How cool is Jonah Keri? Super intelligent. Has already written an incredible book on a super intelligent MLB team (hint: not the Royals). And he will interact with almost anyone on Twitter.
On Monday, I noticed him responding to questions regarding what teams should do as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. Naturally, I wanted to ask about the Royals. On one hand they're 43-49, but on the other they're only eight games out in the AL Central. But back on the one hand, they've lost five straight and seven of their last 10. OK, I'm struggling to come up with anything else on the other hand that doesn't have something to do with the Athletics overcoming second half deficits. But back to the one hand, the Royals will play their first seven games post-break against the Tigers and Orioles and will play 44 games in 44 days from late July to early September, so I'm sure that won't be a train wreck.
That being the case, even Jonah Keri didn't have a straightforward solution for the Royals:
You see, that's all Dayton Moore accomplished over the winter. He raised the Royals from the American League sewer all the way up to swirling around a flushing toilet (Congratulations, by the way, to the Royals' three All-Stars in Flushing, NY!) but refusing to go down, threatening to clog the stool at best.
In a way, the Royals are in the worst position of all. Face it, there's zero chance they reach the postseason. But they're just good enough and have been so pitiful in the past, the front office is scared to sell off spare parts and push back the "window" Moore crudely constructed by trading for James Shields.
Prior to the Shields trade, 2014 was a reasonable opening for a window to compete. Wil Myers would have been entering his first full season in the bigs. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez would all have another year of experience (for better or worse with Moose). Alex Gordon and Billy Butler would still be around. The club would have had ample money to spend. And with any luck, the development staff would have done its job and produced some — any — arms for the rotation. Meanwhile the Tigers would have aged, the White Sox would be bottoming out, the Twins would be rebuilding and the Indians would be a wild card.
I'm not uncovering anything new in saying that was supposed to be the plan all along until Moore panicked over his job security. Now the Royals are out of contention and, barring a handful of unforeseen prospects emerging by next season to help at second base, the outfield and the rotation, the team will be in the same boat in 2014. Remember, few impact players are expected to be available through free agency. Any Royals prospect of value for trade is in the low minors now. And by the time the Royals are out of contention and elect to deal Shields, they will recover merely a fraction of what they lost to get him and that's assuming he's still healthy and still pitching well.
So 2015 is technically the start of the window. But wait, Shields will be gone one way or another. By 2016, Billy Butler might be gone and the club will feel the effects of Moore whiffing on first round pick Hunter Dozier this year. By 2017, Alex Gordon* might be gone and the franchise will suffer from having a mid-first round pick in next year's draft, rather than an early-first round pick — another result of the damage done by Moore this year.
*I'm guessing Moore didn't budget for this either:
Because of one trade, the Royals aren't just in limbo for the rest of July. They're in limbo for the rest of the decade. Another decade, that is.
While I'm on the topic, I should mention Sam Mellinger wrote a great column for The Star about yet another small market team surpassing the Royals during Moore's tenure. Please read it here.
Mellinger mentioned the Pirates having the huevos to trade Nate McLouth at the peak of his career, even though it seemed he would have to remain a cornerstone if the team were to realistically compete. As it turned out, Pittsburgh couldn't have traded him at a better time and it has reaped the rewards.
So, as Jonah Keri and I discussed as in-depth as we could in 140 characters, Shields would be a prime trade chip this month. If Moore played his cards right and waited for a team desperate enough on July 31, he could probably get back as much as he gave up to the Rays. But doing so would signify throwing in the towel for 2014, thus putting his neck back on the chopping block, which we already know he doesn't have the integrity to do.
Instead, the Royals are left with one legitimate trade chip in Ervin Santana. He would fetch maybe one useful prospect. After that, like Keri said, maybe Chris Getz would fetch Yoenis Cespedes' batting gloves from the Home Run Derby. Maybe. I don't think any team would give up much for Jeremy Guthrie. What's worse, I'm sure Moore thinks he's actually a front end arm. The Royals have never been good at cashing in on relievers, unless you consider the pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez for Mike Jacobs a success.
Of course, July trades have never really been the Royals' thing. You owe it to yourself to check that link out. Sums up the franchise nicely. Never buying, always selling, and bad at it. And if that truly was the Royals' best July trade, it wasn't made by Moore.
Not even someone who's used to having the answer knows what to do with the Royals at this point. Why is someone who clearly doesn't have the answers still running the franchise?
Fire Dayton Moore
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