I was reading a Boston Globe column (“Diminishing Returns” by Brian McGrory, November 1, 2005) about the sudden departure of Theo Epstein. In the column, McCrory was discussing an email he received from Red Sox owner John Henry regarding the rebuilding of the team this off season:
''There is quite a shortage of talent available this year in the free agent market," he wrote. ''At the same time there are a lot of clubs who have significantly increased dollars to spend, some of that due to the expiration of expensive and often bad contracts and some of it due to the increased attendance in 2005. This is not a favorable combination when you are trying to fill holes.”
This doesn’t bode well for the Royals. If you hadn’t heard, Royals GM Allard Baird announced last summer that “Phase I” of the rebuilding plan had concluded, and he was moving into “Phase II.”
Phase II, he explained, involved making deals to fill holes to try to solidify a roster that the team plans to contend with in the future. The holes were identified by watching the Royals lose 106 games this year and evaluating where they needed help. (I’m curious if Baird found any areas where they didn’t need help.)
Baird’s comments lead the Royals fan to believe that the Royals will be active this off season trying to make trades and sign free agents. But the list of available free agents that might be a good fit is pretty slim this year. The Royals need starting pitching, a corner outfielder or two, a second baseman, and bench help. If the Red Sox are worried about finding talent this year, I’m sure the Royals are going to struggle mightily to bring players to Kansas City. I’m afraid it’s going to be more of the same in 2006 unless Baird can pull off some sort of miracle.