2011 Organization Rankings: #25 Kansas City

The minor league talent may be impressive, but deficiencies in every other category put the Royals near the bottom of the list once again.

Present Talent – 65.00 (30th)

Royals Season Preview

Future Talent – 95.00 (1st)

Royals Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources – 71.00 (25th)
Baseball Operations – 75.00 (25th)

Overall Rating – 73.80 (25th)

Despite a bundle of prospects that rank among the best ever; the Royals’ failures at the major league level, combined with the uncertainties surrounding their financial flexibility have led to another poor showing in the Organization Rankings. While their talented prospects certainly make the Royals a team on the rise, the eventual promotion of those prospects will have a major impact on each aspect of the Royals’ organization.

Due to their small market size, and their moderate payrolls, the Royals ranked 25th overall in financial resources. Since David Glass purchased the team in 2000, the Royals have slowly increased their payroll, but they still aren’t what you would refer to as big spenders. The Royals payroll this season, however, will be severely depressed following the loss of their seven most expensive contracts from last season (according to Cot’s). Perhaps due to the state of the franchise, the Royals haven’t really handed out any long-term contracts lately either. The only player the Royals have committed to past this season is Billy Butler, who signed an extension in January.

This current strategy could pay huge dividends going forward provided Glass is willing to hand out contracts once the Royals’ young stars start reaching the majors. If the past is any indication, however, Royals’ fans have some reason for concern. In the time that Glass has owned the Royals, the team has traded off it’s most valuable assets. Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran all came up through the Royals’ system, and all were traded once it became clear the Royals were not willing to offer them long-term contracts.

Due to Glass’ history, it’s unclear whether things will change with this new batch of prospects. If these prospects are as good as advertised, the Royals will eventually have to start paying out significant cash to keep them (either through arbitration or extensions). With so little money tied up in this team going forward, it would be wise for the Royals to consider handing out long-term contracts to their prospects early in their careers. By guaranteeing some financial security to the youngsters early, the Royals stand to save an obscene amount of money as these players develop in the majors.

This process has actually become pretty commonplace in the majors recently; as Evan Longoria, Justin Upton, Ryan Braun and Jay Bruce have all signed significant contracts early in their careers. These contracts, especially Longoria’s, are completely slanted in the team’s favor as the players mentioned are likely to outperform what they are being paid. If the Royals use this strategy, it could pay huge dividends down the road.

It’s also unclear whether Glass would actually be willing to increase payroll as the team begins their climb towards respectability. The commitment to Butler, however, may signify that the team is changing how they will handle their young prospects. If Glass is willing to spend a little more to keep the Royals’ core intact, this team could turn into a perennial contender once all the pieces arrive. That’s a strange notion to ponder considering the current state of the franchise.

The rise of these prospects will obviously play a major role in how the team handles it’s financial resources going forward, but their performance will also affect how the Royals’ baseball operations are viewed. Despite strong recent drafts, the Royals’ baseball operations rated poorly in the Organization Rankings due to their past failures at the major-league level. If the prospects are as good as advertised, people will begin to “trust the process,” leading to a stronger ranking of the Royals’ baseball ops. Obviously, the performance of the prospects once they reach the majors will dictate the Royals’ future grade in the major league talent area as well. The Royals have a lot riding on their barrel of prospects, and their handling of these players will play a major role in the state of the franchise going forward. If handled properly, it’s not hard to see the Royals surging up this list in a few short years.

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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

50 Responses to “2011 Organization Rankings: #25 Kansas City”

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  1. Ari Collins says:

    First one I expect to be really controversial. There are many who would argue that the Royals’ past payrolls and past terrible use of those payrolls aren’t indicative of how they will spend and how much they will spend in the future. There are also those who overrate prospects, thinking that every one with star potential will become a star.

    But personally, I agree with the article. The Royals will get 3 or 4 stars out of their system at most, and until I see them ever do it, I’m not inclined to believe that the ownership and FO can put together a roster to support them.

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    • Kenny says:

      “3 or 4 stars out of their system at most”

      If this is the outcome of their current system, that would still be awesome. How many stars do most playoff teams have?

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      • Ari Collins says:

        Depends on where we draw the lines, I guess. You make a good point, but it’s 3 or 4 AT MOST. Plus the ability of Moore/Glass to surround them with good talent at a reasonable price.

