in this discussion is Moore’s inability to want to part with one of three highly regarded bullpen arms(Greg Holland, Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera). I felt this would be the smarter way to go this winter, but Dayton must feel they are just too valuable to the success of this Royals team to pull that trigger. With that said, this obviously left the Royals with very few options and Morales must have looked like the best choice.

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The question is going to get asked, so lets answer it; if the Royals are not rotating the DH spot now, wouldn’t a younger Billy Butler be the better option for Kansas City? This is probably one of the most loaded questions a Royals fan can ask, but I will attempt to answer it. In theory it would appear Butler would be the better option; he is younger, has more upside and the Royals would already know what they are getting. But with Billy there is also the question of whether he is on a decline as well. His 2013 wasn’t spectacular, but 2014 was easily Butler’s worst major league season and his power has really gone M.I.A. the last two years. You could make the argument that Morales’ chances of producing more power are higher, and and he has a more consisent history of proven power. I would like to think Butler would have been the better option over Morales, even if the Royals had just picked up Butler’s $12mm option for 2015. But it might just be an argument of one declining player over the other.

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How you feel about this signing is probably hindered on whether or not you feel 2014 was an anamoly for Morales. If it was, this would appear to be a good acquisition by Dayton and will help the Royals offense in 2015. I tend to sit in the camp that believes Morales is on the decline and the numbers we saw from him last year are probably close to what we will see next year. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the rotating DH scenario, but I easily preferred it over this. It appears the flexibility on this team has gone down again, barring another move. I’m hoping I am wrong about Morales and we see the guy who has a major offensive force for the Angels and Mariners in the past. I fear instead the Royals just fit themselves with a two year albatross around their neck that will weigh this team down.

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Earlier this week the Royals re-signed Luke Hochevar to a two year deal with a mutual option for a third. Hochevar missed all of 2014, as he went through the dreaded(and now normal) Tommy John surgery but looks to be on track to be ready to start 2015. Hochevar is planning to start throwing off a mound later this month to get ready for the next season and appears to be headed back to the bullpen where he garnered success back in 2013. That might not be 100% guaranteed, as Hochevar has bonuses in his contract that can earn him $500K worth of incentives for non-closing relief work, $500K of incentives for closing work and up to $2MM for starting. Yes, bonuses for Hochevar starting, where he was less than average over his career and made me stamp him onto my list of most hated Royals. But that was before 2013 and before he showed value out of the bullpen. Once the Hochevar signing became official, a thought kept popping into my head; is this a move done so the Royals can trade either Greg Holland or Wade Davis?

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The Royals went into this offseason needing two major things-a new right fielder and another starting pitcher. The market for free agent outfielders has diminished heavily this winter and leaves the team in a position where a trade seems like a better option for the team. The Royals aren’t going to majorly tear apart the defending American League Champions and only have a few players that could be traded and net them some value without ripping the fabric of the team apart. The biggest position of depth is the bullpen, with the “cyborgs” of Holland, Davis and Kelvin Herrera leading the team throughout the playoffs and showing baseball what a dominant pen can do for a team in the postseason. With that said, it would appear that closer Greg Holland has the most value and is also the most expensive. He is currently making $4.675MM and that number looks to rise this winter in arbitration. MLBTradeRumors.com predicts Holland could see a raise of another $4.62MM, which would push his salary close to $10MM for 2015. I love “Dirty South” as much as the next Royals fan but I also realize that relievers are the easiest position to replace and closers normally have a small shelf life. It just seems to make sense to trade Holland now while he is at his highest value and net the biggest return you can from a trade. The Royals were burned from staying loyal to a closer in the very recent past, as Kansas City stuck with Joakim Soria, who missed the 2012 season due to his second Tommy John surgery. Soria would leave after that season, signing with the Rangers and leaving the Royals without anything in return. So it makes sense to see just what could be had by dealing Holland this winter.

