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Zack Grienke Trade Undermines Royals Previous Off-Season Work

The Royals have been busy this off-season, no one can deny that one. Dayton Moore finally pulled the trigger on a long-awaited trade, much the same as Padres General Manager Jed Yoder traded Adrian Gonzalez a little earlier this off-season in the long-rumored deal to the Boston Red Sox. Teams are making more decisive moves than ever, getting rid of troubling contracts, disgruntled players or top-notch trade assets to either head straight for the top or plunge to the bottom (in the hopes to getting back to the top).

Unfortunately for the Royals, they'd already made some moves earlier this off-season that now come into question given the recent Zack Grienke trade. The return in the Grienke trade included a promising centerfield candidate in Lorenzo Cain. The Brewers drafted the Georgia native in the 17th round of the 2004 draft out of high school, and he was just finding his place at the major league level last season after slowly making his way through each level of the minors.

Cain hit .304 in 43 games for the Brewers last season and also reached base at a .348 clip. At 24, there's a lot of upside for Cain to grow into a decent leadoff hitter with plus speed. In other words, he's the kind of the player the Royals should place in the starting line-up as their center fielder every single game they possibly can. And that poses a problem. His name is Melky Cabrera.

"Write Melky Cabrera into the Royals' lineup as the starting center fielder." That's the lead quote from a story on Melky's signing just two weeks ago. Even though it's just a one-year deal, Cabrera specifically chose Kansas City because of the opportunity to play every day, and according to quotes from manager Ned Yost, he's been promised that chance as well. So was recent signing Jeff Francouer, specifically in right field. That's a problem.

This means someone is out. Is it a one-year rental like Cabrera or Francouer? Is it longtime Royals prospect Alex Gordon, projected to play in left? Some fans were already scratching their heads over the Royals refusal to give younger players like Jarrod Dyson and Mitch Maier the keys to see how far they could go. After all, the Royals are clearly playing for the future.

Did the Royals not realize they'd target a guy like Cain? Did they not realize they would go after a center fielder? Were the Brewers not even in the picture at the time? Surely someone is unhappy at this stage, whether it's a younger outfielder now buried on the depth chart or a free agent signing who just got the rug pulled out from underneath him.

The Royals pulled the trigger, so there's no going back. But the proper thing to do is to play Cain as much as possible. If that means a new signing sits, so be it. But it shows no foresight on the Royals part going into the Grienke trade.