By In Stuff

A Desperate Grab for Hope

It goes without saying that in pure baseball terms, I despise the Royals’ trade of late Sunday night. Despise. Deplore. Deride. Disapprove. If there were a Royals Tradebook Page, I would click the “dislike” button at least 10,000 times. The Royals traded their No. 1 prospect (and one of the best hitting prospects in the game), their No. 5 prospect, PLUS last year’s No. 1 prospect, PLUS a fourth semi-prospect (because the other three apparently weren’t enough) to Tampa Bay for a 31-year-old pitcher with a whole lot of innings and a very shaky road record and a 27-year-old pitcher who was demoted to the bullpen. I’d say 10,000 dislikes might not be enough.

But, for a moment, before delving deeper into the pile of dislikes, I think it’s important to consider what it is to be the Kansas City Royals heading into 2013.

There is a sports syndrome that, as far as I know, doesn’t have a name. You might call it “The Last 30 Seconds of SportsCenter” Syndrome. It’s something that fans in all sports in different part of the country feel at different times — probably the best way I can describe it is this: You just don’t feel part of the big leagues. I don’t mean that you’re depressed because your team is lousy; that’s a given. I mean that you’re depressed because nobody even knows your team exists.

There are many examples, but, for a moment, look at it through the Kansas City Royals’ eyes. Your team never wins. Your team never contends. Your team is never talked about. Your team is never involved in cool trade rumors and your team is never a bidder on the most expensive free agents. Your All-Star selection is always an afterthought, and your team’s best players are not known outside the city limits.

It’s bad enough to lose all the time, but it’s this constant reminder of your team’s irrelevance — always waiting until the end of SportsCenter to get your obligatory few seconds of highlights (usually focusing on the other team) — that makes being a Kansas City fan somewhat close to insufferable. You get this strong feeling that if the Royals abdicated from the major leagues, it would take the bulk of the country two and a half weeks to notice. Some would never notice.

All this provokes a different kind of hopelessness. The Royals have not made the postseason since 1985 — almost 30 years ago — but the truth is that only Royals fans care about this. There is no lovable loser Cubs thing going there. There is none of the pent-up angst and foreboding that, for so long, marked the Boston Red Sox. There is none of the “baseball is just a better game when the Dodgers are contending” emotion. There is not even the “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if the Pirates or Blue Jays or Orioles were good again,” sentiment.

Nobody except Royals fans seem to care if the Royals ever get good again. Ever.

Anyway, that’s certainly how it can begin to feel in Kansas City after a while.

And so, I fully understand why the Royals made this trade. It’s their barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world. It is their loud and uncompromising pronouncement that they have decided to win right now, this year, no more five-year plans, no more youth movements, no more veteran water-treading, no more shades of gray. This is it, right now, 2013, the Royals line up to win, to make the postseason, to be a World Series contender. There’s a new kids’ movie out now, “Rise of the Guardians,” and the major theme is that Jack Frost wants to be seen. That seems to be the force of this trade. The Royals, at last, want to be seen. They are pushing in all their chips.

Now, before getting into the obvious flaws in the plan … let’s talk for a second about how it could work for Kansas City.

The key player the Royals traded away, of course, is Wil Myers, who just turned 22 and who is one of the great hitting prospects in the game. Myers hit .314 with 37 homers in 134 games of Double-A and Triple-A baseball last year. He’s been a massive hitting prospect for the Royals for a while now. Myers was a mega-prospect coming out of high school in 2009, but he was asking for a $2 million deal and most teams just assumed he would go play ball at South Carolina. The Royals drafted him in the third round and then stunned a lot of people by giving Myers his asking price. He rewarded them by hitting .426 in 18 games of rookie ball, and the journey began.

The Royals’ farm system was loaded these last few years, and Myers sometimes got lost in the parade. But scouts said all the time: The guy’s a natural hitter. He doesn’t overthink it. He doesn’t get bogged down in the various mind games. See the ball. Hit the ball. Two years ago, he struggled, and there was some concern, but his massive 2012 season seemed to put all that to rest.

Or did it? Baseball people — and intense baseball fans — have always loved prospects. This has never been more true. Prospects are like backup quarterbacks. They are mysterious. They are promising. They are unlimited until they actually play. A friend asked me a fascinating question at the winter meetings. Alex Gordon is now one of the better players in baseball. People may not know that — there’s the syndrome again — but it’s true. Gordon gets on base, hits with extra-base power, steals an occasional base, plays great defense … there really aren’t too many players in the game who do as much. Gordon has posted a 6.2 and 7.1 WAR the last two years, the first Royals player in more than 30 years to post back-to-back seasons of 6.0 WAR or better. He’s excellent.

