Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Royals make a trade showing that the time to win is now rather than later.
Who would have thought that in the second week in December the biggest sports story in Kansas City would be the Royals. That is a very rare thing. So we start this week by looking at major principles involved in the biggest trade of the MLB off-season so far.
1. Who The Royals Got:
Late Sunday evening news began to surface via twitter that the Royals had acquired pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis from the Tampa Bay Rays. I was taken aback when I heard news of the trade because to be honest I thought the chances of the Royals making an acquisition of this caliber were slim. These are two legitimate starting pitchers the Royals have added to their rotation and now makes this one of the most talented Royals rotations in ten plus years.
James Shields was not my first choice of Rays pitchers I was hoping the Royals would trade for this off-season. That honor went to super stud and current A.L. Cy Young winner David Price. But Shields it not a bad consolation prize. A lot of the fear that comes with James Shields is his work load the past few seasons. Since 2007 Shields has logged 200+ innings every year. So the natural Royals fan reaction is to assume that his arm is going to explode in late May.
Pitchers get hurt. That is a fact of Major League Baseball so Royals fans have a right to be fearful of that with Shields. But there is recent history of these work horse type pitchers being holding up over time. The main examples being C.C. Sabathia, Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, Cole Hamels, and Roy Halladay to name a few. Based on Shields' age I think the chances are less likely that he gets hurt like Roy Halladay was this past season. If Shields does blow out his arm the Royals only control him and his contract for two years. Shields is a work horses who eats innings, strikes out a crapton of batters and can win a playoff game 1-0. The Royals have only had one pitcher in the last ten years who could do that in his name was Zack Greinke.
The other Rays pitcher the Royals acquired in the trade was former starter and current bullpen guy Wade Davis. I have been a fan of Davis for the past few years and I can't really tell you a specific reason why. The closest thing I can remember was flipping on a Rays game when he was starting and was drawn to the way he pitched and commanded a game made me a fan. He has a chance to the real gem of this trade for the Royals. The Royals control Davis for potential the next five years and they are going to have him back starting this season. That is five seasons of a #3 type pitcher on a team desperate for starting pitching.
How insane is it to think that the Royals could actually make the playoffs this season? It really is nuts to say that. That is what this trade did for the Royals. It added something they were greatly lacking while not taking away any of the current pieces on the big league roster. Which brings me to the other side of the trade...
2. Who The Royals Gave Up:
Well...It finally happened. The Royals traded Wil Myers. The prospects of all prospects. The Minor League Player Of The Year. Super-Man owns one athlete jersey and its of Wil Myers. That is how awesome Wil Myers will potentially be. Notice I used the word potentially. I was born in Kansas City and lived here my entire life and at this point it is safe to say I will die in this city. They Royals have sucked for 90% of the time I have been alive. They are a joke among my friends who root for teams not named the Royals. We were forced to memorize the names in baseball prospectus and masters of major league service time. For so long fans have waited for the big league club to finally get to a point where winning and winning now matters and this trade showed that. So naturally Royals fans hated it. Well maybe not all Royals fans more like Royals Minor League fans hate it.
I get why people freaked out upon hearing that Wil Myers was traded. I, like most others think the chances that Myers is a complete bust are slim. He looks like a can't miss, top self player in the minor league but I have seen that before. We have all seen that before. It happens in other organizations with other players like Brandon Wood, Matt LaPorta, and Brandon Belt. All guys who were very highly thought of prospects and turned out to be just okay players and in the case of Brandon Wood not good at all. Royals fans have seen it before in Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer. It is still early for Moose and Hos so the chances they become the stars they were projected to be is still there. But lets take a closer look at Alex Gordon.
Very few players have come with the hype and pomp and circumstance that Alex Gordon did. A kid who grew up around the area (Nebraska) and as a Royals fan. Idolized the greatest player in Royals history (George Brett) and played the same position as him and etc. Gordon's career took a lot longer than anyone thought it would take to get on track. After stints in triple A and a position change to the outfield Gordon has now become a very fine player. But that is all he is. A pretty good player. A top 20 player at his position but not a super star by any means.
So that brings me to Wil Myers. What if Myers turns out to be just a good player? Another Alex Gordon type player for the Royals. Would he had been worth not trading? My biggest frustration with the reaction surrounding trading Myers from Royals fans and the media members who don't cover this team as closely saying that Myers is a 100% guarantee to be a star. There are no guarantees when it comes to prospects in baseball. Especially if your named the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals traded an unknown and unproven commodity (Myers, Odorizzi, Montegomery, and Leonard) for players that are known and proven in Davis and Shields. If the Royals are going to make any noise in the post season it is going be a lot more akin to the San Francisco Giants (awesome starting pitching & just enough hitting) than it will be like the Detroit Tigers (awesome hitters falling out of your ass)
The other two major names in this trade that the Royals sent to Tampa Bay are RHP Jake Odorizzi and LHP Mike Montgomery. I know 3B Jeremy Leonard was also included in the trade but this trade was really about the Myers, Odorizzi, and Montgomery. Odorizzi showed some glimpses of promise in the minors last season but struggled to go deep into games and did not set the world on fire when he has called up at the end of last season. The thought is that Odorizzi's ceiling is as a number three starter in the majors. Mike Montgomery was very highly thought of in the Royals organization two years ago and then he completely fell off the map. Montgomery looks like a project the Rays are going to try to fix and see if they can turn him into something. It is clear that the Royals made a mistake not trading Montgomery back when his value was at its highest.
