Last night’s exciting end to the American League Division Series set up an intriguing matchup between the Royals and the Blue Jays. And it provides us an opportunity to take a look at some notes on the teams that just finished playing in the ALDS:
- The Royals‘ bold trade deadline moves paid off big in the ALDS, writes Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star. “This year, we believed we had a chance to do it, and to do it right and to fix what we didn’t get done last year,” said club owner David Glass. Mid-season trade acquisition Johnny Cueto was masterful last night, of course, while Ben Zobrist has been his steadily excellent self. “It’s difficult to give up the prospects, but … you go for it when you have a chance,” Glass added, explaining that he placed trust in GM Dayton Moore.
- Glass heaped praise on Moore, explaining that the organization’s leaders always envisioned the creation of a multi-year contention window, as Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com writes. “When we hired Dayton, that was the plan all along,” he said. “We weren’t interested in just getting there one year and not getting back. That required a lot of patience on his part, along with [club president] Dan [Glass], despite the criticism to the contrary from some people in the media. He stood in there and built something that is here to last.”
- While Kansas City’s window should remain open for some time after this season, as Glass suggested, tough decisions are never far away. There was a slightly wistful moment in Glass’s comments, which came when discussing the need to seize the moment. “One of these days,” he said, “you’ve got some guys on this team we’re not going to be able to afford. That’s sad but true. Hopefully, we’ll keep them together for some period of time, the core group, but that’s real life with small markets.”
- Speaking of Cueto, his performance over the final games of the year could go some way toward setting up his hard-to-predict upcoming free agent case. His struggles down the stretch for the Royals are well-documented, but going eight strong innings last night — with eight strikeouts and no walks — was exactly the kind of performance that the team and prospective suitors were looking for. Cueto’s overall body of work is unassailable, of course, but he has a chance to tamp down any concerns with the status of his valuable right elbow.
- Blue Jays lefty Brett Cecil, who tore his left calf just days ago, is going to try his best to return to playoff action, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. There’s no chance that he’ll be ready for the next round, so the only way he’d possibly make it back is if Toronto makes it into the World Series.
- If there was a goat in last night’s action, it was Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who committed two key errors in the unbelievable seventh inning against Toronto. While that obviously represents a sour end to his season, it should not be forgotten that Andrus did a lot to restore his standing in 2015. The 27-year-old batted a sturdy .277/.320/.398 in the season’s second half while reversing some of the defensive decline that metrics saw last year. That’s hardly world-beating stuff, but it’s critical to Texas that Andrus can at least represent an average option at short given that he’s still owed over $100MM going forward.
- We already addressed Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus in a bullet this morning, but another Houston player who continued to build his stock is slugger Chris Carter. He ended up with a .294/.400/.529 batting line over twenty plate appearances, continuing to build off of the .240/.328/.558 batting line and nine home runs that he put up over his final 120 plate appearances. MLBTR projects Carter to earn $5.6MM in his second of four trips through arbitration. That’s not cheap — remember, dingers pay — but it’s nothing compared to what power will cost on the open market. After seeming like a non-tender candidate several months back, Carter will once again be an interesting possible trade target to keep an eye on this winter.