The first year of the Dayton Moore tenure in Kansas City, I applauded many of the small micro-management decisions he was making and was immediately excited to see that franchise begin to grow out of decades of failure. For example, as soon as Moore departed Atlanta for Kansas City, he significantly expanded the baseball operations department in the front office. He also acquired my favorite pitcher and future pitching coach, Brian Bannister, for next to nothing. Now I have begun to worry about whether or not Moore will be able to get the Royals out of the cellar for another couple of years.
I looked at that roster this afternoon, and unless Royals owner David Glass continues to be committed to putting money into his franchise and the Royals can successfully lure talent to the mid-western city, things are not looking up. Presently, the Royals have to address improvements at catcher (John Buck/Miguel Olivo), first-base (Ross Gload), shortstop (Mike Aviles/Tony Pena Jr.) and left-field (Mark Teahen). Not to mention that the development of Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and Mark Teahen has not gone according to plan. I feel as though to bring this team back to competition, all of these positions need upgrades offensively and defensively. Bringing in an experienced power hitter would absolutely help make everyone else better and in looking at the potential 2009 free agent market, a player that would really make sense is Mark Teixeira. He is a gold-glove player and would absolutely help take pressure away from Alex Gordon and Jose Guillen. He also is probably out of their price range and is not going to be lured to a city that has had one winning season since the 1980's.
If the free agent market is not kind once again to the Royals this offseason, where they have to overspend in order to acquire mid-ranged players (i.e. - Gil Meche or Jose Guillen), then there are some trade options that I would reccomend. Boston's Coco Crisp will be very available and will be entering the final year of his contract in 2009. He has played gold glove caliber defense in center-field, making some breathtaking catches over the past two seasons. I do not believe that Crisp is going to ever be a superstar, but his range and instincts in the outfield would be a great addition to the Royals. I would much rather see David DeJesus in left field and Mark Teahen on the bench as he has showed me that he is not going to be a consistent major league contributor. Teahen's ability to play the corner positions would suit him well to be a super sub. If Mike Aviles continues to hit the way he has, then he will have earned the spot in their 2009 team. The knock I have on him is that he does not appear to work counts well, which can be a sign of trouble for younger players. Jeff Keppinger, who has done nothing but hit for great contact since coming to the majors, would be a good guy to take a flier on. He has never received full playing time in his career, if the Royals have the need for a shortstop, he is a guy to watch.
There are some power options that would be very cheap this offseason such as Richie Sexson. While Sexson is perhaps 2007 and 2008's worst everyday player, if he were to be able to figure out how to make consistent contact again, he has 30 home run power and would be a cheap incentive based option. He would come cheap and has upside to help out the team's power total. It also would be helpful to get him out of spacious Safeco Field. Also there is Ross Gload to platoon him with, which could certainly boost production at first for Kansas City.
The Royals are in an interesting position, with so many young players that have not quite figured it out at the major league level yet, they could explode onto the scene in 2009 much like the Rays have done in 2008. With added veteran leadership and support, this could be that team. With the potential addition of Coco Crisp and Mark Teixeira, the Royals would have added two gold glove caliber defenders as well as capable offensive players. Time will tell if David Glass and Dayton Moore go in this direction, but it makes a lot of sense to add those two.