The KC Royals dealt long-reliever Joe Blanton to the Pittsburgh Pirates late Wednesday evening, one day after designating him for assignment, in order to add trade acquisition Johnny Cueto to the roster.
The Kansas City Royals received “cash considerations” for Blanton, who will join the Pirates bullpen according to early reports. Blanton could, however, find his way into the back end of the Pittsburgh rotation since the Pirate starters Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton have ERA’s over 4.00. He showed the Pirates just what he could do in helping Kansas City defeat the Pirate ace Gerritt Cole 3-1 last week.
The interesting thing here, from a KC Royals fan perspective, is that general manager Dayton Moore asked for cash. One would have thought he might have preferred to restock his system after giving up five arms for Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist since Sunday. That Moore asked for cash makes me wonder if he’s right up against his operating budget for the 2015 season.
Notice that the Kansas City Royals also received cash in BOTH of the deals that brought Cueto and Zobrist to KC. Extracting money from the Reds and A’s, neither of whom is a big market club, almost certainly raised the price the Kansas City Royals paid in prospects to make those trades happen.
It’s an all around strange deal. I, in fact, predicted just hours before this trade that the Royals would not move Blanton because they wouldn’t want to help a potential rival in October. Though, I can’t help but notice that they traded Blanton to a National League club that could only face them if they win the NL pennant.
I think these facts tells us just how much Dayton Moore is “going for it” in 2015. After spending most of a decade hoarding his prospects, Moore is now burning through them in order to both land the final pieces to what he hopes to be a championship puzzle in 2015, as well as effectively increasing his budget limits.
Not that I blame him. Kansas City Star writer Lee Judge cited an anonymous former Royals coach who advised that teams should generally go “all in” when a chance to win a title comes rather than protect the prospect pipeline. That thinking reflects the risk that comes with even the best prospects. And, in the case of five pitchers, we’re talking about a lot risk since pitchers are much more prone to career-ending injury than position players.
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Also, the chance to win a title doesn’t come along very often. KC Royals fans, who watched 29 years of baseball futility end in one magical October run in 2014, should know that.
In many ways, the Kansas City Royals achieved far more than anyone could have reasonably expected at this time last year, and even on the eve of the playoffs. The team that required a closed-door pep talk from veteran mid-season acquisition Raúl Ibañez to get its confidence when it fell below .500 in late July, now KNOWS it’s good enough to win a title.
That confidence has manifested itself in multiple ways this season. From their beanball wars in April and May, to their resilience in overcoming a string of injuries to three starting pitchers as well as Alex Gordon‘s groin tear, the KC Royals have proved they believe in themselves. Heck, their 14-6 run since Gordon went down with a two-month injury July 8 suggests a team that can kick it into another level under adversity.
You don’t let such a team go into October without addressing its warts. Especially when that team is already good enough to have the American League’s best record at 61-39. If you don’t win, you will forever wonder what might have been.
Dayton Moore isn’t going to have any regrets if the Kansas City Royals fail to bring home the 2015 World Series title. He will have done all that he could.