The question: When was Alex Gordon’s trade value at its peak?

1. Now, when he’s almost 29 and, after some low points, has proven to be one of the premier players in the game…

2. Or before the 2007 season, when he was widely viewed as the No. 1 prospect in baseball?

The answer, unquestionably, is 2007. There are intelligent reasons for this. In 2007, the Royals had him under their control for six years. They would have him cheap for three or four of those years at least. And, of course, he was quite a bit younger. But beyond that, Alex Gordon was still a riddle then. Now we know who he is — an All-Star caliber player who, one of these years, probably will hit .300, obee .400, with 30 home runs, 100 runs, 100 RBIs and 15 stolen bases, win a left field Gold Glove, and so on. But in 2007? He was limitless. He might hit FIFTY home runs, with 160 RBIs. He was a third baseman then. Maybe he was Chipper Jones! Maybe he was Eddie Mathews! Maybe — and yes, this was the big one — maybe he was George Brett!

The dream is always better than the reality — even when the reality is pretty darned good. Right now, Wil Myers could be anything. One scout told me that Myers (sacrilegious as this is) reminds him of Henry Aaron because of his quick wrists and amazing sense of hitting. But, he also could be Brandon Wood … or Ian Stewart … or Andy Marte … or Dallas McPherson … or Hee Seop Choi … or Ruben Mateo … or Ruben Rivera … or any number of other big-time, can’t miss hitting prospects who just never quite came together.

I remember when the Tigers traded a boatload of talented prospects — including the seemingly electrifying Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller — to Florida for Miggy Cabrera. It seemed like a somewhat even trade that might even lean toward Florida in the long run. Maybin was being compared by some to a young Ken Griffey Jr. Miller, a 6-foot-7 lefty with a breathtaking fastball, was supposed to be the first pick in the 2006 draft*. Cabrera was obviously the known commodity, but the promise of those young players made the deal very exciting for Florida.

*Until the aforementioned Royals inexplicably took Luke Hochevar instead.

And … Miller flamed out. Maybin never clicked. Others kicked around. Miggy won the Triple Crown.

So, can it work for the Royals? Sure. Myers looks like a future star now, but there are rumbles that the Royals are not quite as high on him as other teams, and they should know him best. Some scouts really like traded pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi — who, in the words of one scout, has “four pitches and an idea” — but others think that his fastball will settle in the high 80s and his other pitches are just OK, and he will have a Brian Bannister-like uphill challenge to succeed in the big leagues. Mike Montgomery, who was the Royals’ No. 1 prospect last year and in 2010, is actually a great example of why prospects are so fragile — he has pitched miserably for two seasons now. Maybe the Rays help him relocate his amazing talent. Maybe they don’t.

And for this, the Royals got the pitcher they craved, James Shields, who has thrown 200-plus innings in each of the last six years, who finished third in the Cy Young voting two years ago, who everybody loves as a leader and competitor, who gives the Royals their first legitimate Opening Day starter since Zack Greinke left town.* The Royals also got Wade Davis, whom the Rays put in the bullpen but whom some people think can be a strong middle-of-the rotation starter.

*The Royals’ Opening Day starters the last two years have been Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar. Really.

So, that’s how it could work. The Royals’ young offense scores runs, the Royals’ young bullpen shuts people down in the late innings, and the makeshift veteran rotation with James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar or Bruce Chen or somebody lead the Royals into contention in 2013 for the first time in a decade, maybe leads them into September contention for the first time in more than 20 years. It’s a longshot hope, maybe, but you don’t understand — for Kansas City fans, any faint sign of hope that the Royals are trying to win now, today, this minute, is a rose in the desert. The Royals have decided that it’s time — now or never time — and if they can finally win just a little bit, then the bulk of their fans will likely agree that this trade was worth it no matter how Will Myers and the others turn out. It’s been so long, too long, since the Royals have mattered. Now, maybe, possibly, conceivably, they will matter.

OK, that out of the way, let me tell you what you already know: Why this trade probably won’t work.

James Shields is 31 years old, and he’s started a lot of games, and he’s had the good fortune of pitching half his games in an extreme pitcher’s park. His home road split tell a story.

Home: 8-5, 3.25 ERA, 10 homers
Road: 7-5, 3.83 ERA, 15 homers

OK, that’s not too big a difference, right?

Home: 9-5, 2.36 ERA, 11 homers
Road: 7-7, 3.35 ERA, 15 homers

Well, that’s a run-per-game difference, but he was still good on the road.