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So if the Hochevar signing was made so the team could trade Holland for an outfielder, how would that reshape the bullpen? It would appear if that happened Wade Davis would move up from setup man to closer. Davis had a ridiculous 2014 season, one that made him one of the best relievers in baseball. His season was so ridiculous that Davis didn’t give up but 5 extra base hits the whole season, none in the first half of the season and gave up NO home runs. Not even one. To say Davis could probably easily slide into the closers role sure seems like an understatement and almost seems like the smart thing to do if Holland is traded. Herrera could slide into the setup role while Hochevar and possibly Jason Frasor could fill in during the 6th and 7th innings. There is no way to tell if this group would put up the same numbers that “HDH” put up in 2014, but the belief is it wouldn’t be too far off.

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It could just as easily be Wade Davis who gets traded, as there has been interest for both him and Holland. But the smarter play at this point is trading Holland, if for no other reason than to give the Royals more payroll flexibility. It’s no big secret that Kansas City doesn’t have one of the higher payrolls in the sport, but it is one that has steadily increased year by year and looks to reach the $100MM threshold for the upcoming 2015 season. A lot of this money is already earmarked for players already with the team and according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the team really only has enough money for one of their needs, not both:

With that said, it appears a deal where they can shed some hefty payroll AND acquire one of their needs would be the wise choice to do.  Kansas City has already picked up the $7MM option on Davis, and with Holland estimated to be making around $9.3MM it would appear Holland would give them more flexibility. Either option would help the team, but with the salary that would be freed up and with Holland appearing to bring the Royals more value, it would be wise at this point to trade Holland, not Davis.

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The hard part of this whole thing is the fact that a trade even has to happen at all. What Herrera, Davis and Holland accomplished this year was magical and more than likely won’t be duplicated any time soon. It would be great to keep this trio together for the forseeable future but baseball’s landscape makes it hard to do that when you are a small market team. At some point the money is just too much and it becomes apparent that the money could be used in other, more needed areas. The Royals are at that point and with Hochevar and Frasor back in the fold it appears the team has more than enough depth to weather the storm. If Kansas City is wanting to stay as a contender in 2015 they are going to need at least one more solid bat and another starting pitcher, and that can’t be accomplished at the team’s current payroll structure. That means someone has to go, and it looks like one of the team’s elite relievers will have to be dangled for a bat. It’s not the fun part about baseball, but it is a necessary part. The only question going forward is whether Dayton Moore will pull the trigger or not. It’s not the popular move to make, but it does appear to be the intelligent one.

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The 2014 Major League Baseball season has come to an end, which also means that all ballots have been turned in to decide the winners in the awards to be announced this week. I was fortunate to turn in my first ballot as a member of the IBWAA, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, this year and realized a few things. One, this isn’t as easy as one thinks it is. I spent a lot of time thinking about who I really felt should win these awards and who truly should be honored. I also realized that it is MY vote, and though I am positive some will disagree with it, it is just one man’s opinion. I also should stress this: I turned in my ballot about two weeks before the end of the season. In hindsight, I probably should have waited, but that is a lesson learned and will prepare better for 2015. So without any further ado, here are my winners for the 2014 season…

American League MVP: Alex Gordon, Kansas City

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We can probably all agree that Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels had the best numbers for a player in the American League this year. I don’t argue that, nor am I trying to take that away from him. But my vote was based more on who was more valuable to his team this year in the league, and in my opinion that man is Alex Gordon. Not too long ago I made Gordon’s case for MVP, as I felt he shouldn’t be overlooked when it came time for the voting. I know I am a bit biased, if for no other reason than the fact that I watch the large majority of Royals games during the season. The thing about Gordon is his numbers don’t tell the whole story; he is the leader of this Royals team in so many facets of the game. Obviously his defense is of another caliber, as most know. His WAR numbers get a nice bump from his defensive metrics, as he finished the year 7th in the AL in bWAR with 6.6 and 5th in fWAR with 6.1. You could also add in the 27 defensive runs he saved this year on defense, 1st in the league with Josh Donaldson far behind in 2nd place with 20 DRS. Gordon is also an excellent base runner, and was most valuable when the Royals needed him to be. Gordon basically carried the team on his back in August, a month where the Royals made one of their biggest pushes for a playoff spot. Gordon had a slash line of .292/.356/.585 with 9 home runs and 16 RBI’s. Alex was what the Royals needed when they needed it this year to help propel them to the playoffs. This Royals team doesn’t go on the run they went on in the playoffs if not for Gordon being a leader during the regular season. In fact, without him this Royals team doesn’t even get to October. For that, my most valuable player vote goes to Alex Gordon.

