December 12, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitchers James Shields (left) and Wade Davis speak during the press conference at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

I'm on board

Goodbye Wil Myers… Mandatory Credit: Matt Ryerson-USA TODAY Sports

I know you’re probably tired of reading about the Tampa trade by now…and while I was looking forward to writing about it, I’m not sure how excited I am to do so at this point…but I do have some things I’d like to say about the trade and state of the Royals.

First of all…a moment of silence for all the fans who are in mourning and hoping Elton John comes out with another version of “Candle in the Wind” in memoriam of Wil Myers’ Kansas City career.

Ok, now that we’ve all had a moment to reflect…

Was this a good deal? That’s hard to answer. And it can be argued many ways for either side. I’ll say this…I had very mixed emotions when I sat down to my computer Sunday night as the story started to break. I wound up monitoring the reactions until well after midnight…and went to bed still a little unsure of how I felt about the trade. The only thing I was sure of? I probably invest way too much emotion in this team.

As I rolled out of bed the next morning…sports radio talking heads were interviewing various “experts” on the topic…most to mixed reviews. The national sportswriters were split down the middle – some claiming the Royals were fleeced, some claiming they did great to land an ace another solid pitcher. It was on the drive to work that morning that I came to a decision – I’m on board with this. I do like this deal.

Let me get this out of the way…the whole “Did they overpay?” debate…I don’t know. My initial thought was “what the heck just happened??” But overpaid by whose standards? Did they overpay because Baseball America said these prospects were good? Because they have a lot of potential? Because a stat-head said it didn’t add up?

I don’t buy it. Look…I’m into all that just as much as the next baseball geek – trust me…I analyze and crunch numbers and follow the prospects and up-and-coming high school and college players. But…having the best farm system doesn’t mean crap. It’s nice…sure…but it doesn’t mean you’re going to win at the big league level – which is really all that matters. And, by the way, we still have a great farm system. The high-end prospects might be further away from the big leagues than Myers or Jake Odorizzi, but they are still damn good.

Anibal Sanchez – did we ever really have a chance? Mandatory Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

The economics of baseball also come into play here. Is it stupid for KC to trade away players they can control on the cheap for several years for a high priced ace and another pitcher with a big league salary? I don’t know. I guess. And people want to argue that if KC can afford to add that salary…why don’t they go after Anibal Sanchez? Or Shaun Marcum? Or Ryan Dempster? Or bring Zack Greinke back?

Here’s the reality: those guys don’t want to come here. Why? Because they don’t want to play for loser…not just a loser…but a cheap loser. A loser who will say “we can’t afford to get better.” It’s great in theory…go sign Sanchez and Dempster and keep Myers. Don’t you think that Dayton Moore would have loved to do just that? Do you know why he didn’t? It wasn’t an option. No way they could compete with the bidding war on a guy like Greinke – as we have all seen. No way Anibal Sanchez wanted to go from the Tigers to the lowly Royals. Dempster shot down an offer. And if we went after Marcum to be anything more than a 4 or 5 starter I think I would’ve vomited. Moore did what he had to do to turn the page here in KC…to move away from a losing mindset. He went out and paid dearly to improve his big league club greatly.

You know who absolutely loves this move? The players on the big league team like Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Sal Perez, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Jeremy Guthrie, the newly acquired Ervin Santana…and so on and so on. Why? Because losing sucks. They don’t like it. They don’t like to be the punchline of MLB jokes. They like to win. And guess what? You thought it sucked to lose a guy like Myers – who we never saw suit up in Kansas City? How bad does it suck when guys can’t wait to get off this sinking ship? Guys who we have grown to love and root for like the players I just mentioned? You think they will stick around with a rotation like the one we trotted out there last year? Nope. But if the team starts winning…that’s when guys say “I want to stay put. I like it here.”

Winning can go a long way for a team like the Royals. Not only does it change the perception from outside (and potentially lures future free agents), it changes everything within the organization. It builds confidence. Guys have more fun coming to the ballpark. They build friendships. They want to be here. They believe they can win.

Shields and Davis…let’s win some ball games. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

They get mad when they don’t. It changes an organization’s entire way of thinking. You think guys like Hosmer and Moose won’t work a little harder now? Won’t be more excited? Won’t have more confidence? I say you’re crazy.

I say not only did the starting pitching improve…the bullpen just got better, too. The same bullpen that is already regarded as one of the best in baseball, but gets worn out due to overuse. Look at the durability in this rotation now. That won’t happen in 2013 – the relievers will be fresh all year, rather than worn down in August.

Not only does the starting pitching improve the bullpen…it just made the offense better as well. If you want to project Myers to be the next big thing, if you’re going to use his minor league stats to project his major league success, then you can’t believe Moustakas and Hosmer won’t improve. They will. And now, the pressure is off. The games where KC trails an opponent by six runs in the third inning are gone…because our starting pitching just got better. No more pressure to hit balls out of the park. No more watching young batters trying to hit a 7-run homer to overcome an insurmountable deficit.

It all flows through the starting pitching. But what about Jeff Francoeur, you ask? What about him? Who cares? First of all, let me say…I want him gone, but I do think he will play somewhat better (it’s not easy for someone to suck that bad). If this team’s success comes down to how Jeff Francoeur plays, though…well…the rest of the team is a lot worse than we thought. No team has a perfect nine on the field. Every team has a weak spot or two. Or more. If you want to point to a negative, look past Frenchy and ask this question: Why do the Royals stink at developing pitchers? That’s the root of a very big problem, and why this trade was necessary to begin with. But that’s a topic for another day.

I’ve rambled on long enough (give me a break, I’ve been waiting a few days to chime in…but I’m starting to feel more wordy than Rany). So…to those who want to ask “What if?”

What if Wil Myers wins Rookie of the Year? What if Wil Myers goes on to hit .280 with 30 homers every year for the next 10 years? Well, what if he doesn’t? And even if he does? The Royals still might be better off in the long run.

Tags: James Shields Kansas City Royals

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