Home: 5-7, 4.53 ERA, 14 homers
Road: 8-8, 5.82 ERA, 20 homers

Home: 6-6, 3.75 ERA, 11 homers
Road: 5-6, 5.62 ERA, 18 homers

Home: 9-2, 2.59 ERA, 9 homers
Road: 5-6, 4.82 ERA, 15 homers

OK, well, that’s getting pretty stark. Shields in all has been a good pitcher at home (48-21, 3.33 ERA) and a below-average pitcher on the road (39-42, 4.54 ERA). Many pitchers are better at home than on the road, but that’s a huge difference, and it’s no coincidence that Tampa Bay is a lousy hitter’s park. Shields has only made four starts at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, so it’s not enough to make any judgments on. That said, it would be better if he HAD NOT allowed 17 runs in the 24 innings he pitched there (6.38 ERA). And, remember, he allowed those against the Royals. Again, not enough info to go on. But it is his worst American League park.

He has also thrown a LOT of innings. He has thrown 1,330 innings from age 25 through 30. That doesn’t mean that he won’t be an effective pitcher the next couple of years — I looked at similar pitchers who threw a lot of innings in those years, and there are examples (Mike Boddicker, Mike Moore, Javier Vazquez, Kevin Brown) of right-handed bulldog pitchers who continued to pitch well or pitch even better at age 31 and 32. And there are examples (Russ Ortiz, Walt Terrell, Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez) of those who collapsed. It’s a mixed bag.

Point is, the Royals did not get a sure thing here — the way the Tigers did with Miggy. They got a pitcher they love for a lot of old-fashioned reasons — his competitiveness, his focus, his verve, his nickname (Big Game James!). These things might indeed matter. But these were also the reasons why the Royals acquired Jason Kendall.

And there’s another issue: The Royals were terrible in 2012. I mean they lost 90 games. They finished 12th in the league in runs scored. They finished 10th in the league in ERA. It’s nice, as a fan, to hope that it was just a speed bump, that some of the young players like Eric Hosmer (huge prospect who hit .232 in his second year) and Mike Moustakas (promising third baseman who hit .224 after May 15) and Lorenzo Cain (27-year-old center fielder) and Johnny Giavotella (24-year-old second baseman) and Salvy Perez (an American League Yadi Molina?) and others will flourish in 2013. But is that real? Is that a plan? Or is that just something we impetuous fans might think and respond? Was it really smart for the Royals to push in all their chips right now, possibly trading away the game’s next star, for the hope that a lot of things go right in 2013 and a bandaged-up rotation of motivated 30-somethings will lead Kansas City back into relevance?

Or is it plain and simple desperation?

The one unquestionable thing about this trade from a Royals fan perspective is this: They won’t have to wait five years to find out if it was a good one. If the Royals are 15 games back and wallowing in fourth place in July, it was an absolute disaster. And jobs will be lost.

OK, that’s about 2,400 words on the Royals’ side of the trade. Here are 38 for Tampa Bay fans: You got one of the game’s best prospects and three other potential prospects, for a 31-year-old starter who was only under team control for two more seasons, and a bullpen piece. Yeah, a good day’s work.

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85 Responses to A Desperate Grab for Hope

  1. Bill Reh says:

    Seriously, the first thing I thought of was “Oh goodness, I hope Joe’s OK”. Hang in there Poz, given enough monkeys/typewriters/years, your time will come.

  2. Mark Coale says:

    Thats similar to how EPL fans feel about the running order of Match of the Day. Where your teams highlights are placed is important to many people, esp fans of the smaller clubs who think that united or livrpool or chelsea always get the first slot.

  3. Logan says:

    And Jeff Francoeur retains his place as the Royals everyday right fielder. I think that might be the worst part of this trade.

  4. Joel Kallem says:

    Everything you say is true. However, as a long-time Royal fan, I am glad to see them step up and take a chance. You can wait for the future forever. At some point, you have to bite the bullet and put it on the line. Now is the time for them. The farm system is still strong and can produce “parts” to take the place of those traded. However, there is not a top of the rotation pitcher there that is available now.

    • Kansas City says:

      Very good point. Let’s hope it works.

    • simon says:

      Yeah, I agree. At some point you have to decide that this is the year that THIS group makes it, and go for it. If not, then the next time they make the playoffs will not be with Hosmer / Butler / Moustakas / Gordon / etc.

      As a Jays fan, I’m happy to see them take a calculated risk, even if the season flames out and we go another few years without a playoff trip.

  5. The thing that bothers me is that the difference between Shields/Davis and, say, Hochevar/Odorizzi might be made up almost 80% or more by the difference between Francoeur and Myers in RF. The team stunk offensively last year, and Myers is ready to play, most likely.