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      • Reuben says:

        Just a hypothetical if they get 4 stars averaging 5 WAR per year, and they get 2 WAR from some of their current cast (Alcides, Gordon, Butler), that’s 26 WAR right there. Without any acquisitions that would make them roughly on par with last year’s Blue Jays. 2 or 3 even half decent FA signings would make them a playoff capable team.

        So 4 stars would be a fantastic outcome for them.

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      • TheRedTeleph0ne says:

        Three 4 WAR players, you mean like the Diamondbacks? That doesn’t even include their franchise right fielder. It takes a lot more than a couple all stars to make a team, and I just don’t trust Dayton Moore and Co. to make a complete team even if they do graduate several elite talents. They currently have one position player who posted 2 WAR last year, and a rotation fronted by Luke Hochevar.

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    • ecpgeo says:

      Agreed re past payrolls. One thing that Dayton Moore insisted on when he took the job was that he be given the flexibility to spend money, and David Glass has basically kept his hands out of things since then. The last good player the Royals have had and not signed long term is Carlos Beltran, and that was pre-Moore. Since taking over, Moore has given long term contracts to 100% of his valuable players.

      Now, if he had only had MORE valuable players in that span of time…But I do believe he will make the effort to sign this group as well.

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  2. frug says:

    One nitpick, Dye actually came up through the Brave’s system and was traded to the Royals after his rookie year.

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    • Chris Cwik says:

      Good point. Perhaps I should have said “spent his formative years with…”

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    • Bill says:

      That one looked initially like a big win for Atl because Tucker was great in ’97. Of course, that’s more than the Royals got for Dye.

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  3. D4P says:

    Jeff Francoeur.

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  4. Scott says:

    No matter how much success the future may bring, I’ll always view the Royals as the ATL Reject All-Stars.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I always view them as the team that dominated the AL West for a decade (mid 70s to mid 80s). That’s the image of them from my childhood.

      I am very anxious/skeptical/cautious about how this is going to play out for KC. I have been open with my wish for them to be really good and the fans get a team they deserve. Note: Their stadium really is beautiful and with the new upgrades makes an awesome family trip. I highly recommend it.

      However, most prospects don’t work out as well as expected, and they do have prospects that are suited for the same position, and well, pitchers are even less predictable.

      But how many prospects do they need to put up 3+ WAR seasons? Basically all of them.

      Research at BTB shows that a prospect promoted from the minors generally puts up their 1st “league average” (2 WAR) season in their 2nd FULL season. So, it’s possible that we’re looking at 2013 before they really getting to it.

      Like somebody else said, they also have to show that they can surround the “kids” with some quality pieces and not just over-pay for cast-offs.

      One of my points is that they need to take the “service time be damned” approach and get these guys to the majors and get that “first season” over with and out of the way, so when spring training 2012 comes, it’s all business, and everyone knows what’s what, and how the orgainization is going to go about it. You also don';t lose money by letting your fans know that 2011 is a “waste season”. They could prmote the heck out it “Let Them Play”.

      My concern is that they’ll piddle around with it, not allow time for mistakes, and experience unforeseen setbacks (injuries, free agents not available/signed, poor contracts, etc), and before you know it it’ll free agency time (4-5 years from now), and the guys will sign with other teams and KC may have experienced 1 winning season with the best group of prospects in recent history.

      If the Royals are smart and willing to spend, and spend wisely (namely in long-term extensions for the quality prospects they already have … after they have 3-4 years of MLB service time), they could (literally) develop into what Cleveland had in the 90s with all of their prospects that arrived in the majors together. They could do that, but I just have this empty feeling that they won’t. I would love to see these guys be the next version of late 70s group, but the odds that these guy stay together that long is just not good … meaning lots of pressure to do something in the next 3-5 years.

      Sorry … all my personal ramblings aside, I find the analysis in the article to be pretty spot on and well thought out. Certainly with all of the prospects and “what if” the analysis could run on for 30 pages, but the concerns wind down to the same thing, which you accurately described.

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      • ecpgeo says:

        I don’t get the impression that they are too concerned about the service time thing. Plus they are already assigning some of the kids a level higher than anybody expected, with the words “they are just a phone call away.” It seems like the team is just as eager to get the kids to KC as the fans are, and we are likely to see guys that we maybe weren’t expecting to see this year.

        As for allowing time for mistakes, two things you can say about Ned Yost: When he puts a guy in the lineup he stays in the lineup, good or bad. And he’s never been afraid to play the kids in his past managerial stints.

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      • tonysoprano says:

        Yes, I recall them being a very good team in the 70’s. Hope they can get back to that for their fans sake.