That is the tricky part when it comes to MLB prospects. Knowing when to turn those highly thought of prospects into other assets and when to hold on to them. That is one of the few reasons why I like the trade the Royals made. They traded Wil Myers at the height of his value. He was never going to be worth more than he is now for the simple reason that he has yet to fail at the big league level. The Royals saw that and turn him into two legitimate starting pitchers in order to win. The Royals major league team has sucked and sucked hard for a long time. That is something the outsiders who were quick to call this trade a horrible one for the Royals fail to understand.
Royals fans have been told year after year after year for the past six years to wait and eventually all of this rebuilding and repairing of the minor league system was going to positively effect the major league team. It was going to effect it in term of real wins that count in standings and not in Baseball America's top prospects list.
3. The Great Wide Open:
And now we get around to the Kansas City Chiefs. They find new ways to be relevant while still being a very bad team. This week's fun centers around WR Steve Breaston and how well he grasps the game plan. If you listened to Romeo Crennel on Wednesday you would know that Breaston will play and be active for the games once he shows a great understanding of the game plan. Then if you listened to Romeo Crennel on Thursday you know that he never said that Breaston did not need to have a better understanding of the game plan. Yes go ahead and let that whole thing sink in for a few mins. With all the misdirection and all over the place RAC threw at us this week I would not be shocked to learn he writes for the show American Horror Story.
There are many different angles and when it comes to the curious case of Steve Breaston. First off let me say that I absolutely, 100% completely loved the way Breaston handled himself on Wednesday when he was asked about his understanding of the game plan. His line that "you can't fight City Hall" was classic. I loved hearing it and have yet to get sick of it. I want to make that my ring tone. You know he had to be thinking of that line before hand. No way someone just drops that out like that without having practiced it. Breaston was a true profession when asked about his lack of playing time and showed many of the qualities that his peers have raved about. He did what grown ups in jobs tend to handle himself. He did not make excuses, get angry and throw a fit. He just added another reason why he is my favorite Chiefs player. That and we both love comic books and Thunder Cats.
Now lets get real about this Steve Breaston thing. This has a lot to do with him being a Todd Haley guy and a lot less to do with his production. Wide Receivers who are getting signed off the practice squad on Saturday are starting over Breaston the next day. So those guys have that great understanding of the game that Breaston has been lacking. I am glad to see that Jon Baldwin can scream at his QB on national TV and run poor route after poor route and still get plenty of playing time while Breaston hangs out on the side line in street clothes on Sunday afternoons. Once again this feels like the upper management of the Chiefs worrying too much about the little things and failing to see the bigger picture.
Now, all of that being said I fully expect Steve Breaston to be active for Sunday's game at the Raiders. After all of the heat RAC took this week about Breaston being inactive I can see him finally having that "great understanding of the game plan" that he has been missing. Hell, Breaston might even get a few passes thrown his way.
4. Are You Mocking Me?
We can all rejoice. ESPN scouting God Todd McShay has released his mock draft of the season. Right now the Chiefs are in line to have the first overall pick in the 2013 draft and McShay has them taking.....A defensive tackle?
(unfortunate horn sound)
And there you go. Todd McShay has the Chiefs drafting Utah DT Star Lotulelei who I have no doubt is a fine player but if the Chiefs draft ANOTHER defensive lineman with a top 5 pick I am sure the Hellmouth will open up and release many many badd things upon the Earth. McShay also has West Virginia QB Geno Smith being the first QB drafted with the 8th overall. Well since I don't see it taking until the 8th pick for a QB to be taken I am going to go ahead and assume if the Chiefs do in fact end up with the first overall pick that they will not be drafting a defensive tackle.
5. Bes-ler In The Trap:
Chiefs and Royals weren't the only pro sports team in town making news this week. As Sporting Kansas City continues to put the disappointing playoff lose behind them by making sure the club is ready to contend again in 2013. One of the moves was to resign MLS Defender Of The Year and local boy Matt Besler to a three-year deal. I know there are many sports fans in the city who feel like soccer is being crammed down their collective throats. Moves like resigning Besler is why so many people are trying to get you to like soccer and Sporting KC. They are a professional sports franchise that truly gets it. Matt Besler is a home town guy who went to high school in the area and has been a fixture of the community since being drafted. Only bad things could have happened if Sporting was not able to retain him. Having Besler be a really good player made the decision that much easier for the club too. Lets not get it mistaken. If Besler sucked then the resigning would be seen as more of a PR move being he was a local guy.
I have had the pleasure of meeting and being around Matt Besler on a hand full of occasions (humblebrag) and he is a great reflection of what Sporting KC is about. So far I own two pieces of Sporting KC gears. The third piece is going to be a Matt Besler shirt.
Follow me on Twitter @craig_a_brenner and until next week peace out.