I’d like to make it perfectly clear that I in no way shape or form WANT
to trade away Zack Greinke. In fact, I’d like for the Royals to lock
him up past the 2013 season. I don’t want to see him in anything other
than a Royals uniform. I especially don’t want to see him in a
Yankee’s uniform, but I would be willing to bet my livelihood that Zack
has better sense than that. Plus he has this social anxiety issue that
doesn’t normally coincide with a New York lifestyle. Zack is one of my
all time favorite Royals and not just because he won the AL Cy Young
last season (but it helps). First of all, he genuinely loves the
Royals. That doesn’t happen very often, even with players who are
getting paid millions by the Royals (see Neifi Perez). He says funny
and wacky things. He plays World of Warcraft for God’s sake!
He’s a down to earth superstar and who doesn’t love that?! Alas,
that’s selfish of me. I’m really only thinking of myself when I say
“we need to keep Greinke until the fed’s pry him away from our bony,
small market hands”. What we really need to do is get rid of him as
soon as humanly possible. Whoa! Calm down Sparky! Hear me out:
What the Royals have right now is the hottest commodity in baseball in
Zack Greinke. He’s not only a “feel-good story”, he’s damn good. What
he brings to the table for a handful of mediocre teams is playoff
contention and for teams already contending he brings them a World
Series ring. Immediately. Quirkiness and all. So what does that mean
for the Royals? Well, as the title suggests I think the perfect fit
all around is the Atlanta Braves. They have the talent Kansas City
will require and they’re in the National League. Those are the two
aspects that, as a fan, I’m looking for when I think about a potential
Greinke trade. I want tons of talent that will shape the Royals’
future and I don’t ever want to face him unless it’s in game 1 of the
World Series. If we do have to face him in game 1 of a World Series it
means the trade did it’s job and Kansas City is back as a premiere
baseball club so I’ll be happy to have him destroy us for 9 innings. I
bet you Braves fans are salivating at this point thinking of a rotation
anchored by Zack Greinke, but at what cost? Therein lies the
question. What exactly would it take to peel Zack Greinke away from the
lowly Royals? Here’s a start:
Tommy Hanson: This guy is sick! He went 11-4 with an ERA of
2.89 and more importantly a WHIP of 1.18. What’s even better is that
was his rookie season. He’s only going to get better! Or worse. Who
knows? The most recent starting pitcher who had a dominant rookie
season that I can compare this guy to is Francisco Liriano. The only
difference is, Liriano had better stats. We all know what’s become of
him, so Hanson isn’t enough. Onward we go!
Jason Heyward: This guy is going to be a beast. He’s young (21
in August) and has so much upside it’s almost unfair. He’s so good he
could probably be slotted in to the 3 spot in the Royals lineup
starting tomorrow. Apparently he’s got some power concerns, but power
comes with age. More importantly, though, he can get on base. His OBP
in the minors is a hefty .408. That’s ridiculous. The Royals, as a
team in 2009, posted a .318 OBP (this stat includes pitchers though so
the numbers are a little skewed, but the league average with pitchers
was .335). Probably the most important reason why the Royals need this
guy is because we have NOBODY in our farm system that even comes close
to being major league ready who mans the outfield. Derrick Robinson is
close, but he’s having a hard time hitting above .240 in AA. Dejesus
is no longer in his prime, Guillen is a tool and will most definitely
be gone after this season (if not sooner…please Mr. Glass…please?),
Ankiel isn’t the long-term answer since he turns 31 this year and Mitch
Maier? Really? It’s not looking good for the Royals in the near
future, that’s all I’m saying.