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      • steex says:

        “Research at BTB shows that a prospect promoted from the minors generally puts up their 1st “league average” (2 WAR) season in their 2nd FULL season. So, it’s possible that we’re looking at 2013 before they really getting to it.”

        “One of my points is that they need to take the “service time be damned” approach and get these guys to the majors and get that “first season” over with and out of the way, so when spring training 2012 comes, it’s all business, and everyone knows what’s what, and how the orgainization is going to go about it.”

        The latter quote above doesn’t necessarily agree with the former. The BTB research shows that a player makes it into their second full season before putting up “league average” numbers, but it does so with the assumption that the player was appropriately seasoned in the minors.

        Possibly rushing prospects to the majors in 2011 without that seasoning doesn’t mean that they are more likely to perform better in 2012 simply because it’s their second year. It’s not just a matter of getting that first season over with, they have to be ready for that step. In fact, it’s possible the opposite could be true – rushing a player to the big leagues too early can stagnate their progression if they are over-matched upon arrival, resulting in a net delay to their overall development.

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      • patrick says:

        how is it going to be FA time in 4-5 years when we’ve got these guys for 7 years?

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  5. Scout Finch says:

    Given the weights I see where this is heading:

    Yankees & Red Sox = top organizations.

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    • bill says:

      Well… they are? Good present talent, good finances, good baseball ops people.

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    • B N says:

      Yah, total shocker, right? Who else were you expecting? The Astros? The Brewers, who just sold the farm to compete this year? I would be hard pressed to say that ANY reasonable methodology would put anybody other than the Yankees and Red Sox in the top 5.

      So what gives? Are you complaining that the rankings are going to be fairly correct? Or that the top and bottom teams are fairly predictable? I mean… both are true, but from my standpoint neither is something worthy of complaint.

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      • B N says:

        “I would be hard pressed to say that ANY reasonable methodology would put anybody other than the Yankees and Red Sox in the top 5.”

        Should read:

        “I would be hard pressed to say that ANY reasonable methodology would put the Yankees and Red Sox in the top 5.”

        I restructured the sentence grammatically and had left orphan in there. My bad.

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      • Jason B says:

        I think your correction made it worse – it now reads like you don’t think that the BoSox or Yanks should land in the top five using any conceivable methodology. Which I think is the opposite of what you’re intending to say.

        Maybe “I would be hard pressed to say that ANY reasonable methodology would exclude the Yankees and Red Sox from the top 5.”

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      • jrogers says:

        Well, the correction made it the opposite of what you intended, but is that really worse than the original, which stated reasonable methodologies should have only 2 teams in their top 5?

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  6. Blue says:

    “the team has traded off it’s most valuable assets. Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran all came up through the Royals’ system, and all were traded once it became clear the Royals were not willing to offer them long-term contracts. ”

    Pretty ignorant statement, this. Dye would have been a poor extension or long term contract (he generated 1 WAR over the following three years for the As). Beltran publically refused to negotiate an extension or long-term deal (Boras wanted him in NY for the promotional opportunities) and I’ve never heard any evidence that Damon was open to an extension or long-term deal either. In any event, the Royals DID sign a valuable player who would agree to an extension to a 5 year deal–Mike Sweeney–so it wasn’t an absence of will for any LT contracts on the part of the club.

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    • Ari Collins says:

      ^^ This. And Greinke is a similar case.

      When you have one star and an otherwise-poor team, it makes sense to trade him and reload for sometime when you can put it all together.

      They locked up Butler, and hopefully that’s an indicator of a future ability to lock guys up, now that they have an oncoming wave of talent. But, again, the lack of history of locking guys up, whatever the reason, makes it hard to forecast them doing that in the future.

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      • BAS says:

        Don’t forget that Soria is on an insanely team-friendly deal.

        They have paid players early that show signs of becoming dominant. The Royals just do not have a lot of those players right now.

        I don’t think they have the worst MLB talent in the league though. There are some interesting players on that roster, if unproven.

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      • rbt says:

        Royals have locked up 100% of their top players since Dayton Moore took over: Soria, Greinke, Butler all signed long-term deals. So they aren’t without history of locking guys up under the current regime. They are, however, sorely lacking in top players.

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  7. Luke in MN says:

    The Royals should at least rank up at the top on a list of most fun orgs to watch in the coming years. I love how they not only have this swell of prospects coming up, but they’ve completely cleared the payroll out in preparation.