National League MVP & Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles

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What else can be said about Clayton Kershaw’s season that hasn’t already been said? Kershaw had a season for the ages, one that was so good that the comparison’s toward all-time great Sandy Koufax don’t really feel far-fetched anymore. Kershaw lead the league in Wins(if you like that sort of thing), Win-Loss Percentage, ERA, Complete Games, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, Strikeouts per 9 inn., Strikeout to Walk Ratio and was an All-Star as well. Oh, and he threw his first career no-hitter, a game so dominant that only one other pitcher(Kerry Wood) has thrown a better game, and that was just a piddly 20-strikeout game. All this while missing the entire month of April(after throwing the season opener in Australia)! Kershaw was so dominate this season that I also felt like he was the MVP of the National League, which some folks in baseball(hello, Tommy Lasorda) feel a pitcher shouldn’t win the award for Most Valuable Player. But when a pitcher has a season like this (and no other major candidate really sticks out) it throws that pitcher into the MVP conversation. I had seriously considered both Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh and Giancarlo Stanton of Miami for the award, but alas I felt Kershaw was more valuable to the Dodgers success than either of those two were for their teams. Kershaw winning MVP isn’t like Willie Hernandez winning American League MVP back in 1984; Kershaw is not only an elite pitcher at the moment but if he continues on the path he is going he could be an all-time great. So as preposterous as some believe a pitcher winning MVP is, just remember it in the proper context; Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball and it isn’t even close.

American League Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Seattle  

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Out of all the votes I had to place, this was easily the toughest decision to make. It came down to Hernandez and Corey Kluber of Cleveland and honestly, a pick either way didn’t feel like a bad one. As someone who watches close to every Royals game during the season I had seen Kluber several times and saw just how dominant he was for the Indians this year and in some ways that almost swayed my vote. Obviously in a close vote you compare numbers and once again, they were pretty damn even. David Schoenfield goes into great detail about just how close this race was and why really neither pitcher was a bad choice. My only hope is no one voted for Kluber just based off of win totals; that would just seem silly. I think the biggest argument for Hernandez(at least in my eyes) was his streak of 16 starts of at least 7 innings giving up 2 runs or less which he held this year until August 17th. The previous mark was set all the way back in 1971 by Tom Seaver as he set the mark of 13 starts. In this day in age, where most starters have a rough time going more than 6 innings a start and where teams employ lockdown bullpens as part of their strategy, the fact a starting pitcher could accomplish this feat is borderline amazing. The fact that Hernandez was able to accomplish this really swayed my vote and was enough to warrant his second Cy Young award. The real point of this is that if I would have gone with Kluber it wouldn’t have been a bad choice either; there was no bad choices. Just two pitchers who had excellent seasons and both deserved consideration for this award.

American League Rookie of the Year: Jose Abreu, Chicago   

Cleveland Indians v Chicago White Sox

This was about as easy a choice as possible. From almost day one Abreu showed he was the real deal, which is never a certainty with any talent from Cuba. But Abreu made sure it was known early he was as advertised, hitting 29 home runs, a slash line of .292/.342/.630 and an sOPS+ of 169 in the first half of the season. His power numbers went down in the second half, hitting only 7 home runs while producing a slugging percentage of .513 and raising his batting average and sOPS+. I’m sure the longer season wore on Abreu, but all in all he put in a rookie season that should be praised for years to come. It’s a bit unfortunate that Abreu ran away with this award, as the American League put together a nice crop of rookies in 2014, from New York Yankees Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Bettances to Kansas City’s flame-throwing hurler Yordano Ventura. All had really solid opening campaigns but none matched Abreu who should be a solid bat in Chicago’s batting order for years to come.