  6. Mark Daniel says:

    Aren’t the Pacific Coast League and Omaha (where Myers was) good places for hitters? B-ref has the PCL averaging 5.13 runs/g, compared to 4.3 r/g for the International league. Omaha averaged 5.53 r/g. And the highest scoring AA league was 4.47. That data is from 2012.
    Maybe nobody cares about that, but considering the variability in outcomes of hot prospects, as Joe mentioned, it should be taken into consideration.

  7. Brian says:

    To me, it’s not so much that they traded Wil Myers in order to go all in for 2013 (although if I were going all in for 2013, Wil Myers would be part of that). To me, it’s more that they only got James Shields in return. At a time when high-upside prospects are treated like gold, shouldn’t you be able to acquire something better than that? Wil Myers is someone that is universally loved by everyone who puts together top prospect lists. James Shields is universally…what, a number 2 starter in his 30’s whose best days are probably behind him? What are we missing here?

    • djangoz says:


      Going for it by trading away top prospects is fine. But what they got in return is not.

    • prophet says:

      Rumor has it that Beane turned down Anderson for Myers straight up. (That doesn’t sound like Beane, does it? Passing on a prospect for a pitcher returning from surgery? unless the pitcher is special and fully recovered, and/or Myers isn’t all that?) It is not clear if Dickey would have been available for Myers, but it seems likely. I presume that Moore started at Hellickson and Price and got bargained down.

      Anyway, it really looks like this is all Myers would fetch – 90% of James Shields. Nobody trades #1 starters unless they’re in a contract year and about to get Greinke money.

      That said, as a Tigers fan I think the Royals are better for 2013. I’m not worried about them contending until 5/7 of their young players improve on 2012, though, and that’s just not likely. Add … 5 wins for replacing dreck with Shields/Davis, and then 5 wins for fun. They still need 5 more wins to get to 87 and playoff contention, even in the Central.

      That also said, the most likely outcome is that all the prospects flame out (or become just a guy), Shields regresses a little bit and the trade fades quietly into history without even a whimper.

    • Kansas City says:

      We got Prohet worried. Here comes the Royals!!

      But his analysis is correct. Beane turning down Myers for Anderson really suggests the market for Myers was not that strong.

  8. George says:

    Could have gotten so much more. A trade with Atlanta for Minor and others. A trade with the Mets for Jon Niese. So, so sad.

    • Yamnitz says:

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Intrigueing comment about Minor and the Braves. But the way the Braves have things setup right now, they have bought into Minor for the long haul. They dumped Hanson and picked up Maholm’s option, so he’s a one year guy and same with Hudson (picked up his option & he’s got to be about done). No, Minor’s considered a top of the rotation guy by 2014, if not next year. They would more likely trade a pitching prospect, not Minor. He finally got his head straight last year and isn’t sweating giving up a run in the first, or a HR in the fifth. He’s learned to move on mentally and limit the damage. No, the Braves weren’t going to trade Minor…. althought the idea of some phenom prospect who plays 3rd or LF can be alluring.

  9. GregTamblyn says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. GregTamblyn says:

    The happiest guy in KC right now is Jeff Francoeur. Santa was very nice to Jeff.

  11. Dan Davis says:

    Yes, that’s the real issue. I don’t think too many people think the Royals are dumb because they want to be relevant again. It is a business after all. The main problem with this trade is that they should have got more and gave up less.

    If they wanted Shields so badly and really think Davis could be a solid starter, then they should have told Tampa that they need both for Myers, and not also given up three more prospects in the deal. Maybe Tampa would walk away, but even if they did, Myers is still a great trade chip, and it’s early December. Some other team would step up at some point. And I really doubt Tampa would really have walked away from Myers for Shields and Davis in the end.

    Since the Royals were willing to trade Myers AND three other prospects, then they should have been targeting a younger pitcher with more years of team control. Pitchers like that are really valuable, but so are potential hitters like Myers.

    I think that the Royals don’t believe Myers will actually be a star in the end, and so decided that this was the time to move him, when his value was probably going to be highest. Which is smart, and so is Going For It Now. But they really should have got more for him while giving up less. Throwing in the other prospects is what really makes it a bad deal. KC really should not be giving away pitching prospects, especially when they are already giving up Myers AND taking on more payroll in the deal.

  12. Kansas City says:

    Joe is great, but disagree with waiting until July. Has there ever been a more impressive recasting of a starting rotation in two months of off season? Don’t know if it will work, or even if starting pitching problem was the correct diagnosis, but a heck of a piece of work.