Throw in a couple more prospects (yes Braves fans, a couple more…keep
reading and you’ll find out why) and I think we’ve got ourselves a
So why is this deal so great for the Braves? Well, let’s say Dayton
Moore feels like being generous and throws in a mid-level prospect with
Greinke in a package deal, you’ve just won yourselves an NL East
title. Not only that, but you’ve probably won it for the next few
seasons as well. Did you forget that Greinke is only 26 years old and
just now entering his prime? Did you also forget that he costs almost
next to nothing for the next 3 seasons? That’s right, Greinke was
extended by the Royals for 4 years, $38 million. You can restructure
if you want, but you don’t have to do a thing for at least another 2
seasons. Also, we know Atlanta is a bigger market than Kansas City,
but it’s nowhere near what Boston, New York and L.A. bring to the
table. Greinke doesn’t like being in the spotlight and he could get
away with that in Atlanta. This means when it’s time to renegotiate a
contract, he’ll more than likely sign with you so he can stay out of
that media nightmare.
I tell you what. The offer is on the table. Think about it. Take a
trip to a tropical island and have an emotional walk along a sandy
beach while you periodically look up to enjoy the sunset. All we ask
is you do it quick and painless. Like peeling off a band-aid. He’s
our Zacky and we might change our minds. We’ll be waiting for you…
“He is an impact pitching talent who fits in
with our plan for long term success. At 28, he is entering the
prime of his career.” – Dayton Moore just after the 2006 signing of Gil Meche for 5 years and $55 million.
easy for anybody to go back in retrospect and see that this probably
wasn’t a smokin’ deal for the Royals, but c’mon. 28 years old is
hardly the beginning of a baseball players prime. In fact, it’s
actually either the prime year or the year they start to decline.
So now we’ve just signed a guy for 5 years AFTER his prime or at the
best, 4 years. This is why the Royals lose. Of course, this is easy
to say in hindsight, but I remember thinking to myself when the Royals
struck this deal was “why are we signing someone just to sign
someone?” The answer that the Royals had for this particular question
was that they had signed the ace
of the pitching staff. Awesome. He certainly has acted like an ace.
He’s been the opening day starter for the past three seasons. That’s
gotta say something, right? Kind of. His first year as a Royal it was
widely known that he didn’t get any run support and still posted a 9-13
record with a 3.67 ERA and a WHIP of 1.30. The next season he posted a
14-11 record with a 3.98 ERA and a WHIP of 1.32. Last season he was
injured for a portion of the year and ended up 6-10 with a 5.09 ERA and
a WHIP of 1.57 . If this is his prime, then I’m really not looking
forward to the next couple of years.
I’m not saying I have a
problem with Gil Meche. In fact, I’m a fan. I’m just not a fan of our
GM pretending that the signing of Meche was the second coming of Bret
Saberhagen. I’m also not a fan of Gil Meche taking the Greinke being
named the opening day starter as a relief.
As a fan, if I’m helping pay his salary by purchasing Royals
merchandise and going to games and spending $8 for a beer, I want our
2nd highest paid guy to say something like “good for Zack, let’s if he can get it again next year”. That’s what the Royals need. They need
competition. They need something to work towards besides a .500
record. Something a little more tangible. So here’s to hoping someone
lights a fire under Gil and we see a hell of a pitching duel this
season. My money’s on Greinke.
(Oh, the dollar signs were added using Microsoft Paint so don’t judge me, I can’t afford Photoshop) =)
This is the first entry of what could end up being a beautiful relationship. Since this is a blog dedicated to the Kansas City Royals, I’m going to stick with the theme even if Dayton Moore decides to give the blogging world absolutely nothing to blog about. As a Kansas City Royals fan, you know this happens all too often. Shall we begin?
