I've stated this all along. A 13-9 record in June hasn't changed that. A 18-9 June record at the end of the month won't change that. So, if we can all agree on this fact, it's time to look at possible trades Dayton Moore should be looking into. Moore could have been a buyer, but in my opinion he waited too long to find a legitimate right fielder or second baseman. There's no point in giving up more prospects now.
Also as I write this, the Washington Nationals are 38-38, in second place in the National League East, 6 games behind the Braves and 5.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. They entered the season as World Series favorites but to this point have underachieved and appear to be in desperate need of a shot in the arm. Bryce Harper's eventual return will certainly help, but their rotation is on shaky ground, as well.
The top three Nationals starters are solid with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, but it peters out quickly with a pair of Rosses: Detwiler and Ohlendorf. Even at the top, though, Strasburg has had injury concerns this year, Gonzalez has been connected to the Biogenesis lab in Florida and Zimmermann's ERA has risen significantly the second half of the last two seasons (0.77 in 2012 and 1.81 in 2011).
But even if we assume the best possible outcomes with Strasburg, Gonzalez and Zimmermann, the back of the rotation remains an issue and there don't appear to be any immediate internal alternatives. Dan Haren is on the DL and was atrocious when healthy (6.15 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 19 HR in 82 innings). Nathan Karns posted a 7.50 ERA, 1.93 WHIP and five home runs allowed in 12 innings between three starts after being called up from Triple-A earlier this season. That means, unless the Nationals look outside the organization, it's all up to Detwiler (4.18, 1.48, 2.9 K/BB rate) and Ohlendorf, who hasn't started more than nine games, posted an ERA below 7.77 or a WHIP below 1.77 since 2010.
Suffice it to say, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is quickly finding out how quickly the window to win in baseball can slam shut. If he isn't already working the phones to see who might be available, he'd better start soon.
What does this have to do with the Royals? Well, there just so happens to be a pitcher known for his performances in "big games" sporting a 2.92 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 0.8 HR/9 rate this year, who would make a heck of a No. 4 starter. There's also a pitcher with a 2.74 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 4.7 K/BB rate in the last year of his contract but with plenty left to prove.
Those pitchers are of course James Shields and Ervin Santana and both should be on the trade block. It's not too late for Moore to recover some of the promise for the Royals' future he unloaded in the offseason.
The problem is, I'm not sure the Nationals would be the best fit.
The Nationals' top pitching prospect is Lucas Giolito, a first round draft pick in 2012. However, he underwent Tommy John surgery last year and he's just now beginning to throw again. I think he has the potential to bounce back and turn into a front-end starter. I don't believe the Royals would be able to coax that potential out of him, though. The Nationals' top outfield prospect is Brian Goodwin, who has a similar profile to Tom Goodwin despite being no relation that I'm aware of. Goodwin could be leadoff material, but he could just as easily be No. 8 or No. 9 fodder and the Royals already have plenty such hitters.
Pitcher A.J. Cole and outfielder Michael Taylor are also interesting names in their system.
Unless Rendon were involved, Moore wouldn't be able to get the quality he gave up for Shields, but he could acquire some quantity. Maybe a deal involving Santana would be a better match.
Another interesting name is Danny Espinosa. Having led the NL in strikeouts last year and finished third in 2011, I think he is what he is, but he might just be a better option at second base than what the Royals currently have. I'd definitely be open to trading for him if it meant getting out of Jeremy Guthrie or Wade Davis' contracts.
My point is, whether it's Shields, Santana, Guthrie or even Davis, the Royals have some commodities that could be of value to playoff contenders. If I was Moore, I'd be searching high and low to see just how much I could get for any of those four pitchers.
We saw what a team with no chance of making the playoffs was willing to give up to acquire them. Who knows what a team in a playoff chase might part with.
Fire Dayton Moore
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