Bomber Bites With Jumping Joe–Yankees Will Never Be Royal


The Royals are in the World Series for the first time since 1985.  First of all, congratulations to that organization, their fans and the city.  Second, to put in perspective what a 29-year wait between not just American League pennants, but even playoff berths, let’s look at some facts from 1985.  Ronald Reagan was President, he has been dead for over a decade now.  The movie “Back to the Future” came out in which Michael J. Fox went back in time 30 years to 1955.  If that movie was made next year, he could have gone back to 1985 and seen the Royals’ last win the Series.  Twenty-three other teams have made it to the World Series in that time, including four (Rays, Diamondbacks, Marlins and Rockies) that didn’t even exist in 1985.  The point is, it’s been awhile.

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So when there is a lot of rumblings that “The Yankees need to be more like the Royals,” I have to disagree.  Since 1985, the Yankees have made the playoffs 17 times, went to the World Series 7 times and won 5 titles.  Obviously, the Yankees have had a ton more success over the last three decades than the Royals, but that’s not what those who want the Yankees to be like the Royals are stating.

They are saying the Yankees need to develop players through the draft and stop relying on free agents to construct their rosters.  They say it’s the cheapest and best way to put together a great team.  And they are right, but they don’t account for the cost to do so.  It’s not an easy thing to do, if it was, everyone would do it.  A third of all first round draft picks, theoretically the best available players, never play an inning in the majors.  And the percentage of major leaguers and actually good major leaguers goes down with each successive pick.

The last time the Yankees had a top ten pick in the draft, they took Derek Jeter.  That pick worked out pretty well. The time before that, they took Brien Taylor.  That didn’t work out very well.  For the last two decades, the Yankees have drafted at the bottom of the first round or did not have a pick until the second round.  It is hard to develop great players when you don’t have access to top picks in the draft.

In order to get those high draft picks, a team needs to be terrible.  They need to lose a 100+ games.  The Yankees are not about to do that.  And when a team loses 100+ games, generally it is not a one-time thing.  This is not the NFL when a team can go 3-13 one season and 12-4 the next.  When a team is bad. they are usually bad for a number of seasons.  The Royals just went through 29 straight such seasons.

It is safe to say that the Yankees have had the better decade than the Royals.  The Yankees have made the playoffs 7 times in 10 years and won a World Series.  The Royals have had eight winning seasons since 1985, but they have made the most of it, making it to the Fall Classic.  But who has the edge going forward?  Who will have the better 10 years from now?

Mandatory Credit: Chad R. MacDonald.

Again this will likely be the Yankees.  As bad as the Yankees looked at times this season, they finished only 4 games out of the playoffs.  They have the makings of a very good young rotation starting with Masahiro Tanaka (25), Michael Pineda (25), Ivan Nova (27) and Shane Greene (25).  They had a terrific young bullpen in 2014 led by David Robertson (29), Adam Warren (27) and Dellin Betances (26).  Their farm system had a good year and is on the rebound.  Young prospects such as Luis Severino, John Ryan Murphy, Gary Sanchez, Rob Refsnyder, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge and Eric Jagielo could develop into impact players in the future and replace an aging lineup in the next few years.

Meanwhile, the Royals will likely lose ace James Shields this off-season.  They will need to lock up key players like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain soon or see their salaries sky rocket as they become arbitration-eligible. Hosmer made $3.4 million in his first year in arbitration, Moustakas and Cain are both eligible for the first time this off-season. In the minors, the once vaunted farm system has started to dry up.  While they still have a few big time prospects such as Raul Mondesi, Kyle Zimmer and Hunter Dozier there is not much behind them.

Then we come to biggest reason why the Yankees will be better off in the next ten years than the Royals: money.  The Yankees have more than they know what to do with and the Royals don’t.  Even with the austerity measures put in place the last few seasons, the Yankees still wield a tremendous financial advantage.  The Yankees can go out and get big time free agents, the Royals cannot.  And even worse for the Royals, the Yankees can afford to keep their best players (Robinson Cano not withstanding).

The salary crunch that will likely see many, if not most, of these World Series-bound Royals playing in a different uniform in the next five years is not a problem the Yankees have.  That’s why the Yankees will never do things the Royals way.  It is certainly harder and more expensive to acquire talent the Yankees way but, with the notable Cano exception, once the Yankees get their hands on talent, they don’t let go.