I’d like to start by explaining my credentials as a Royals fan. I mean, how else are you going to take this blog about a franchise that couldn’t be serious, seriously. Right? Exactly. I was born in October 1979 (which we all know has been the loneliest month as a Royals fan since 1985) and we were fresh off the heels of a second place finish in the American League Western Division. Now, for you younger fans that sounds like a pretty decent finish, but it was actually a decline. The Royals had gone to the ALCS the 3 previous years and lost all 3 to the New York Yankees (I bet you didn’t know that the Royals/Yankees rivalry was one of the most exciting in baseball in the late 1970’s did ya?). So years went on and since my family was originally from Kansas City I sort of inherited the Royals as my own personal baseball team. I lived in Hawaii for a good portion of my youth so I didn’t make it to as many games as I would have liked. My first game was in 1986 against the Yankees. We lost. It was devastating, but it spawned a new love with frosty malts. The kind that you eat with that little wooden peanut. You know what I’m talking about. So the Royals and I grew up together. I grew more passionate about the team as years went by and they grew worse…and worse…and worse. I’ve been there from when we hired Billy Gardner to replace Dick Howser through our current guy, Trey Hillman. Which brings me to the mess we, as Royals fans, must deal with.
I was very excited when I heard we had hired Dayton Moore as our GM. He came from a rich pedigree in Atlanta where they built a dynasty through good ‘ole drafting and developing. None of this “hey, here’s $20 million a year, come play for us” mentality that’s stricken some of the most storied franchises in the league (this includes you Red Sox fans. If the Yankees are Hitler, you’re Stalin, just sayin’). The Royals desperately needed a GM that believed in the power of a healthy and stable farm system. Allard Baird completely destroyed what the Royals had built in the Herk Robinson years. Between the trades of Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye the Royals have absolutely nothing to show for that today. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. All three of these guys helped a team at least make it to the playoffs and two of them (Damon and Dye) were important cogs in winning their respective teams championship (Damon with the Red Sox in 2004 and Dye for the White Sox in 2006). Here’s what we got in return for Johnny Damon (and Mark Ellis):
Roberto Hernandez: An over-the-hill closer who had recently played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In his two years with the Royals he compiled 54 saves with a less than stellar 4.23 ERA. By the 2003 season he was playing in Atlanta. By the way, this guy was the centerpiece of the Royals end of the deal.
Angel Berroa: He spent the first two years after the deal in the minors and emerged in 2003 to help the Royals reach a winning record since the strike-shortened 1994 season. Berroa was named Rookie of the Year beating out Hideki Matsui in the closest ROY race since the 1980 season. Pretty good start huh? Well don’t get too excited, these are the Royals we’re talking about. Berroa underachieved in an over-hyped 2004 season and between 2003-2005 boasted a mind-numbing 77 errors (the most by a starting American League shortstop, mind you). By 2008 he was traded to the Dodgers in an extremely uneventful manner.
A.J. Hinch: This guy did absolutely nothing. He was a catcher…and he has initials for a first name. Regardless, he’s managing the Diamondbacks now and may or may not be any good. Who knows?
As far as the Dye trade goes, we basically rolled over and let the A’s take over on this one. This is who we got in return for arguably one of the most potent bats the Royals have ever had:
Neifi Perez: I still shiver when I think about this guy. What a horrible baseball player. Now you may say “well he won a Gold Glove with the Rockies in 2000” and to that I say “Pokey Reese, Mike Hampton, Jay Bell, and *gasp* Chuck Knoblach”. Perez was a no good shortstop who played for the Rockies before they implemented the use of a humidifier for the baseballs used in Coors Field. He batted less than .250 and he cried about being a Royal. I was ecstatic when we let him go in to free-agency at the end of the 2002 season. Good riddance. *Just a quick side-note here, Baseball Prospectus compared Perez to Derek Jeter when this trade was made. Just thought I’d throw that out there.*
The Beltran trade was actually pretty decent considering he was in a contract year and any team trading for him would basically be renting him for the remainder of the season. If you recall, Baird said at the beginning of the season that he would see how the Royals fared before he made any decisions about trading Beltran. Well, on June 24, 2004 Baird pulled the trigger on what was supposed to be a franchise altering trade. What we got out of the deal:
John Buck: He was a top prospect in the Houston Astros organization and was thrust in to the starting lineup immediately after the trade. He replaced an ailing Benito Santiago (who was recovering from a broken hand) and…drum roll please…wasn’t too bad. He ended the year with 12 bombs and 30 RBI’s, but hit only .235. Yikes. He continued that pace for the next few years and had a quasi breakout year in 2007 when he led the Royals in HR’s with 18. 18! That’s the most home runs an individual playing for the Royals in the 2007 season had. 18. I’m literally wiping away a tiny tear thinking about that embarrassing statistic. Anyway, in Bucks five seasons with the Royals he never hit higher than .247 and he had one of the worst percentages in the major leagues when it came to throwing out base runners. Nice. Buck was recently released and signed by the Toronto Blue Jays. I don’t envy the Toronto Blue Jays.
