Rob Neyer pointed out in his column today (http://mlb.sbnation.com/2011/6/10/2217662/kansas-city-royals-mike-moustakas-prospects-roster-news) how the Royals have officially graduated their two top hitting prospects to the Majors, as Mike Moustakas will join Eric Hosmer in the lineup tonight. Certainly, that is something to be excited about, but what happens from here. The inconsistencies, as discussed yesterday, in Luke Hochevar, the struggles of prospect Danny Duffy (5 starts, 0-2, 5.55 ERA), the hopes of a rejuvenated career and shoulder on Jeff Francis, and the drastic fall to Vin Mazzaro, Kyle Davies, and Sean O’Sullivan, makes their arrival a ho-hum-s0-what-who-cares scenario. Having guys like Moustakas and Hosmer is great, but if they score or create four runs per game and the Royals awful pitching allows seven, what does it matter?
The Brewers had a similar situation when they graduated Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and Prince Fielder to the Majors. Weeks was the first to arrive in 2005, Fielder and Hart arrived in 2006 (though Hart in a part-time role), and Braun arrived in 2007. Once the offensive core was there, the Brewers were set, right? In 2007, they had Ben Sheets and Yovani Gallardo, though Sheets only made 24 starts and Gallardo finished with 17, so the injury bug was hitting Sheets and Gallardo didn’t get a full season in. In 2008, Gallardo only had 4 starts, but the Brewers had Sabathia go 11-2 down the stretch, as they won 90 games, and Sheets won 13 in 31 starts. 2009 led to Gallardo becoming the ace (13-12, 3.73 ERA), Sheets was gone and Braden Looper won 14 games while posting a 5.22 ERA, and the Manny Parra, David Bush, Jeff Suppan, Chris Narveson, Chris Capuano mess that followed them led to a below-.500 record for the 2nd straight season. The Brewers had all of the offensive talent in the world, but they couldn’t even win a weak NL Central all of those years because they never had enough pitching. Sheets was an ace, when healthy, and Gallardo was becoming one in 2009 and is officially an ace now. The Brewers have spent millions and traded away a lot of their farm system to land Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, and while Chris Narveson is still finishing out the starting 5, Randy Wolf is a solid #4.
The Royals have a lot of work to do still. With their inability to spend money, or unwillingness, to land free agents, they may need to continue growing talent to trade away for established talent. The Brewers had to give up Brett Lawrie, Jake Odorizzi, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, and Jeremy Jeffress to land Greinke and Marcum. A future All-Star, an ace, solid defensive SS, formidable CF, and a lockdown relief prospect are the potential limits for those five. While Kansas City had what looked like a great crop of young arms arriving in Aaron Crow, Danny Duffy, Mike Montgomery, and John Lamb, they have had their issues this year. Duffy is struggling in the Majors, Lamb had Tommy John surgery, Montgomery has a 5.22 ERA in 13 Triple-A starts, and Crow is dominating out of the bullpen in the Majors and may be too valuable to move out of there. They have Joakim Soria, rumored to be on the move to the rotation or possibly traded, and they drafted a future superstar in Bubba Starling, another amazing bat, but they seem to be a long way off. While there is still hope, they need to find a balance before they lose their future stars to free agency. Prince Fielder is a free agent after 2011, but the Brewers locked up Braun (through 2015), Weeks (through 2015), and Hart (throught 2013), so their window has extended. It’s time the Royals start doing something to win now, at any cost, just as the Brewers have.