Fire Dayton Moore

Fire Dayton Moore
It's time.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Don't stop now

At my job, there are basically two Royals "fans" in the entire building. I say "fans" for a couple reasons. Sure there are other people who like to hear when the Royals have won. But there are only two who had their phones out for instant updates from today's game in Detroit. I also say "fans" because I'm just too stupid to follow another team while my co-worker has probably never considered following another team.

He's old school. I lean new school. I was feeling pretty good about myself when I started writing for this blog. When he found out about it, he went off on me. And it was an awkward couple months after that. But when the Royals set out for their road trip which concluded this afternoon, we were both in agreement that a .500 record against Atlanta, Boston and Detroit would be an absolute positive. I don't know if either of us actually expected it to happen.

The Braves were the hottest team in baseball. The Red Sox were one of the hottest teams in the American League. Detroit was the unquestioned favorite in the AL Central. Somehow, someway — despite interruptions from national tragedy and poor weather — the Royals return home Friday at 11-8 overall following a 4-3 showing on the trip.

What does it mean? Well, it's not yet May, so not a whole lot. Minnesota is second in the Central as I write this. What do I think it means? Well, maybe the Royals aren't as far from winning as I thought. I'm not convinced of that just yet. But there's no debating that the Royals are in first place and have proven they're at least capable of playing competent baseball this season.

However, if you're Dayton Moore — and odds are you're not — you've already made your stance known. You've announced that the Royals have entered their window for winning. You've shipped off your best prospect. You've committed millions of dollars to players who probably won't be on the team in 2015 and, if they are, won't be major contributors. So, for now, Moore can pat himself on the back. But he can't put the club on auto-pilot just yet.

The Royals are still a player or two away from being serious contenders. I've already made my thoughts  clear on what the Royals should do about Giancarlo Stanton. Very clear. But listening to ESPN's Baseball Tonight Podcast, Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian discussed a trade possibility I can't believe I didn't come up with first.

Due to what can only be diagnosed as a complete lack of comprehension when it comes to statistical analysis, the Philadelphia Phillies are not a good team. They don't have many trade pieces remaining to start rebuilding. But they do have one that makes a ton of sense to unload: Chase Utley.

He's in the last year of his contract, he's 34 years old and has an injury history that could make him worthless if the Phils don't trade him while he's healthy. But he's still productive and plays a position almost every team could use an upgrade at as a second baseman. If the Phillies were willing to eat a majority of the $15 million he's due this season, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to get back an elite prospect or a solid package of prospects. Maybe both.

Olney and Kurkjian first mentioned the Orioles as a perfect fit for Utley. I can't argue with that. He'd look great in that lineup and I'm sure he'd enjoy not having to move far from Philly. The only question is what the Orioles can offer other than Dylan Bundy, who I doubt they'd let go of for Utley no matter how much money the Phillies took on, and Kevin Gausman, who some say the organization likes even more than Bundy even if he's not as highly rated.

The other team they mentioned was...drumroll...the Kansas City Royals. I'm not sure what reasons they might have to doubt Chris Getz or Johnny Giavotella. Other than the fact Getz had more homes runs (1) than walks until he walked on Wednesday, which explains his .241 OBP. And other than the fact the Royals clearly have no faith in Giavotella (and neither do I). All that aside, I'm not sure how they reached such a conclusion.

All sarcasm aside, it makes a ton of sense. For one, Utley is actually a realistic replacement at a position of need for the Royals. Stanton probably isn't going anywhere. I don't know where the Royals are going to find another third baseman if Mike Moustakas can't get his act together. But unless Utley simply doesn't want to go anywhere, there's no reason he shouldn't be available.

And as much as Moore talks about adding veterans with the right clubhouse presence, Utley makes a ton of sense. He's won a World Series. He's finished as high as seventh in the MVP voting. He's a pro's pro. And even though Alex Gordon of all people should be able to relate to Moustakas and see him through his struggles, there's little doubt Utley could be a positive influence on Moustakas. And Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar for that matter.

On the Royals' end, they have just as much to offer in the form of prospects as the Orioles. If the Phillies' want elite prospects, they're better off dealing with the Orioles (assuming the Orioles are willing to part ways with Bundy or Gausman). If the Phillies want a package of prospects, the Royals are the better fit. The Royals haven't ruined Kyle Zimmer or Yordano Ventura (yet) and players like Jorge Bonifacio, Sam Selman, Orlando Calixte and Jason Adam should also be available. I would hold onto Adalberto Mondesi unless the Marlins come calling about Stanton. I wouldn't give up all of the players above for Utley, but Zimmer or Ventura plus another piece or three lower ranked players would be a fine package, depending on how much money the Phillies would be willing to take on.

If there's one thing I can think of that might rule the Royals out of an Utley deal, it's money. If the Phillies aren't willing to eat much or any of Utley's $15 million, I'm not sure how much more cash David Glass can make available. And if that's what happens and Utley winds up in Baltimore as a result, the mistake in paying Luke Hochevar $4.56 million this season will become all the more glaring.

Fire Dayton Moore

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