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  8. CircleChange11 says:

    I think you are spot on in regards to Damon and Beltran. I lived in KC during those years (The Derrick Thomas years), and the impression I got of Damon is that he thought he was too good for the Royals, which is not all that uncommon for really good players. Damon turned out to be much better than I thought, and getting out of KC was a great career move.

    Beltran’s agent made it known that Beltran was destined for better things, and he was right too.

    Unfortunate for the smaller teams.


    if the Royals can get 4-5 of these guys to sign long-term contracts by buying out arbitration years they could potentially reverse that trend. It’ll be some risk, but all contracts are.

    It will also change, somewhat, free agents views of “coming to KC”. They could be on a similar path as the Twins where homegrown talent plays and stays together. IMO, that will be good for both KC and MLB.

    I’m also glad to hear that “The Kids” will be getting called up sooner, rather than later. If so I plan on taking a few “Dad and Son” trips to The K this summer.

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  9. Blue 2 says:

    Should the Royals trade Soria?
    Try him at starter?
    Extend him past 2014?
    Keep him as the best closer on the team that least needs a closer?

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    • joe says:

      Are the Royals really #1 on future talent.? I understand the farm system is rated #1, but future talent also includes players under contract/team control beyond this year, correct?

      What is the relative weight between the farm system and future talent already at the MLB level when judging the “future talent” category?

      If you look at teams like the Rays or the Braves who have some talent at the MLB level under team control for awhile, does that overcome the difference in the farm system projections? Even a team like the Yankees who have guys like ARod & Tex under control for a while (even if you don’t like the contracts) as well as guys like Gardner and Hughes have significant future talent locked up beyond just the farm system

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      • joe says:

        Sorry, the post above was not meant as a reply to Blue2…

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      • Bronnt says:

        The FG staff erroneously decided that Future Talent = minor league talent. They basically left that assessment to the two prospect guys, who focused almost entirely on prospects.

        I personally think a lot of teams have better future talent than Kansas City-at least as far out as I’m willing to evaluate. I mean, the players that the Red Sox will have under contract in 2013 and 2014 look better than what Kansas City should have, if you regress for some uncertainty inherent in prospects. Maybe beyond that, KC’s future talent looks better, but it’s hard for anyone to speak knowledgeably about events beyond 3-4 seasons from now.

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      • Ari Collins says:

        I was going to say something similar to Bronnt right above. There’s a VERY important distinction to be made between future prospect talent and future talent overall.

        I’m a Sox fan, and I hope I’m not being a homer when I say I’d take the future talent of the Red Sox over the future talent of KC. A young (mostly) core of Adrian, Crawford, Youkilis, Pedroia, Lester, Buchholz, Ellbsury, Bard, and Lowrie is excellent, and they’re all locked up through 2013, with everyone but Ellsbury and Youkilis locked up past there. They should have a contending core for the next three or four years, which is value that’s not covered under “present talent” or “future talent”, since “present talent” doesn’t take into account the fact that the team is relatively young and locked up for the next few years, and “future talent” apparently only covers prospects.

        Of course, Boston will end up high on this list anyway, so it might be a bit moot, but I’m sure there are organizations this system will severely underrate because their future talent ISN’T prospects.

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      • joe says:

        For the Royals farm system = 1, future talent =1
        For the Astros farm system = 29, future talent = 30
        For the Marlins farm system = 20, future talent = t25
        For the D-Backs farm system = 10, future talent =16
        For the Pirates farm system = 13, future talent = 5 (?)

        It appears in some cases adjustments are being made… and if they are, I have a hard time believing the Royals are #1 (they may not even be in the top 5)

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  10. hawkinscm says:

    Are the Royals tied with around 5 other organizations in last place for current talent? If so, why? The Royals are bad to be sure, but they are not as bad as the Astros, Mariners, Pirates, and probably Cleveland. Short list, yes, but also pulls them out of 25th overall and onto something a little more respectable.

    Also, you talk about the low payroll like it’s a bad thing. And honestly, it’s not. Seriously. The Royals can do that much more with international signings if they want (and they are). So if you are trying to say that the payroll being minute going into 2012 is a bad thing, you are misunderstanding the financial element of these rankings. Or maybe FanGraphs writers are all misunderstanding that. Too much weight on actual spending, and not enough weight on getting value for the money.