National League Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati

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This race was much closer than it’s AL counterpart, as it came down to New York Mets pitcher Jacob DeGrom and Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton. Honestly, an argument for either rookie is valid and a part of me almost voted for DeGrom. But I liked all the different area’s of the game that Hamilton helped the Reds this year. Everyone knows of Hamilton’s speed, he of the 56 steals this year. But he also produced 200 total bases only grounded into 1 double play this year and 39 extra bases. There was a small downside to his year; Hamilton struck out a ridiculous amount for a top of the order guy, 117 times, and was caught stealing 23 times. Both of these facets will need to be improved upon in 2015 for him elevate his game. Defensively Hamilton was more than solid; 14 defensive runs saved in 2014, 10 assists and an 1.8 dWAR. Overall a more than solid rookie campaign for Billy Hamilton(and likewise for DeGrom) and for the Reds sake(especially if they want to contend in 2015) hopefully he can grow on it.

American League Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Oakland 

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I mentioned earlier that I should have waited and locked in my votes during the last week of the season and this selection is a big reason why. Do I think Bob Melvin did a fabulous job managing the A’s in 2014? Of course. This was a team that was one of the elite in baseball for a large chunk of the season, a team of no superstars, compiled together and platooned–yet they still reached the playoffs. But just barely and Oakland’s second half collapse almost cost them that postseason spot, one they didn’t clinch until the last weekend and left them in Kansas City for the one game “battle to the death” Wild Card game. For that reason I feel like I should have waited to vote, as Buck Showalter deserved high praise for this honor and very well might have been my vote. Hell, throw Mike Scioscia’s hat into this argument as well, as the Angels came from behind to not only win the American League West but put together the best record in the league. Lesson learned by me, but I still think Melvin should get a ton of credit. No way does Oakland even sniff the playoffs if an average manager is in charge of this team. Melvin maneuvered and coddled this roster and got top notch performance out of his team. Something has to be said for being able to get the most out of the talent you have, especially when your talent doesn’t always match up with the best teams in baseball.

National League Manager of the Year: Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh 

MLB: NL Wild Card-Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates

The easy thing is to say Hurdle deserved this honor more in 2013. That year he guided Pittsburgh to their first playoff spot in over 20 years and helped the Pirates slay some demons. But for all the love Hurdle got in 2013, he deserves even more for his managerial work in 2014. Hurdle helped the Pirates reach the playoffs again this past season and did it without their ace from 2013(A.J. Burnett), their closer fizzled out and was eventually traded(Jason Grilli), they lost their star(Andrew McCutchen) for a few weeks and lost their future ace(Gerrit Cole) multiple times to the disabled list. Despite all of this the Pirates made back to back appearances into the postseason and although that only lasted one game(thanks to Brandon Crawford and Madison Bumgarner) it just showed the great job Hurdle did as manager this season. Honorable mention should go out to both Matt Williams of Washington and Mike Redmond of Miami. Both did a great job with their team this past year and that was not lost on me. It just felt like Hurdle accomplished the insurmountable and continued to show that he has been one of the best Pittsburgh acquisitions the last few years.

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So there you go, my picks for the 2014 IBWAA end of season awards. This was a great learning experience and makes me even more pumped for my next ballot, the upcoming Hall of Fame vote. Voting seems like an easy chore from the outside looking in, yet there is a decent amount of pressure if you take them seriously. I have a feeling that the next vote will go a bit smoother. The great thing about the voting process is that they inspire endless debate. One man’s vote is another man’s worst nightmare…that was mainly meant for anyone who voted Ned Yost ‘Manager of the Year’. So you might not agree with my vote’s, just know that can go both ways. It is all just a matter of opinion at the end of the day.

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It was inevitable that Billy Butler would be leaving Kansas City this year, the only question was where he would be landing. We got our answer Tuesday night as it was announced that Butler was headed to the west coast to join the Oakland A’s, agreeing to a 3 year/30 million dollar contract. I have seen a lot of varying opinions on the signing and it’s affect on both Kansas City and Oakland, so let’s look at the fallout from Butler’s signing.

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Let’s start with it’s affect on Oakland. They get the right handed bat they wanted for the middle of the order, and they plan on playing Butler at both DH and first base. Where will he bat in the order?

