We have all been embarrassed by our own family. Whether it’s an overzealous parent, a misbehaving kid, a drunken uncle, or a senile grandparent…we all know the feeling. It’s uncomfortable because we love our family and we understand them better than anyone. It’s also uncomfortable because it usually happens in public, in front of people that don’t love or understand the offending party. That’s exactly how I’ve felt on Twitter the past 24 hours.
I get it, I really do. Wil Myers is going to be Dale Murphy, at least. Just like Alex Gordon was George Brett (I wrote that), Eric Hosmer was Albert Pujols (me again), and Luke Hochevar was a right handed Tom Glavine (okay, no one really said that). Baseball loves prospects and nowhere is that more true than in Kansas City. There are several reasons for that, not the least of which is the fact that prospects are seemingly all we ever have.
Another reason is that we have an incredible network of bloggers in this town that have a great grasp on talent evaluation and advanced metrics. This reason gets overlooked because for the most part these bloggers are looked down upon. They’re seen as cynical, all-knowing nerds that eat pop tarts in their parent’s basement. I’m obviously not in the business of disparaging bloggers, and I love reading what they write. I truly believe we have one of the most knowledgeable networks of baseball bloggers in MLB. That being said, their reaction to the Kansas City Royals’ trade for James Shields has been embarrassing.
For 25 years now we’ve watched and bemoaned the fact that the Royals are always on the opposite side of this trade. Even as recently as two years ago we were trading away Zack Greinke for a wheel barrow full of prospects and jokes about this franchise as a farm club for the rest of MLB remained alive and well. Well, that farm club has been extremely productive recently and we find ourselves with an abundance of position players with potential and nary a pitcher.
The obvious answer in a small market like Kansas City is to turn those prospects into the missing piece(s) for your ball club. Dayton Moore did just that…and he’s being crucified for it. Now I know my community of bloggers and I know that they value being right more than just about anything else. The whole pursuit of advanced statistics is just a pursuit to see who can find the truest “right”. Unfortunately, Dayton Moore has been wrong so many times that in second guessing him, we now always think we’re right. Here are the three main arguments, and my problems with them.
James Shields is not an ace. This is the one that’s gotten me most fired up this week, but it’s also the easiest to debate. After all, what is an “ace”? There is no standard definition. You could say that it’s the #1 starter for a major league team, but that would mean that Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar have both been aces. You could say that it’s an exclusive club of Cy Young winners I suppose, but that seems too stringent. I don’t really care how you choose to define it, Shields is an ace. John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press thinks so. So does Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports. Whether he fits your definition of ace or not, there’s no denying he’s one of the 20 best pitchers in baseball, meaning for the first time since Greinke left our ace would also be an ace on several other teams.
We gave up too much. Wil Myers may be a Hall of Famer…but the odds are against it. Jake Odorizzi may turn into James Shields, but no one is predicting that. The Rays are going to fix Mike Montgomery…well we sure couldn’t. The fact that all of these things are still possibilities is precisely because none of these players have done anything at the major league level. We may one day come to find that we did give too much, but it’s ridiculous to presume you know that now. How many times have we been on the flip side of this? How many times have we complained that we’re always giving up something real for something hoped for? We got the real side this time guys, get excited!
We can’t compete with the Tigers even after this move. This may be the most reasonable of the arguments, but it still irks me. If you truly believe this (of course I don’t) then nothing Dayton Moore does matters. The Royals weren’t going to compete with Wil Myers, no matter how awesome he is, and the current pitching staff. Jake Odorizzi could have maybe been a #3 starter, Mike Montgomery was going nowhere fast in this organization. I’ve heard several say we should have picked up Anibal Sanchez and kept Myers. That works except Sanchez is MUCH more expensive, may not even want to play in KC, and IS NOWHERE CLOSE TO THE PITCHER JAMES SHIELDS IS!
The fact is we gave up a lot of potential for two starting pitchers. One of those starting pitchers ranks ninth in WAR over the last two seasons (slightly ahead of Zack Greinke) and struck out 15 batters while walking NONE in the last game he started. This same pitcher has postseason experience, eats up innings like Prince Fielder eats bratwursts, and seems genuinely happy to be a Royal. We also go a guy that just turned 27 that is markedly better than Luke Hochevar will ever be.
The other fact is we reacted as if Dayton Moore had just traded Ed Hearn for David Cone. While some national pundits are praising Moore for taking a chance…While baseball executives are saying they liked the deal for the Royals…we threw a hissy fit for everyone to see. We diminished Shields’ possible impact to the point of saying that Wil Myers would have made as much of an impact as Shields will….in 2013!
I’ve often said that Kansas City is a great baseball town, and that if we built a winner we would support them as well as any city in America. Well, David Glass has spent the money. Dayton Moore has put his job on the line. Are we going to sit around and complain about losing a prospect or get excited about our new ace? There’s been plenty of time to complain and second guess. We’ve been right plenty of those times too. Now it’s time to support our new pitcher, support our new contender, and go win a damn division!