  13. Kansas City says:

    Yost is now on the spot. If the Royals get off to a bad start, he is gone and, in my opinion, the best move would be to persuade George Brett to come in to manage and see if he can bring some magic back with him.

    • Clashfan says:

      Has Brett ever managed before? Been a coach in the minor leagues? I know very little about the man, but I’m not convinced that a Hall of Fame career as a player *necessarily* means he’d be a good skipper.

    • Kansas City says:

      Managing is not brain surgery. Brett is smart. Charismatic. He knows the game. He would bring Quirk in as his bench coach, and Quirk has years of experience. Managers almost never make a difference, but it would be a move worth a shot with a young talented team.

  14. PL says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. PL says:

    I actually think the trade is fine if Myers isn’t in it and a lesser prospect is. Shields was getting expensive and now the Rays can use the money to boost the offense by signing Hafner, Youkilis or Berkman to DH/1B. I’d go with Youk and one of Hafner or Berkman because Youk can spell Longoria at 3B too. Regardless, they are a beast of a team now and are top to bottom the best team in the AL East.

    The bigger issue is with KC spending ridiculous money on terrible players like Francouer, Santana, Guthrie and Chen, when they should have gone all-in on Greinke. If they already had a legit ace like Greinke, then this deal makes things easier to swallow. Now if they can somehow get another Shields-esque pitcher they’ll be in better shape, but, there goes their #1 farm, and the Rays, who suffered the hardest at the removal of the draft-pick for type A/B FA loss, found yet another way to stack their already-great system.

    The Rays have the smartest front office in all of MLB, and it isn’t even remotely close.

  16. Bugaj says:

    A tale of two teams. They are both small spenders, but one knows what they’re doing and the other does not. Even if James Shields gets 15 wins for them this year, even if Myers flames out, Tampa is still making the move of a champion while Kansas City is making the move of a team that doesn’t know how to do anything other than acquire replacement-level or below-replacement-level players in their 30’s. This move injects life and hope into Tampa Bay, while it does little to increase the relevance of the worst team in baseball.

  17. Josharino says:

    Re: Home/Road splits:
    I think it’s worth noting to keep in mind where Sheilds was playing the bulk of his road games with Tampa Bay: NYY, Boston, Baltimore… His road games now will be in generally much more pitcher friendly parks (ChiSox Aside) against much more pitcher friendly lineups.

  18. csb669 says:

    And to think we gave the Tribe a hard time after they traded their two best pitching prospects for Ubaldo Jiminez…

  19. NMark W says:

    I never would have thought of that dinky dome in St. Pete as being a pitcher’s ballpark. God, I hate the look of that place. It must be rather depressing to have to play half your games in that tomb but it does beat playing in AAA. This is, hands down, the worst MLB ballpark, no? Even Oakland is outdoors, on grass and they have some passionate fans when they win.

    Wil Myers will exceed expectations in my opinion. Joe Maddon must be doing cartwheels this morning when he thinks about penciling in Myers to his everyday lineup card for many seasons to come. Sorry KC – this probably will turn out badly for the City of Fountains.

  20. This feels to me like the Royals cashing in a trust fund to go to a bad law school. Sure, it will work for some people, who will parlay that law degree into a big money job — but most people, it just leaves poorer, unhappier, and with a stain on the resume when it doesn’t pan out.

    As an Indians fan, I take solace in this trade, because I know the Indians and Royals will be competing for fourth place in the near future. I don’t have a problem with trading prospects for players, but when you’re a team like Kansas City (or Cleveland), they have to be difference-making kind of players, or you’ve replaced your only cause for optimism with Ubaldo Jimenez. I do believe that the road splits are overblown and Shields is a very good pitcher, a pitcher any team would love to have. But he’s not a Verlander/Sabathia/Cliff Lee/Roy Halladay pitcher you’d want to have at any price.

    The Royals’ rotation now has enough that they may be able to compete for a division title solely because of the awfulness of the division, especially if Duffy could come back by midseason. But that is it. If they got into the playoffs, they’d be the equivalent of the 2012 Orioles — they will be the underdog in every game because their pitching doesn’t match up and their offense is hardly amazing.

  21. Gary says:

    What’s interesting is that Rays fans are, by and large, very disappointed by this trade and think the Royals got the best end of it.

  22. Devon Young says:

    It seems that whatever good can be said about Dayton Moore’s ability to identify minor league talent, the complete opposite can be said about his ability to identify major league talent. He proves that over and over every year. That in itself, is why he can’t turn the Royals into a contender. He might be able to turn them into a pretender, but not a true contender.

