Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Links: Trading James Shields, Payroll, 1st Half Grades, & More

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Last night’s win over the White Sox was an important one for the Royals. After losing their first four games in the second half, they found themselves not just on the edge of contention, but below .500 and closer to last place in the division than to first place. Well, they’re still below .500 and closer to last place in the division than to first place, but they’re not preparing to be swept by another bad team, which is nice. The Royals are in a better position today than they were yesterday, thanks to the bats of Mike Moustakas and Raul Ibanez. Just like Dayton Moore imagined. Let’s get to some links.

– According to Dave Cameron of FanGraphs, the Royals should look to trade James Shields. There aren’t many options for frontline starters on the trade market right now, meaning whoever misses out on the David Price sweepstakes may be willing to give up a nice haul in exchange for the Royals’ ace. The playoff odds for the Royals definitely don’t look great, but I see no way the front office deals Shields before July 31.

– At Royals Review, Max Rieper has an excellent breakdown on what the Royals’ payroll situation will look like next season. Obviously a lot can change between now and then, but unless the team can trade away a couple of contracts, it doesn’t appear that they will have too much financial flexibility in 2015.

– The Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger wrote about how the Royals always seem to crumble when the pressure is on. It’s certainly an interesting observation, although I think the issues run quite a bit deeper than the players not performing well enough when the lights are brightest. Mistakes can be magnified when the pressure is on, and when a team goes this long without any modicum of success, a few bad games can feel like a never-ending choke job. I would suggest the Royals are just an average team that struggles to find consistency.

– Jeffrey Flanagan of FOX Sports Kansas City hands out grades to the Royals for the first half, first to the hitters, and then to the pitchers. Obviously there are more D’s and F’s than you would like to see, but with a team that limped into the All-Star break like the Royals, it’s tough to argue with most of the grades.

– From The Hardball Times, a study on how we may try to assign credit and/or blame for stolen bases. The debate over whether a base is stolen on the pitcher or the catcher is far too complex for an easy answer with percentages, so I’ll warn you that the math does get kind of heavy. Still, it’s a fascinating post from Max Weinstein that attempts to take into consideration the game situation, the pitcher’s reputation, and the catcher’s reputation.

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