Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Hearing the Bell
2005-05-31 13:22
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Well, it's Buddy Bell in KC. I am Jack's complete lack of interest and/or surprise. Royals owner David Glass was adamant (registration required) that the team hire someone who had managed in the majors before, and he gets his wish. Of course, the teams Bell managed (Detroit 1996-98, Colorado 2000-02) were all bad. The Royals will neither benefit nor suffer from Bell's hiring. He merely gives them another retroactive excuse for their pathetic play besides the fact that they don't spend any money on players and their minor league development system is predicated on drafting players too young and promoting them too early.

Colorado and Kansas City are the two worst teams in the majors right now, but I see some hope for the Rockies that the Royals just don't have. Colorado has shown the potential for being at least a strong mid-market team, assuming they can first put a core of young players capable of finishing at least .500 together first. Were the Rockies ever to become a consistent contender, they have a whole untapped region to conquer. The Royals are stuck with a crummy TV contract and the much more alluring Cardinals, their competitive payroll, and their impending new stadium in the same state. Kansas City as a host for an MLB team has always been a shaky proposition. The Athletics didn't post a winning record their entire sojourn there (1955-67). The Royals had some great years in the late '70s and early '80s, but that was during an era of admitted collusion on the part of the owners to keep payrolls down.

You don't have to spend $200 million to make the playoffs. There is, however, a floor somewhere. The Devil Rays, the Royals, and possibly the Pirates are under it. The Brewers and the Blue Jays are toeing the line. The Rockies are not. Sensible signings, good drafting, and a canny trade here and there, and it's a new day for baseball in Denver. The Rockies kept Todd Helton, while the Royals had literally no chance at retaining Carlos Beltran. A new day isn't coming in Kansas City. Will it come in Portland or Las Vegas?

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