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The Big Advantage for Big Market Teams: Depth

It's not exactly a major newsflash, but there really are significant benefits of playing in a major market, with the capital to back up season objectives with substantial cash flow. When you're in New York, or Boston, or L.A. or Chicago, you can afford to miss on a player or two and still bring in a replacement (see: all the shortstops since Orlando Cabrera in Boston). That's not the case in places like Kansas City, where the Royals suddenly find themselves short of corner infield power due to an injury that comes at no fault to the team.

According to the Kansas City Star, Royals third baseman Alex Gordon, the man once compared with George Brett by practically every Kansas City fan with a pulse, had surgery on his injured right hip earlier today. Gordon was scheduled to be operated on by Marc Philippon, the man who performed Alex Rodriguez's surgery earlier this spring.

Gordon's injury -- a tear in his right hip labral cartilage -- isn't quite as severe as Rodriguez's, and it came on suddenly, when the third baseman slid into second base last Saturday.

Yet, for however long Gordon is out -- and, like Rodriguez, he could easily miss 6-9 weeks -- the Royals will have to patch up his spot in the infield and lineup with Mark Teahen, who was already in the starting lineup in the outfield. Teahen is a defensive downgrade from Gordon, and his outfield replacement, Mitch Maier (who will share time with Willy Bloomquist), is a downgrade from Teahen.

Put the moves together, and the Royals just lost some potential pop, particularly with Jose Guillen still on the disabled list awaiting a comeback of his own from a hip injury. That means the Royals, who needed everything to break their way to contend this year, are suddenly without their No. 3 and cleanup hitter for at least a couple of weeks.

The absence of Guillen was already being felt by Gordon, who struggled through a 2-22 start of the season with only one homer. Clearly, without Guillen's protection, Gordon was pressing and, in all likelihood, playing through hip pain at the same time.

Yet none of that can be comforting to the Royals, whose fans finally seemed to be encouraged that they could be in the mix for the first time in ages his year. It's now clear that's not going to happen without even more luck than Kansas City was already going to have to call in.

It just makes what Tampa Bay pulled off last year more impressive, doesn't it?

By Cameron Smith  |  April 17, 2009; 4:57 PM ET
Categories:  Royals  
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It just requires the ability to draft, develop and trade that much more important. The Rays were able to do what they did because of solid young talent and some players down in the minors who were able to come up and hold down the fort (hello David Price).

Teams like Boston and the Yankees can afford to have depth on their bench in terms of veteran MLB talent. Teams like the Rays and Royals have to have depth in their system in terms of young talent that then has to perform.

So in answer to your question, yes what the Rays did was very impressive.

Posted by: adampschroeder | April 18, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

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