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    • rbt says:

      I often wonder why the focus of spending is often on payroll. I suppose it’s because it’s the most obvious thing. Everybody always says, “The cheapskate Royals don’t/won’t spend money. Not so. They are one of the heaviest spenders in the draft and maintain seven minor league organizations when most teams carry six. They have reopened a Dominican operation for the first time in years and more than doubled their scouting staff under Moore. Not all spending is readily apparent.

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  11. KCandres says:

    I can’t argue with the #25 ranking now. When you sum everything up, even factoring in our ridiculously talented farm system, that’s about where we shake out. Honestly, whether it’s #20 or #25, I just don’t see that it matters all that much.

    I, like some have mentioned previously, would have liked to have seen better research going into the writing of this article though, in regards to the issues of resigning Damon, Beltran, and Dye. Dye was really the only one of the three mentioned, that would have signed to stay in KC and like others have pointed out, it would have been a bad signing. Damon and Beltran had no intention of signing an extension to stay in KC regardless of amount of $$ offered. Under Glass/Baird, the Royals resigned Sweeney, under Glass/Moore, they locked up Greinke then ended up trading him after the player demanded a trade, they locked up Soria and they locked up Butler.

    To me, the whole issue of whether or not Glass is “cheap”, is a thing of the past. He has shown a willingness to lock up young talent as of late, and since Moore has arrived, the Royals are among the top spenders in the draft and player development. Heck we even added recently, another minor league team! Unfortunately, years of poor management and being cheap, has still to this day affected the perception outside KC, that the Royals are cheap, when recent trends show clearly that we aren’t.

    Who knows if this wave, and the one coming after in 2014-ish, will enable us to become contenders…There is no such thing, as a sure thing. However, the odds are unquestionably in the Royals’ favor when you look at how things have shaken out for other organizations who ranked 1st in any given year’s prospect list over the past couple of decades. I’m excited as a Royals’ fan, for the first time in FOREVER!

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  12. Tim says:

    love the new sidebar

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  13. Bronnt says:

    Pretty much spot on with this ranking. Good restraint in not ranking the front office dead last, and giving them some credit for having built a solid farm system with a lot of prospects. 25th is right where they belong for now-just enough to give them credit for a willingness to spend a little money, and for having acquired a great group of prospects.

    Only thing I’d disagree with is the “future talent” ranking, but mostly that’s because I’m still caught up on the distinction between future talent and prospects.

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  14. CircleChange11 says:

    Steed … I don’t know about other posters, but when I said “4-5 star players” (or very good producers), I was envisioning 2 of them being pitchers.

    If they get 4-5 very good hitters out of this group of players, they would be sitting pretty.

    I think Mous and Hosmer can be as advertised. I have some questions about Myers (the RF prospect, if I have his name right) and May. I have less concerns about Kila, but I do wonder if he’ll have enough power for 1B/DH.

    I also think Cain should get a good look in CF.

    I would also keep Soria. His contract is friendly, and if this team gets in the 80-85 win potential, they’re going to need ~95% save conversions.


    to another comment, I wouldn’t bring up players that are not ready. But from what I gather Mous and Hosmer don’t have anything Elster to prove/gain in the minors. I’d just be holding my breath hoping they don’t foul a pitch off their ankle or get beaned in the hand/wrist.

    The next question would be where to play Hosmer. He BB and Kila can’t all DH/1B at the same time.

    I think a valid point could be made in keeping Monty and Lamb in the minors a bit longer.

    But my view on prospects has changed greatly. It’s basically “use them before you lose them” for small market teams. I just don’t think they have the same luxuries as other teams. And well, there’s only one way to find out if they can play at the MLlevel.

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  15. John H. C. says:

    I think future talent = not established MLers, while present talent = established MLers. While the Red Sox have a tremendous amount of relatively young talent, it is nearly all established. In contrast, the Royals have a tremendous amount of actually young talent, of which only Butler is established (maybe Soria, although the attrition rate for relievers is high). Or contrast with the Pirates, who have a decent amount of talent that are no longer prospects, but are mostly unproven at the ML level.

    I don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect that present talent is weighted more heavily than future talent, too.

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  16. GiantHusker says:

    I may post this on every organizational ranking. In Dave’s opening description, he said that young talent already on the team would be considered in “Future Talent” as well as minor leaguers. It is now clear that only “Top Ten Prospects” are considered in “Future Talent.” This also contradicts Dave’s assertion that the purpose of the rankings was to predict success for the next 3 years or so.
    Thus, the rankings are invalid for their purpose, as well as contradictory to what was promised.

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