  23. While not a huge fan of the trade, I will say, you can’t get something for nothing. Yes, we lost the top prospect, but no team was going to give us a quality starter for Jeff Francoeur. To say there were better options is really ridiculous. Outside of the teams involved, nobody knows how those talks went. This may have certainly been the best option available.

  24. Hoppin' John says:

    David Price’s road ERA was 1.31 higher than at home. That doesn’t fit the narrative, though.

  25. As a Jays fan I do hope the Royals can be relevant again. And I’d love to see the Royals in the playoffs, hopefully against the Jays — we’d really like to get some long-awaited revenge for 1985 (yes, Blue Jays fans of a certain age are still quite bitter about that series).

  26. Mark A says:

    One thing to remember … the Royals play in the Central. The difference between awful and playoffs is way closer than for teams in any other division.

  27. The problem I have with this trade is look back a year. We still had our promising youth movement – Hoss, Moose, Cain, Escobar, Gio.. and there were pitchers on the market better than those we acquired in Santana, Shields, Guthrie..

    What nobody is talking about is the Nationals who prior to the 2012 season acquired Gio and Edwin.. and prior to the 2013 season acquired Haren..

    The Royals could still have their prospects – other than Montgomery.. and have Gio, Edwin and Haren.. and guess what there was a possibility to be competitive some of 2012..

    (granted who knew that we would find 5 of our pitchers having Tommy John surgery)

    All this is, is DM realizing he made a HUGE mistake in 2011 and is now making an even LARGER one in 2012..

    It is time for him and Yost to move on..

  28. purebull says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. purebull says:

    so…shields first three years show him having road era’s that are well below average…but then…the last two years have him showing road era’s that are certainly better than major league average.

    kinda like, as he’s been in the league longer, he’s learned to pitch more effectively on the road than he did his first few years in the league.

    thanks for pointing this out via stats, joe. lots of folks probably didn’t realize this…

  30. P.M. Obley says:

    You’re saying Shields won’t work out because of how he pitched away from home earlier in his career? Illogical. Since when do you throw out the first the two most recent seasons in favor of the three years that came before them? Knock him for the age and mileage, for sure, but don’t barf up road splits from 2008 and 2009 and tell me they’re more relevant than 2011 and 2012

  31. P.M. Obley says:

    … And if they’re 15 games back in July, they’ll flip Shields for prospects.

  32. Luis says:

    Do you know what’s worse than being irrelevant the way the Royals are irrelevant? Being irrelevant the way the Twins became irrelevant over the last two seasons.

    Here you have a team that won the Division and went to the playoffs a bunch of times over the last decade, two MVP players, the batting-title winning catcher, an All-Star closer, and as soon as they stop winning there is zero, ZERO talk about them. No “what happened to the Twins?”, or “what a collapse of a winning franchise?”, or “Gardenhire needs to be fired! it’s got to be the manager’s fault!”. Nothing, nada. Doesn’t matter because they are irrelevant.

    So, to all Royals fans and Poz, being irrelevant because you don’t win is better than being irrelevant after winning for a bunch of years.

    As the saying goes: Be careful what you wish for, you may get it and find out it isn’t as good as you thought it’d be.

    • Tim Deveney says:

      I’ll take the winning, then irrelevance, rather than losing and irrelevant.

    • Chris Esch says:

      Are you kidding? We have had NOTHING over the past decade plus! NOTHING! The year you just “endured” is an AVERAGE year for the Royals! AVERAGE! This 72-win piece of garbage was actually the third best Royals’ season since 1999! Pos is right. People (even in our division) don’t realize just how bad it’s been.

  33. Zach says:

    I hate this deal. Hate, hate, hate.

    If you really squint, you can see the Royals’ angle on this. Shields has great peripherals, Davis might make the rotation, Myers and Odorizzi might struggle for a couple of years. But it seems to me that the Royals locked in a very negative view of Odorizzi and Myers in the structure of this trade. If they’re both worse than you can reasonably expect, the trade could work. If they both do about as well as expected, it’s a disaster. If one of them takes off, it’s the kind of story you use to scare children.

    Why would you make a deal that prices your players as though they’re going to fail? Whatever happened to finding a trade partner who likes your players *more* than you do?

  34. Gary says:

    It seems as if Joe and other Royals fans are not making exactly valid assessments of Shields. If I were a GM looking at acquiring Shields, I’d want to see how he stacks up against the teams in my division because those are the teams he’ll be facing the most. This looks pretty good for the Royals.

    Over the past two seasons, Shields has pitched on the road against Central Division teams seven times, and the Rays won six of those games, and in the one loss Shields allowed only two earned runs in six innings. In those parks he has allowed one hit per inning, has a strikeout to walk ratio of better than 2-to-1 and allowed six homers – but three of those came in one game in Chicago in 2011.