Mark Teahen: Teahen was supposed to be the gem of this deal. He was a major player in the book “Moneyball” which detailed how Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane competed with a mid-market team in a high-market league. The Royals actually took it slow with this guy. He was a corner stone for our future. We wanted him to develop a little more before we threw him in to the trenches. He debuted as the starting third baseman in 2005 and had a pretty lackluster rookie year hitting a very John Buck-ish .240 with 7 homers and 55 RBI’s. 2006, on the other hand, was a break out year for Mark. He started the season off in typical Royals fashion hitting .190 with a pair of home runs through May 4. The Royals demoted him to Omaha and recalled him a month later (sound familiar Billy Butler?). Now, I’m not sure what happened to Teahen while he was in Omaha, but he came back to the majors like he was possessed by a beast! In July alone he hit 7 homers which is unheard of if you were a jersey branded with a Royals logo. He finished the season on September 8 because of shoulder surgery, but he led the Royals in home runs with 18 (there’s that crummy number again) to go along with 69 RBI’s and a very nice .290 batting average. There were high hopes for 2006 (in fact, I drafted him
pretty early in my fantasy league that year because I was riding high on the hopes of a huge year from him). I’m not sure what happened during that offseason, but the beast that had previously inhabited Mark Teahen’s body went south for the winter and never came back. I’m not saying he was terrible, but he wasn’t what he was supposed to be. In 2007 he led the AL with 23 GIDP. That’s ridiculous. Well, we traded him this past offseason for Chris Getz and Josh Fields. I can’t wait to write about their short comings in a couple years. I would have rather kept Big Tractor. I’m going to miss him. *sniff*
Mike Wood: A waste of roster space. Also a waste of blogging space. He went 11-19 with a three year average ERA of 5.37. He retired from baseball in 2007. Way to go Allard.
So all in all Allard Baird ruined anything the Royals had going for them. We have nothing to show for trading these three superstars, but heartache and despair. And I don’t want to hear the same old, drawn out argument that the Royals couldn’t have kept these guys since they were going to cost too much because that argument isn’t valid. The Royals had every opportunity to keep those guys. They weren’t willing to bargain and pay the extra money it was going to take to make them happy in Kansas City. Instead, they spent their money on Juan Gonzalez and Benito Santiago and, God I hate to say this, Mike Sweeney. This is why I was excited for Dayton Moore. To be honest, I would have been equally happy with a monkey in a birthday hat. Anyone but Baird.
Moore has actually done a pretty decent job with what he’s had to work with. He started off in typical Royals fashion by trading the studly J.P. Howell for underachieving Joey Gathright (literally an African-American version of our new LF, Scott Podsednik). Beyond a hiccup here and there (Leo Nunez for Mike Jacobs, Ramon Ramirez for Coco Crisp, etc.) he’s done exceptionally well. The Ambiriosozixxxz$%.x.. Burgos (you try spelling his name, tough guy) for Brian Bannister deal was huge as well as the Billy Buckner for Alberto Callaspo trade. I’m a little confused with our signings of Podsednik and Jason Kendall this last offseason. I don’t know what Moore is trying to accomplish, but we won’t know until April 5 I guess. I wish them both the best of luck because as a Kansas Citian I know first hand that they will have to do much more than be average before this town will accept them as one of our own, loveable losers.
On a final note: Zack Greinke is a god. That is all.