The Cleveland Fan on Facebook

The Cleveland Fan on Twitter
Indians Indians Archive Indians-Royals: A Tale of Two Blueprints
Written by Andrew Clayman

Andrew Clayman

royalsindians-blueprintWith team payrolls ranking 26th and 30th respectively, the Indians (11-4) and Royals (10-5) will meet this week for a series that’s abruptly evolved from a meaningless cellar scrum to a small market survival guide. Together, the two clubs have already frightened and confused national prognosticators by transforming the once stable AL Central Division into a “topsy-turvy, bizarroland of insanity,” or something along those lines. And while the food chain may realign itself in due time, KC and Cleveland have already succeeded in one critical respect. They’ve injected some optimism back into two beleaguered fan bases. Question is, how’d they get here?

First things first. I refuse to use the phrase, “it’s still early, but…” except in cases where I’m referring to my refusal to use the phrase. Of course it’s early. Of course it’s possible-- if not highly likely-- that neither the Indians nor the Royals will be within sniffing distance of first place come June. For the time being, however, let’s consider this week’s four-game series at Kauffman Stadium as a fascinating examination of two franchises with recent histories more akin to building contractors than baseball teams. Since the year 2000, Kansas City and Cleveland have a combined 5 winning seasons and 2 playoff appearances (the Indians in 2001 and 2007). The Royals haven’t played a postseason game since they won the World Series in 1985. In recent years, the clubs have rebuilt, demolished, and rebuilt again—developing and dealing three Cy Young winners (C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Zach Greinke) and a number of all-stars (Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, Victor Martinez, etc. etc.).

Back in 2003, Tony Pena’s Royals got out of the gate in April at 12-3 after 15 games. A year earlier, Charlie Manuel’s Tribe started 11-4. Both teams wound up finishing in third place in the Central (KC at 83-79, Cleveland at 74-88). So, yes, April can be a deceitful little bastard of a month. But it ain’t always smoke and mirrors. The Indians were introducing a new core of young players that would eventually carry the team back into contention from 2005 to 2007. The Royals, meanwhile, were enjoying their last desperate drive before an inevitable free agent freefall (Beltran and several other key players were gone by 2004). By the time 2008 rolled around, both clubs were back at square one yet again, forced to rely on savvy drafting and multiple rolls of the dice to counteract the rapidly accelerating gap between the game’s haves and have-nots.

Which brings us up to the present, with the latest rebuilding efforts of Royals GM Dayton Moore and Tribe GMs Mark Shapiro / Chris Antonetti starting to take on the appearance of actual, inhabitable structures—as opposed to straw shacks. To arrive at the same point, however, the two clubs did not follow quite the same blueprint. Yes, Cy Young pitchers were dealt, bundles of prospects were brought in, and veteran, bargain free agents were signed. But when it comes to how the two teams built their current core of “keepers” (to borrow a roto term), the differences are clear. Here’s a hint: It’s the draft, stupid.

Impressively, Kansas City has FOUR of its own recent first round picks currently playing major roles on the 2011 squad: Billy Butler (2004), Alex Gordon (2005), Luke Hochevar (2006), and Aaron Crow (2009). When you consider that their #1 picks from 2007 (Mike Moustakas) and 2008 (Eric Hosmer) are also among the top 10 rated prospects by Baseball America in 2011, the Royals draft success looks all the more remarkable.

By contrast, the Indians have precisely ZERO of their past #1 draft picks on the active roster. In fact, among Cleveland's position players (starters and reserves), not a single man was actually drafted by the Tribe-- in any round. As for the pitching staff, Fausto Carmona and Rafael Perez were both amateur free agent signings, leaving only Josh Tomlin (selected in Round 19 in 2006), Tony Sipp (Round 45, 2004) and My Cousin Vinnie Pestano (Round 20, 2006) as original Cleveland draft selections currently on the squad. Every one else on this year’s club was brought in via trade or free agency. And while names like Lonnie Chisenhall and Drew Pomeranz may soon turn the tide for the Tribe’s first round draft debacles, the names of Beau Mills (2007), Trevor Crowe (2005), Jeremy Sowers (2004), Michael Aubrey (2003), Brad Snyder (2003), and Dan Denham (2001) paint a mighty illuminating picture as to why this franchise hasn’t been able to sustain any prolonged runs in the 21st century.

