By Brian Henry
I advocated to trade Ervin Santana, and said the season was over before the All-Star break. The Royals still aren’t likely to make the playoffs since they need to jump over 3 more teams. Dayton may have finally got a dose of luck, but he definitely had the stones to stay the course even when it looked pretty bad earlier this year and I am glad he did whether this team sneaks into the playoffs or not.
No stats today, it is all about how much fun it is to truly be in the race. Not with a team that I expected to collapse in 2003, but a legitimately talented team that has put it together down the stretch. There are still holes and questions, a lack of power, and Ned Yost issues. There is also a good rotation, one of the most dominant bullpens in history, and enough wins to make things interesting.
The great part about this is that I finally believe this team is going to win. Every day. When they don’t I am surprised. That is not something I have ever been able to say about a Royals team. And it is so much fun. If it means that we did not get as much for Santana as we might have, fine. That is worth the trade-off. It also leads to another decision on Luke Hochevar this off-season rather than having traded him off like was rumored. Great, I am happy to let them try and figure out what to do with him. Sorry, still can’t say the James Shields trade is worth it, but I can definitely say I am glad no major pieces were traded at the All-Star break.
Is there really value in Eric Hosmer and other young players being part of a playoff race? Proving that is difficult, but there probably is some value that the Royals have gained from this experience. If nothing else, the players should be confident heading into next year and that might be valuable too. And don’t forget us fans, we have gained a lot and will likely be more interested in next year as well.
The best part is being able to think about the playoffs in a realistic manner. If this team did get in it is constructed pretty well for the short series structure. Ervin and Big Game James at the front of a shortened rotation and the best bullpen in the league (no Wade Davis in the 8th like last night hopefully Ned). The line-up has the ability to manufacture runs in a tight game. Maybe they could make a real run if they got in. Those are the sorts of thoughts that have crossed my mind, and they don’t seem completely far-fetched.
Whatever happens, this has been the most fun I have had as a Royals fan. I really, really hope that statement is not true for much longer, but for now it is enough. Thank you Dayton for standing pat when the season was looking pretty grim. Long-term, just being in contention is not enough, but for this year being close enough to dream has been worth it.