So I've been watching the MLB Playoffs because I'm a red blooded American who is entertained by other things besides a panel of national experts analyzing cell phone pictures of Brett Favre's penis or Tom Brady's hair. I have been paying a lot of attention to the Phillies. I'm not exactly rooting for the Phillies, but I keep finding myself fascinated with how this team was constructed.
A solid mix of veterans. Very few rookies and young guns, but guys who have been there before. I will argue that the Phillies are the model franchise in baseball. Meanwhile, bloggers and fans alike try to compare the Royals current MiLB renaissance to the 2008 Rays or the 2010 Rangers or the 1969 Mets and everyone is left scratching their head on who exactly to compare this group of young minor league studs to!
Then it hit me. Like a big, neon, swinging Liberty Bell in centerfield.
The Royals are being built like the Phillies.
Think about it. It's not too far off, is it? I mean, Mike Arbuckle, the guy who had a hand in drafting Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins is currently employed by the Kansas City Royals.
People love knocking Dayton Moore for being a Braves guy. But, man, when you put this thing under the microscope, the similarities really start to pop.
First off, let's look at the Braves. Who are their core* players? Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, Tommy Hanson...and that's it. So you say, well that's just 2010! Ok, let's go back further:
*I define a "core" player as a player who is under 30 years old, was drafted by said team, was acquired via the Rule 5 draft or was acquired by said team via trade and spent time in said team's minor league system.
Atlanta Braves core players
2009- Brian McCann, Yunel Escobar, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson
2008- Brian McCann, Yunel Escobar, Jari Jurrjens
2007- Brian McCann, Yunel Escobar
2006- Brian McCann
Pretty good players, right? Yeah, but only FOUR each year. The Braves weren't built to last while Dayton Moore was in their front office. Maybe he got sick of the "Braves Way" and wanted to move on. Think about that. The Braves really didn't see many marquee players come up after Dayton Moore left. An outside guess on my behalf says that DM did not like the direction of the Braves and moved on to KC. Who better to bring in than Mike Arbuckle? A guy who built an awesome farm system in Philadelphia? The farm system that has payed dividends for the Phillies over the last three years? The farm system that has put the Phillies in three consecutive National League Championship Series?
So let's take a look at the Phillies core:
2010- Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson
2009- Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins
2008- Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins
The Phillies are built for longevity. Dayton Moore likely saw this and made the call to Mike Arbuckle, realizing that he may not have learned everything he needed to know in Atlanta. The track record shows that the Phillies have a system in place that builds the team for the long term, whereas in Atlanta during Dayton Moore's time, the team was not built for the long term. Dayton Moore wasn't around in Atlanta during the 90s when the Braves won division championships every year. In fact, he was in Atlanta when their downturn started in the early to mid 2000s.
So now, let's take a look at how the Royals core will potentially look moving forward, of course this is all speculation. There will be trades, etc.:
2011- Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler, Zack Greinke, Joakim Soria
2012- Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler, Zack Greinke, Joakim Soria, Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery, Chris Dwyer
2013- Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler, Joakim Soria, Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery, Chris Dwyer, John Lamb, Wil Myers, Christian Colon
2014- Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler, Joakim Soria, Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery, Chris Dwyer, John Lamb, Wil Myers, Christian Colon, Cheslor Cuthbert
Of course, there will be busts, injuries (God forbid), trades and other unforeseen circumstances, but this team is being built for the long term. The benefits of being patient and trusting The Process will be rewarded if these guys become our core. Then throw in some moves like trading for a Cliff Lee at the deadline or signing a Roy Halladay in the offseason, and we're not just looking at a perennial division champion, but a World Series contender year in, and year out.
Be patient. We'll get there soon enough.