published Friday, Wayne McDonnell, an associate professor of sports management at New York University, played up the Royals’ chances in 2013.
Naturally, I wanted to know more, so I contacted McDonnell, who specializes in the business of baseball.
“I guess I’ve played some close attention to the Royals since the All-Star break,” McDonnell said by phone. “In the current trend in baseball, we’re seeing the Orioles, the Rays, even the Pirates, these mid-market teams are finally are coming into their own and teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies that are overspending are having some difficulty this year.
“I look at the Royals roster: they’re young, they’re talented, they’ve definitely needed some seasoning over the past couple of years. That’s why I think next year is the year they’re going to take the next step forward.”
Of course, there is a caveat for the Royals, who haven’t made the playoffs since 1985 and haven’t even had a winning season since 2003.
“I think the Royals are in a position where they are probably going to have to move one of their young prospects and ballplayers to get pitching,” McDonnell said. “That’s the one area I thought that would be able to take them to the next step.”
Forget for a moment that the Royals marketing department declared “Our Time” as the slogan for this year and then we all watched the team struggle so much early that a .500 season is a longshot.
McDonnell rattled off the names Mike Moustakas, Salvy Perez, Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer.
“There is a core nucleus that reminds me of the Tampa Bay Rays right before the 2008 season when people started taking notice of them,” McDonnell said.
“But for them to make that next significant step, they’re probably going to have deal a guy like Billy Butler. I know that’s something that’s very difficult to hear, but you can get value for him.
“Not only is he an All-Star this year, but there is value, especially for a ballplayer of that ilk in the American League, and I can easily see a team giving up a significant pitcher to get a guy like that.”
A trade of that nature, McDonnell believes, would serve notice around the league.
“That is the type of move that would send a ripple effect throughout baseball that says, ‘the Royals are getting ready to take off,” McDonnell said.
And he believes that despite the struggles this season, the Royals are ready for bigger and better things in 2013.
“The young talent they have right now,” McDonnell said, “would be very encouraging if I were a Royals fan.”