    At home against Central Division teams, he wasn’t quite as dominant. He pitched against six teams from that division at home and the Rays split them. He allowed 56 hits in 50 innings but had a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and allowed only two homers.

    Overall the past two seasons, Shields against Central teams threw 92 innings, allowed 97 hits, struck out 72 while walking 23 and allowed only seven homers in 13 starts. He pitched at least six innings in every start, and seven-plus innings in nine of the games.

    As for the “problems” Joe alludes to that Shields has had in Kansas City, he hasn’t pitched there since 2010. The game in 2010 was a 7-0 loss on one of the last games of the season. I think it’s fair to say that he’s probably a better pitcher now than he was then. He will be 31, but many pitchers have made the adjustments at that age and actually improved as pitchers.

    So will this trade pan out? Perhaps not, but I think the proper perspective of realizing that Shields will get a lot more starts against Central Division teams against whom he’s enjoyed success makes it looks a lot better for the Royals.

  35. Adam Wright says:

    Not sure which I would choose… But would you rather have Greinke, Myers, Montgomery and Leonard or Shields, Davis, Escobar, Cain and a player to be named later?

  36. Unknown says:

    “High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation.” -Jack Kinder
    Consider the Royals expectations to be high. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I had honest-to-goodness expectations for the Royals,let alone high ones.
    Dayton Moore, thank you for that.

  37. KHAZAD says:

    This trade made me throw up in my mouth. When I first heard the news, I was told Myers for Shields and Davis, and I was pretty iffy about it then. After I found out about Odirizzi and the rest as well, I was apoplectic.

    Myers is the reigning Minor League player of the year. The last 10 offensive players who won that title (through Gordon in 2006, as I needed 6 seasons of data) averaged 3207 plate appearances with a 122 OPS+ in the six seasons following the award. (This includes Rocco Baldelli and Delmon Young bringing that average down) This is not Myers upside, it is his expectation.

    There is an even chance that Odirizzi will perform at a level comparable or better than Davis over the next several years at a much lower salary.

    Add the two other prospects, the specter of Frenchy playing below replacement level in the outfield instead of Myers, and Shield’s splits, (Nothing against Shields as a player, he is a fine bulldog #2) and I am not entirely sure the Royals win this trade in 2013. The Rays would be favored to win the trade in 2014, and I would bet a paycheck that they win every year after that.

    This is the kind of trade that I could understand from a team that won 85 games or so and was making a push, but they won 72(!) last year and are making a trade that is a complete loss without a playoff trip this year. In order to do that, there would have to be some sort of perfect storm of epic proportions where pretty much every returning player improved form last year-which, if it was going to happen, would be just as beneficial with Myers in right.

    The sad part is, from a PR standpoint, this is working with the casual fan in KC. Desperate for anything, the radio airwaves are filled with people glad that the team is “Swinging for the fences” and “actually trying to win.” Swinging for the fences once in awhile is OK, doing it with your eyes closed is silly.

    There will be a spike in attendance next spring, the springtime illusion that the team can contend may last a little longer than usual.
    In the end, they will all pat themselves on the back for winning 80 games and continue to be irrelevant.

    • Chris says:

      Is it possible the Moore just got scared off by waiting around on prospects again? He seemed to be doing everything right at the minor league level to develop a low budget competitive franchise, but he hasn’t managed to hit on any of his guys. Two years ago our farm system was rated as the best in baseball with a solid mix of hitting and pitching. Now 2 years later not one of them has been a smashing success. Hosmer and Moustakas had decent rookie campaigns, but Hosmer fell off a cliff in year two and after a hot start Moustakas tailed off as well. None of their top pitchers have been any closer to the majors. Only Duffy managed to leap frog everyone just to end up sidelined with Tommy John.

      I just wonder if any one of these top prospects had come in and had a major impact, would Moore be so willing to part with Myers. We were supposed to be ready to compete in 2013/14 on the strength of that farm system, but it has all seemed to whither away.

    • Kansas City says:

      Good point that Moore has had no luck with prospects coming in and making an impact.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Prospects in baseball can be a real crapshoot, especially since many of the top rated players come out of High School. But you have to draft them, then you have to develop them, then you have to be patient with them for a couple of years while they learn to adjust to MLB pitching and life. Then you have to hope they don’t get injured and hope that the opposition doesn’t find a big hole in the players game that they exploit…. like the off the plate slider Francoeur can never layoff. If you get a shot at someone who’s already proved it, 7 times out of 10 you win. But when it goes the other way and the prospect hits, the trade is like Jim Fregosi for Nolan Ryan or Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz. Just hope that’s not the case.

