Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced today that not only were the Houston Astros officially moving from the National League to the American League, but that baseball would also be adding two playoff spots in the process. This means that there will be two wild card teams entering the playoffs starting with the 2013 season. This means good news for a team like the Kansas City Royals perhaps more than any other.
The Royals have been built with an eye on being competitive beginning in 2012 but really pushing toward a window that opens in 2013. The first wave of prospects began to land this year as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and others began to lay claim to their starting spots on the roster. Still, there are several more prospects to land -- from Mike Montgomery to Will Myers to Lorenzo Cain -- and the 2012 season will bring a new group onto the major league team.
Thus 2013 is when many of those prospects will begin to develop into impact players on the ML club as well as sift out who isn't making the transition to the highest level. By that season, Hosmer, Johnny Giavotella and others will be third year veterans and the Royals will also be able to make the right free agent moves by that time to provide the proper accoutrements to the overall roster as needed. In short, Dayton Moore will know what works and what doesn't and will have enough in-house talent and, hopefully, the money to make the moves needed to become and stay competitive.
This third wild-card slot will allow the Royals some wiggle room as they become a better team -- to be able to make the playoffs even if they can't climb the highest of mountains to the top of the division. In turn, even if the team makes the playoffs but loses early, it will provide post-season experience to a team that is just now getting started. In other words, the Royals franchise should be ecstatic knowing the post-season in more in reach now than ever before.