From what I've read and heard, if I didn't know any better, the Bible got it wrong and JC was actually JS -- James Shields.
Story after story after story heap nothing but praise upon Shields as Opening Day nears. (HE AND JEFF FRANCOEUR TRICKED TEAMMATES INTO GOLFING WITH EXPLODING GOLF BALLS! HILARIOUS! LOL!). Even ESPN's rebranded Baseball Tonight Podcast has touched on Shields and the impact of his leadership on the Royals and how much the Rays miss their would-be No. 4 starter. (If you do have some free time, I encourage you to go back and listen to last week's episodes. I think Thursday and Friday's episodes make mention of Wil Myers as he nears stardom.)
I get it. James Shields is an accomplished Major League pitcher. He'd be a luxury as a No. 4 starter on a playoff contender. But what grinds my gears is Shields was not traded to a playoff contender. He was dealt to a team desperate not to finish with a losing record because jobs are on the line. Even if Shields' "aura" lasts from now to October, think of everything else that will need to fall the Royals' way.
Salvador Perez must come close to delivering on the MVP-candidate expectations writers are probably unfairly branding him with. Eric Hosmer must bounce back from a horrendous 2012. The Royals must get some kind of production from second base. Mike Moustakas must take another step forward. Alcides Escobar must not take a step backward. Alex Gordon must put up with being jerked around the lineup and still produce. Lorenzo Cain must stay healthy and be a productive everyday player. Jeff Francoeur must pretend he isn't Jeff Francoeur over a full season. The rest of the Royals rotation -- Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Wade Davis, Bruce Chen, whoever else -- must stay healthy all season and put forth the kind of performance that merits being in a Major League rotation all season. That might sound simple enough, but if you'd been asked before the 2012 season what a rotation rounded out by Guthrie, Santana, Davis and Chen was capable of, I can't imagine you would have predicted a playoff appearace. What has changed in a year? Finally, the bullpen must carry over its strong 2012 campaign.
So while I'm glad Royals fans have a pitcher they can rally behind, the enthusiasm is simply misplaced as far as I'm concerned. In reality, Shields' only value to the Royals should be as a summer trade chip. Maybe he will be, but I don't have that much faith in Dayton Moore. And even if he does wind up trading Shields before he leaves via free agency, he'll likely blunder such a trade just as he did the deal to bring Shields to Kansas City.
I know, the trade was back in early December. It's early March. I should be over it by now. Maybe I would be, except for the dubious "Player to be named later" -- Elliot Johnson. A replacement-level player if there ever was one. He's older than me and I'm already at the age I'm in awe when I see a player like Mike Trout and think about how much younger than me he is. And, as desperate as the Royals are for a regular second baseman, Johnson is not an every day regular beyond the Triple A level.
For two months, I held out hope that maybe the PTBNL might be one of the Rays' top draft picks in 2012 (because players must be with an organization for at least a year before they can be traded). I thought maybe that would make losing Myers and three other prospects worthwhile. Maybe. I thought that might redeem Dayton Moore in my eyes. Maybe.
Instead, I've never thought lower of an executive. Of what use is Elliot Johnson to a team supposedly in playoff contention? He's not just a poor man's version of Jed Lowrie. He might be a dead man's version of Jed Lowrie.
But if fans' enthusiasm for Shields is misplaced, as far as I'm concerned, because the Royals are counterfeit contenders, I guess my frustrations over Johnson in a Royals uniform are misplaced, as well, because he's just the kind of player a losing team targets.
Fire Dayton Moore