I recently named the Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton as Rumor Royalty for the Royals. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for the site.
MLBTR: In general, the Royals are signing and entertaining free agents as if they expect to contend in 2008 (Miguel Olivo, Ron Mahay, Jose Guillen, Yasuhiko Yabuta). What’s your take on this strategy?
Dutton: They’ve done all that and tried to do more. As I mentioned above, I think they had the top bid on Kuroda, and I’m pretty sure they had the top bid on Andruw Jones. They were also a serious contender to sign Torii Hunter before the Angels blew away all bidders.
The reason is simple: They’re trying to win. General manager Dayton Moore knew only winning in his time in Atlanta and, for now, he’s got the green light from owner David Glass to spend money. They’ll never be one of the top-spending clubs, but they figure to be closer to the middle than the bottom.
One reality is, right now, they have to overpay guys to come to Kansas City. And one problem, right now, is overpaying isn’t always enough to get the player. The Tigers went through the same lurching process a few years back before Dave Dombrowski got things rolling.
What happened in Detroit was some of their pricey signings paid off and, more importantly, their farm system began to produce in a big way. That’s what must happen for the Royals to succeed.
Gil Meche pitched well last year and needs to continue doing so. Jose Guillen needs to be a reliable run-producer. The Royals can’t afford to be wrong when they shell out big bucks. Not often, anyway.
But the bigger key is whether Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mark Teahen, David DeJesus, Tony Pena, etc., can become the cornerstone of a winning club, and whether the farm system can produce top talent at a much higher rate.