So there you go. Billy had been wanting to play some more first base the last few years and that just wasn’t going to happen in Kansas City, unless Eric Hosmer would injure himself again. Oakland also has a number of run producers in the middle of their offense, guys like Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss, so Butler won’t be asked to be the main cog in the offensive machine. A lot of times in Kansas City Butler was asked to be “the guy”, which just wasn’t realistic. This will give Billy the chance to perform with a little less pressure than he had for the Royals. For all we know, Oakland’s hitting coaches Darren Bush and Marcus Jensen will be able to unlock some of the power that has been missing from Butler’s bat the last two seasons.

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The affect on the Royals will be quite pronounced, as the team will finally be able to use the DH as a rotating position like they have wished for the last few seasons. This will give guys like Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon days off in the field, and even help a veteran like Omar Infante rest a day if they are experiencing minor injuries. In my mind this also means they need to sign not one, but two OF/DH types this offseason. If they are going to not only replace Butler’s numbers but also gain on them, they need more than just one bat. The honesty of this situation is that the Royals are not a great offensive force, and even to say they are “good” might be questionable. So if they are wanting to improve the offense, acquiring just one bat seems very shortsighted. Getting two bats, plus throwing in Jarrod Dyson occasionally gives them a chance to rotate players and use the DH the way they have dreamed of since 2012.

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So despite seeing how this could be major plus for both teams, I’ve still heard a few fans make the comment that Billy didn’t really want to stay in Kansas City, and I just don’t believe that is true. I think Butler meant it when he said he loved Kansas City and wanted him to stay. I just don’t think Royals management was as keen about keeping him around. Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star has done a good job of chronicling the Butler situation this offseason. Money was obviously an issue:

Plus there was this comment from Butler’s press conference with Oakland today:

There is also David Glass. I really feel his quote speaks volumes:

So as you can see, things weren’t as rosy and sweet between Butler and Royals management as some seem to think. Do you remember earlier in the season, when Butler’s production was coming into question while other Royals who weren’t producing(ie. Hosmer) seemed to be ignored? Or September, after Hosmer came back from injury and manager Ned Yost seemed to favor Josh Willingham at DH instead of Butler? After all this, and the expectations from fans for him to repeat his stellar 2012, it makes you wonder a bit why he would even want to come back. So the fact that he gave the Royals last chance tells me just how much Billy Butler wanted to stay a Royal:

So how much of this was about money?

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As with baseball in general, money is always an issue. It plays an issue here too, but so does playing time and years on the contract. I personally feel like Butler would have taken less money if it meant he would get the same amount of playing time and only a 2 year contract. Instead the Royals had already planned to not have a fulltime DH and weren’t willing to go more than 1 year on a new deal with Butler. Plus, let’s be honest and frank here(or Susan, if you don’t like being frank). A baseball player has a very short shelf life when it comes to active playing time and years to really make big money, since most players don’t make a bunch of money early in their career. So when a player is approaching 30 and looking for a new deal, they are just as big on years as money when it comes to guaranteed contracts. So when the A’s offered more years(3) and more money than Billy made in 2014(8 mill in ’14, 10 mill in ’15-’17) it’s hard to turn that down, especially when you are coming off of the worst year of your major league career. Plus, it seemed like Oakland wanted Butler, which I’m not so sure about when it comes to the Royals. It’s easy for any fan to sit there and say “he just wanted the money”, but in his situation, the desire to be wanted outweighs a dollar total. Like this:

So was this about money? Maybe a bit. But it was also about more than just money. The honest truth is if the Royals had really wanted Butler back, he would be in Royal blue. Instead he will be wearing white cleats come February:

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I am like most Royals fans in that I would have liked to have seen Butler return to Kansas City. But I understand that sometimes the financial aspect of baseball makes it hard for a team(especially a small market team) to keep a player for the duration of his career. It was a great 8 years that Billy Butler and the Kansas City Royals got to share together. I know I will never forget hearing Kauffman Stadium chant Billy’s name at the 2012 Home Run Derby. There was definite love that night between the fans and Butler, as there was during Game 3 of the ALDS this October when Butler stole second base. Butler loved Kansas City and for the most part Kansas City loved him. I wish the best for Butler in Oakland and plan on cheering him when he returns to ‘The K’ in April. We still have the memories, folks. We should always remember though that nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain. The new chapter for the Royals involves no Billy Butler, as it should. Life and baseball moves on, as it always will.