Tag Archive | "Patrick Leonard"

Early returns on the Shields trade

This off-season, the Royals wanted to shake things up and they were willing to ship off their top prospect to do so.

JamesShields3

Desperate for proven Major League pitching, Kansas City swung a deal for two quality big league arms. On December 9 of last year, the Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays agreed on a deal that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City in exchange for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard.

Shields and Davis immediately earned a spot in this year’s Royals starting rotation–Shields as the ace and Davis as the third/fourth starter.

Meanwhile, all four players acquired by Tampa Bay would start the 2013 season in the minors.

For Kansas City, this was a win-now move. They believed they had the talent to compete in the AL Central this year and some reliable starting pitching could put them over the top. The Rays, on the other hand, had enough starting pitching and talent on the big league team that they could let the four players acquired in the deal develop in the minors.

It is never too early to examine a big trade like this so let’s dig in and examine how the trade has worked out so far for both teams.

The Royals Righties

Shields has pitched like an ace, though he doesn’t have the record to show for it. After 11 starts, the big right-hander is 2-6 with a sparkling 2.96 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. The Royals haven’t scored many runs for Shields, giving him only 3.39 runs per start and the team is just 3-8 overall in his starts.

On Monday, against a good Cardinals lineup, Shields gave up six runs over six innings, the first time all season he allowed more than four runs.

His numbers this season are consistent with those he compiled in Tampa Bay and his H/9, K/9, HR/9, ERA and WHIP are all better this year than the seven he spent with the Rays.

The only glaring difference is the win-loss record. In seven years with the Rays, Shields pitched to an 87-73 record. The Rays were a much more competitive team than the Royals are this year. As a means of comparison, the Rays gave Shields 4.57 runs of support per game in 2012.

Wade Davis has struggled so far this year, with a 5.71 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP. His record is 3-4 and the Royals are 6-4 in his starts. His numbers are considerably worse than Shields’, yet he has one more win, largely because he is backed by 5.22 runs per game from the offense.

Davis’ numbers are cause for concern for Royals’ fans. As compared to his four years with the Rays, his hits/9 innings has jumped from 8.6 to 12.6. His HR/9 and BB/9 have also increased considerably and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is significantly lower.

Struggling with his control, Davis has walked at least two batters in his last seven starts.

The Rays’ Haul

Wil Myers, the #4 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America, is starting to heat up at Triple-A Durham.

Myers started off the season relatively slowly, but in his past six games he is sporting a .393 average with 5 homeruns, 15 RBI, and a crazy 1.034 slugging percentage.

On Tuesday, Myers blasted two two-run homers, to help the Durham Bulls to a come-from behind win.

Overall, the highly-touted outfielder has a .266 average with 9 HR, 40 RBI and a .346 OBP and .473 slugging percentage.

Given his recent power surge, he may get a call-up from the Rays as soon as the Super Two deadline passes in mid-June.

Jake Odorizzi was recently promoted to the MLB club by the Rays. He started two games and ended up with two no-decisions.

On May 20 against Toronto, Odorizzi pitched five innings, allowing three runs and recording six strikeouts. On Monday against Miami he had a rougher outing, lasting only four innings, giving up six runs while striking out two.

The Rays sent Odorizzi back down to the minors on Wednesday. At Triple-A Durham, Odorizzi, Baseball America’s #92 prospect, has a 4-0 record with an ERA of 3.83 in eight starts. He has 47 strikeouts in 44.2 innings.

Mike Montgomery, a first-round pick by the Royals in the 2008 draft, has battled injuries early this season and, as a result, has made only three starts for Durham. The talented southpaw is 1-0 with a 5.27 ERA in 13.2 innings.
Patrick Leonard currently plays for the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest League. The infielder is batting .174 with just one homerun and 15 RBI in 43 games.

The Aftermath

There is no question that the Royals gave up an incredible amount of talent in this deal. Myers is one of the top hitting prospects in baseball. Odorizzi and Montgomery have considerable upside, which has left the Rays stacked with young pitching.

