“We’re kind of set with what we have. We’re not a finished product by any means, but we’re staying focused on keeping our core group of players together. Our next step needs to be getting some of our young starting pitching to the major leagues.” - Dayton Moore
With Mission 2012 upon us, and contention seemingly looming, DM is apparently content with the current roster. In other words, Edwin Jackson isn't walking through that door. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because while their window may be cracked at the moment, it should be wide open next year. I don't know that Jackson or Roy Oswalt is enough of a difference maker to push KC over the hump and into the playoffs.
Not that they wouldn't be good pickups, it's just that the rest of the rotation is still full of question marks. For the Royals to be competitive the starting pitchers simply have to pitch more innings. Of course that's a no brainer but the facts speak for themselves. The fourteen teams that finished .500 or above had 33 pitchers toss 190+ innings, 2.35 per team. The sixteen teams that finished under .500 had just 24, 1.5 per team. You have to figure that two or three members of the Royals rotation have to exceed that amount this year, which could happen but seems unlikely when you consider that Hochevar, Sanchez, Chen, Paulino and Duffy have combined for just three such seasons in their careers.
I'd rather they see what those guys do this year and then adjust accordingly next winter when they can maybe land someone better than Jackson (Zack Greinke anyone? What?). Best case scenario is that Duffy and Montgomery make the leap to the front of the rotation while Hochevar and Paulino contribute as league average innings eaters. And then, of course, Chen continues to be Chen, because he's here for 2013 as well (for some reason).
When last season ended I was hoping DM would sign Jackson or trade for James Shields but now I've come around to the wisdom of waiting. I think the current rotation has just enough upside to surprise people and keep the team in the hunt into August or hopefully even September. But they also have enough downside to bury the team in May and finish with a record similar to last year. It really could go either way.