For a bit more clarity (or to muddy up the waters, depending on your perspective), here’s a position-by-position breakdown of how the Indians and Royals gradually constructed their primary rosters for the 2011 season.

wahoo-logo2royals-logo2Indians vs Royals:

Position By Position Acquisition Comparison


santana37kendall37Carlos Santana (age: 25) vs Jason Kendall (36)

$416,600 vs $3,750,000

Casey Blake Trade, 2008  ////  Free Agent, 2009

First Base

laporta37kila37Matt LaPorta (26) vs. Kila Ka’aihue (27)

$431,400 vs. $419,000

Sabathia Trade, 2008 ///// Round 15, 2002 Draft

Second Base

ocab37getz37Orlando Cabrera (36) vs. Chris Getz (27)

$1,000,000 vs. $443,000

Free Agent, 2011 //////  Mark Teahen Trade, 2009


acab37escobar37Asdrubal Cabrera (25) vs. Alcides Escobar (24)

$2,025,000 vs $428,000

Edurado Perez Trade, 2006 //////  Zack Greinke Trade, 2010

Third Base

donald37aviles37Jason Donald (26) vs. Mike Aviles (30)

$423,200 vs. $640,000

Cliff Lee Trade, 2009 ////////  Round 7, 2003 Draft

Left Field

brantley37gordon37Michael Brantley (24) vs. Alex Gordon (27)

$421,800 vs. $1,400,000

Sabathia Trade, 2008 /////// Round 1, 2005 Draft

Center Field

sizemore37mcab37Grady Sizemore (28) vs. Melky Cabrera (26)

$7,666,666 vs. $1,250,000

Bart Colon Trade, 2002 //////  Free Agent, 2010

Right Field

choo37franc37Shin-Soo Choo (28) vs. Jeff Francoeur (27)

$3,975,000 vs $2,500,000

Ben Broussard Trade, 2006 //////  Free Agent, 2010

Designated Hitter

hafner37butler37Travis Hafner (34) vs. Billy Butler (24)

$13,000,000 vs. $3,500,000

Einar Diaz/Ryan Drese Trade, 2002 ///////  Round 1, 2004 Draft


Starting Pitchers

carmona37hochevar37Fausto Carmona (27) vs. Luke Hochevar (27)

$6,287,500 vs. $1,760,000

Amateur FA, 2000 ///////  Round 1, 2006 Draft


carrasco37francis37Carlos Carrasco (24) vs. Jeff Francis (30)

$415,800 vs. $2,000,000

Cliff Lee Trade, 2009 /////  Free Agent 2011


masterson37davies37Justin Masterson (26) vs. Kyle Davies (27)

$468,400 vs. $3,200,000

Victor Martinez Trade, 2009 /////  Octavio Dotel Trade, 2007


tomlin37chen37Josh Tomlin (26) vs. Bruce Chen (33)

$417,200 vs. $2,000,000

Round 19, 2006 Draft /////  Free Agent, 2009


talbot37osullivan37Mitch Talbot (27) vs. Sean O’Sullivan (23)

$431,700 vs. $420,500

Kelly Shoppach Trade, 2009 ///////  Alberto Callaspo Trade, 2010



cperez37soria37Chris Perez (25) vs. Joakim Soria (26)

$2,225,000 vs. $4,000,000

Mark DeRosa Trade, 2009 ///////  Rule 5 Draft, 2006


sipp37crow37Tony Sipp (27) vs. Aaron Crow (24)

$436,800 vs. $1,400,000

Round 45, 2004 Draft ////////  Round 1, 2009 Draft


rperez37jeffress37Rafael Perez (28) vs. Jeremy Jeffress (23)

$1,330,000 vs. $414,500

Amateur FA, 2002 /////////  Zack Greinke Trade, 2010


Average Player Salary (from USA Today)

Indians: $1,640,000 //////  Royals: $1,338,000


Indians: $484,200 /////// Royals: $850,000

Average Age of Players Above

Indians: 27.2 ////// Royals: 27.1

Players (from above) Acquired Via Amateur Signing or Draft:

Indians: 4 /////// Royals: 6

Players (from above) Acquired Via Trade

Indians: 12 /////// Royals: 5

Players (at all levels) Currently Ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects

Indians: 4 /////// Royals: 9

Central Division: Homegrown Players as Current Core Contributors

Minnesota Twins: 10 (Mauer, Morneau, Valencia, Span, Kubel, Cuddyer, Duensing, Baker, Blackburn, Perkins)
Detroit Tigers: 7 (Avila, Rhymes, Inge, Raburn, Boesch, Verlander, Porcello)
Kansas City Royals: 6 (Butler, Gordon, Hochevar, Crow, Aviles, Ka'aihue)
Chicago White Sox: 5 (Beckham, A. Ramirez, Morel, Buerhle, Sale)
Cleveland Indians: 4 (Carmona, Tomlin, R. Perez, Sipp)

So, are we looking at two paths to the same destination (a pennant race)? Or are these two teams still a couple years away from seeing their efforts truly pay off? Is the Royals’ fantastic draft success finally going to lift them back to their Brett-era glory? Did Shapiro and Co. manage to clean up the mess of their draft failures by trading away the old core for a new one? Well, it’s still early, but…

The TCF Forums