The Royals on the other hand are really struggling. The thinking was that the infusion of starting pitching would turn around a middling franchise. They expected the overhauled pitching staff to produce results immediately. They felt the AL Central or one of the two Wild Card spots was there for the taking. However, that optimism has quickly taken a turn for the worse. Kansas City is now 21-29 and has lost eight straight games.

It is still early in the season and things can quickly change for better or worse. The real effects of this trade may not sort out until a couple of years down the line. But the Royals believed this trade would bring instant results and, at this point, that just hasn’t been the case.

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I come to praise the Shields-Davis trade, not to bury it

If there’s a fan base pessimistic about everything, it’s the Kansas City Royals fan base. Not being in the playoffs since 1985 and not having a winning season since 2003 does that to you. And with all the other misfortunes the Royals experienced over the years, you can’t blame fans for being pessimistic.

Shields and Davis

So when the Royals traded top prospect Wil Myers, pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery and infielder Patrick Leonard for Tampa Rays starters James Shields and Wade Davis, a lot of Royals fans, bloggers and pundits panned the trade. They claimed the Royals gave up too many prospects and traded potential long-term success for short-term gain. They believed the trade smacked of desperation, a cynical move by General Manager Dayton Moore to try to keep his job.

But what were the Royals supposed to do? Look, the Rays weren’t about to give up David Price or Jeremy Hellickson for Myers, Odorizzi, Montgomery and Leonard. And I doubt adding someone like Eric Hosmer and/or Billy Butler to the deal would change things. The Rays aren’t rebuilding and they have no reason to give up Price and Hellickson. The Rays had room to give up Shields and Davis and still keep their strong, young, starting rotation.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed the Royals gave up Odorizzi. But Odorizzi projects as a number three or four starter, like Davis. And Davis has four years of Major League experience and is a free agent until 2016. If Davis works out as a starter, he could be the key success to the trade. And if he doesn’t fare well as a starter, he can go to the bullpen, where he succeeded with the Rays in 2012.

Making Montgomery a part of the trade made sense. This is the guy some thought would be a part of the Royals 2012 rotation. Instead, Montgomery ended up in AA Northwest Arkansas and struggled there. It’s likely he wouldn’t be with the Royals anytime soon and a change of scenery might do him some good.

The Royals only get two years of Shields, but if he pitches as expected, the Royals have an ace they haven’t had since Zack Greinke. If you’re into statistics, Baseball Reference says Greinke is statistically similar to Shields, who’s going to make $9MM in 2013. Greinke will make $19MM in 2013.

Heck, the Royals will pay Ervin Santana $12MM in 2013 and he’s projected as the number two or three starter. Looking at it that way, Shields is a bargain, even if the Royals pick up Shield’s $12MM 2014 option. If the Royals do well in 2013 and 2014, perhaps Shields signs a multi-year deal with the team. It could happen.

And think about what the Royals didn’t have to give up. Players like Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and pitching prospects Kyle Zimmer and Yornado Ventura. The Major League team is still intact and when Duffy and Paulino return, they will be a part of the starting rotation.

But what about Jeff Francoeur? Yes, he had a terrible 2012 and it might be a stretch if he crawls back to being league average next year. But even if Myers stayed with the Royals, it’s likely he wouldn’t be on the Opening Day roster. Despite what some think, the Royals needed front line starting pitching over a right fielder like Myers. And if worse comes to worst, there’s always David Lough or Jarrod Dyson, right? And by the time Francoeur leaves, there’s a chance Bubba Starling will take his place.

Sure, the Royals could have gone the free agent route and got a Anibal Sanchez, Shaun Marcum or Ryan Dempster. But would the Royals sign them for $9MM a year like they got Shields? And honestly, Shields is a better pitcher than Sanchez, Marcum or Dempster. If anything, the Royals might have been better off trying to sign Sanchez, Marcum and Dempster over Santana or Guthrie.

It’s true losing prospects like Myers, Odorizzi, Montgomery and Leonard hurts, but remember, they’re prospects, not proven Major League commodities. Of course, Shields could blow out his elbow and Davis might be the second coming of Luke Hochevar. But baseball is a game of risk and the Royals aren’t going to win by playing it safe and relying solely on their prospects.