  38. Kansas City says:

    Joe has a column up that is a great read for Royal fans:

    Here is the money quote from Baird that makes sense:

    “We think we still have a very good farm system. But what happens if we don’t make this Wil trade? You and I both know we don’t have enough pitching to contend. So what are we hoping to do? Win 79 games and take another small step forward, then face the same thing again next year? It’s time to try and start winning every year. We owe that to these players. We owe that to the fans of Kansas City.”

    The article gives us an explanation and some hope. The questoin is whether Moore is smart enough to put together the team in a way that can win. One problem is that Moore has been a lousy judge of big league position playes through his six years, e.g., Betancourt, Guillen, Jacobs, Francour, Kendall. He had been a good judge of minor league talent and probably an average judge of Major League pitchinng talent, good ones being Guthrie, Palido, Chen (maybe) and the guys in the bullpen.

    Some of his position player moves have been so dumb to question whether he is smart enough to be a GM. He now has a test. Anyone who follows Francoeur knows that his only place on a good team is limited to playing against left handed pitchers. His career OPS is 820 versus lefties (702 against righties). (In 2011, it was 934 versus 762.) If Moore fails to have a good lefted handed hitting corner outfielder on the team by the end of April (preferrably before Spring Training), he is not smart enough to be a GM and the Royals (absent very good luck) will never win with him in charge.

    He justed Willy Taveras to a minor league contract (647 OPS and 68 OPS+). Not a good sign.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Who are you thinking about as a lefthanded hitting corner outfielder? It’s not like the market is flush with affordable productive outfielders who are going to do much except fill a patch of grass in the outfield. Keep in mind that if you’re thinking platoon, any lefthanded hitter who’s put up decent numbers and is available is looking for a full time gig.

  39. Hmm, meh, it’ll be more depressing when they continue to be mediocre for the coming years. It’s a dumb move and getting on Sportscenter shouldn’t even matter, besides MNF ESPN is like the big news networks now.

  40. Kansas City says:

    Abreu as left handed bat to platoon with Frenchy? Could be 2013 version of Berkman 2011.

    • Rob Smith says:

      .698 OPS last year vs. righties. He’ll be 39 and is pretty much done. Try again.

    • Kansas City says:

      schumaker. realize just traded to Dodgers.

      You tell me.
      Abreu is probably done. But worth a look and the need for a left handed bat is essential. I actually thought Myers (ther other guy, not Wil) might have bene a serviceable option. Do the Royals still have him?

    • Kansas City says:

      Maiers signed with Boston. He has a caree OPS+ of 110 when starting against righties. Not much slug. OPS only 706 but OBP is 344. Frency is 95, with a 717 and 302. Interestingly, Frenchy’s OPS+ is 110 starting against lefties.

  41. A tale of two bull-dodgers in a face up battle..

  42. Rob Smith says:

    Shields is an interesting study. Looking into the Home and Away stats, he gives up roughly the same BA home or away, and is actually a little better on the road .238/.240. The issue seems to be that he gave up 15 road HRs vs 10 at home. That shouldn’t be too surprising seeing how his in division parks are Fenway, Yankee Statdium, Camden and Rogers. I think the more interesting thing is that his season was saved by a very strong August and September performance. The first four months were very mediocre. There aren’t many lockdown stoppers out there floating around, however, so I think he should be pretty solid in a mediocre division. Those who love Myers should possibly look at the fact that Francoeur was once Myers. “The Natural”. Probably a good trade, although Shields only has two years before he’s a FA.

  43. John Matthew says:

    Do you know what’s worse than being irreconcilable the way the Royals are irreconcilable?Options Trading

  44. The thing is, even though the home/road splits on Shields look bad, they were better the last 2 seasons. Also, even during the other years the road split wasn’t any worse (and in some cases better) than what the Royals throw out there most nights. Did they give up a lot? Yes, but that was the price of doing business. If the Royals wait around for a bargain, they will continue to lose 90+ games every year. Maybe they will still lose 90+, but at least they are trying to get better.

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  46. What’s interesting is that Rays fans are, by and large, very disappointed by this trade and think the Royals got the best end of it.


  47. […] When the trade was announced, the internet, to put it mildly, combusted. Reactions ranged from hating the deal for the Royals: “Rays win it with a first round knockout,” said Jim Bowden… to really hating the deal for the Royals: “This is why the last time the Royals won 90 games, Ken Griffey was a rookie,” tweeted Dave Cameron… to really, really hating the deal for the Royals: “If there was a Royals’ Tradebook Page, I would click the “dislike” button at least 10,000 times” wrote Joe Posnanski. […]

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