Remember all the bold moves the Detroit Tigers took last year? They made it to the World Series. Sure, it’s a long shot the Royals will be in the World Series next year, especially with the Tigers in the division. But the Royals have to make bold moves if they want to succeed.

And don’t forget this trade brings the Royals payroll up to $80MM. Love him or hate him, David Glass is spending money and Dayton Moore is making an effort to improve the team.

It won’t take long to see if this trade works out for the Royals. If it blows up, Moore will be gone and the team could be wandering in the baseball wilderness for several more years. But if it succeeds, it could be the start of a new era of winning baseball for the Kansas City Royals.

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Royals Add Shields, Davis Trading Myers, Odorizzi

KANSAS CITY, MO (December 9, 2012) – The Kansas City Royals tonight acquired right-handed starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis and a player to be named or cash considerations from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor league outfielder Wil Myers, right-handed pitcher Jake Odorizzi, left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard.

Shields, who will turn 31 on December 20, has established himself as one of the premier pitchers in the American League. He followed up an All-Star campaign in 2011, in which posted a 16-12 record with a 2.82 ERA and finished third in the A.L. Cy Young voting, by posting a 15-10 record with a 3.52 ERA in 33 starts with Tampa Bay last season. In 227.2 innings, Shields allowed 208 hits, walked 58 and struck out 223, just two shy of his career best set in 2011 and the third-most in the league. Shields is joined by the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Tigers’ Justin Verlander as the only four pitchers in baseball to record at least 220 strikeouts in the last two seasons.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander has compiled an 87-73 career record with a 3.89 ERA in 218 games (217 starts) all for the Rays since making his debut in 2006. Since tossing 124.2 innings in 21 starts during his rookie campaign, Shields has won at least 11 games, made at least 31 starts and topped the 200-inning mark in six straight seasons. He joins the Jays’ Mark Buehrle, the Giants’ Matt Cain, the Yankees’ CC Sabathia and Verlander as the only five pitchers in baseball to post at least 200 innings in six straight seasons. In 2011, his 11 complete games were the most by a Major League pitcher since Arizona’s Randy Johnson had 12 in 1999.

Shields and his wife, Ryane, reside in Clearwater, Fla., with their two daughters. The couple is active with a number of charities specifically geared toward foster children and James was the Rays recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The 27-year-old Davis made a combined 64 starts for the Rays from 2009 to 2011 before pitching exclusively in the bullpen for Tampa Bay in 2012. He went 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA last season, allowing 48 hits and 29 walks with 87 strikeouts in 70.1 innings. The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder made 29 starts in both 2010 and 2011 and finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting after posting a 12-10 record with a 4.07 ERA in 2010. Davis is 28-22 with a 3.94 ERA in 118 career outings, including 64 starts. He is 25-22 in his career as a starter with a 4.22 ERA, including an 8-2 mark with a 3.38 ERA in 30 games (18 starts) against A.L. Central foes.

Davis and his wife, Katelyn, reside in Lake Wales, Fla. Davis organized the Full Count Foundation to help children who are at risk or have special needs or chronic illnesses.

Myers, who will turn 22 on December 10, was the 2012 Baseball America, USA Today and Topps Minor League Baseball Player of the Year after hitting a combined .314 with 37 home runs and 109 RBI in 134 games for Northwest Arkansas (AA) and Omaha (AAA). He was the Royals’ third round selection in the 2009 June Free Agent Draft.

The 22-year-old Odorizzi went 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 26 outings (25 starts) for Northwest Arkansas and Omaha in 2012 before making two starts for the Royals in September, going 0-1. He was acquired by Kansas City in a six-player trade with the Milwaukee Brewers on December 19, 2012.

Montgomery, 23, split his season between Omaha and Northwest Arkansas, posting a 5-12

record with a 6.07 ERA in 27 starts. He was the Royals’ supplemental first round selection (36 th

overall) in 2008.

The 20-year-old Leonard batted .251 with 14 home runs and 46 RBI in 62 games for Burlington (R) in 2012. He was the club’s fifth-round pick in the 2011 Draft.

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