Friday, January 30, 2009

First in a Series

So I haven't really weighed in much on the Zack Greinke deal that is now a good couple of days (4) old. But I think I am up to a certain kind of task. Basically, off the top of my head, I can see three options that the Royals had laid out before themselves. And I'm going to write a pro-piece for each option. The three options are:

  • trade Zack Greinke during this offseason or by the deadline of the 2009 season.
  • sign Zack Greinke to a contract the goes into his free agent years.
  • wait and trade Zack Greinke by the 2010 deadline or let him walk after that season or extend sometime between those two periods.
Obviously, our Royals went with Option B much to the relief of Royals Nation and many other members of the Royals blogosphere. But I'll take each stance in the three different articles in this series. So starting with Option A:

When you are a small market team everything revolves around going forward to the point that sometimes, you unfortunately have to forget about the present. In our infant years, we had to deal with trading away players like Joe Foy (a young [a year older than Alex Gordon currently is] player that was slightly above average in his one Kansas City season) for a starter that pitched 200+ innings of above average ball and this guy. After that one good season by Bob Johnson, we traded him for Patek, Dal Canton and May. We took one above average player and some spare parts and turned them into two Royals Hall of Famers, one season of good starting pitching, a good reliever and some other spare parts. It was this daring that made the Royals leap out of infancy and into the playoffs within a few short years. But it took a slight risk. And Foy broke down after that and retired shortly thereafter.

We have a good chance this year, of course, but it's going to rely mostly on unknowns and will have little to do with the players brought in by the front office. Those unknowns being, of course:

1. Are Gordon and Butler ready to truly blossom as they've been expected?
2. Can Zack Greinke at least maintain what he showed last year?
3. Is the rest of the league as weak as Royals fans like to hope?

And beyond that, we don't have many incoming players that we feel are going to play well within the next year or so and we didn't really bring in a whole lot. And while the team did improve by attempting to fill in the holes, the problem is that they didn't fill the holes--they only made them less deep. So trading Greinke--while not the best fan move--MAY have been the best move to make for the organization. The reasons it didn't work in the past is because I guess Allard thought adding Roberto Hernandez would make us 100 game winners. And he was always so insistent on adding "MLB-ready" talent to our merry men of 100 game losers and that limits the ceiling on the players you're going to get back and that's not the best way to turn around the franchise. Baird also limited the players available by insisting that they play certain positions. When he traded Dye, he just had to have a shortstop to replace Sanchez. When he traded Damon, he just had to have a young shortstop and a veteran closer. When he traded Beltran, he just had to have a third baseman and a catcher. If you're limiting the field of prospects available to you, you're less likely to get the players that can do the most for you. Considering that the MLB team was in shambles and the farm system was even worse--and considering the unknown time factor (Baird had almost two years after he traded Beltran)--if Allard had taken his time and got the best young players available no matter where they were in their developmental stage, he could have had the Royals competing in a much more realistic sense and not the fairytale 2003 sense.

While we do have a nice collection of lower minor league players, there's going to be some attrition due to ability, injury and many other things, so that's going to cut into the number of players that will turn out. The more minor league talent you have, the better chance you have at assembling a team that's going to go far and do well. Now, Moose and Hosmer are up and coming for sure...but what if we're going into their third year hoping that they're going to start realizing their potential like we are with Butler and Gordon? At best, we can hope for Moose to be ready by sometime in the '11 season with Hosmer coming up in the '12 season. They may move faster or they may move slower--and to be honest, that kind of time frame is not the norm. But you'd have to imagine that the chances of them not only being up before the typical time frame AND being able to contribute right away are pretty slim.

And who is it that the Royals have in the farm system that we can count on as "sure" bets to at least offer something in the '09 and '10 seasons? Kila Ka'aihue, a player that was basically an organizational filler before his HUGE 2008 season that saw him dominate Double-A for most of the season and Triple-A for a short spurt, and Dan Cortes, a player that was a project that still has room to grow and will probably turn into a nice third starter according to non-Royal scouts and analysts. Those are some really good prospects...but they're a continuance of the disease we've been seeing over the past two decades--too spaced out! It would be nice if we had a handful of second- and third- year players that were coming into their own as top players at the time that Moose and Hosmer and Melville and Duffy and Montgomery were coming into the league. Trading Greinke would have hurt for the foreseeable future, but could have lead to a league dominated by young Royals much sooner.

And while you can argue that Dayton Moore has done a lot for the farm system including spending a lot in the draft and adding a farm team, he has clearly neglected opportunities to bring young Royals into the upper wrungs of the minor league system. There have been a lot of missed opportunities by Dayton to put talent into Double- and Triple-A meaning that there is no bridge between the young stars of today, all of which will be hard to hang onto, and the young stars of tomorrow. The new Zack Greinke countdown is on and it's a long time until the counter reaches zero, but it will likely happen just after Hosmer's rookie season. Let's hope he challenges McGwire's rookie season home run record.


  1. Im sure C was never an option, theyd been crazy to let the deadline pass this year without extending or trading him. I still think that he is even more tradeable now with a very friendly club contract that KC could get more than what they would have gotten. Maybe Dayton reupped him with Atlantas payroll in mind.

    Francouer, Reyes, Johnson, & Schafer for Greinke would work quite nicely.

  2. Yes because trading Appier, Damon, Dye, & Beltran led to the great run of post season success in the mid-00's. Come on, Greinke is the type of player a team like KC should be looking to acquire not trade.

  3. So you think Dayton Moore would be as mediocre at obtaining talent for his best talent as Allard Baird was? I hope you read the article because it really points out the blunders that Allard Baird made. Each and every time he restricted himself by insisting on MLB-ready players with limited upside, players at set positions as if we were one decent third baseman away from winning it all or by trading for quantity over quality. All of the successful small market teams have been successful because they had waves after waves of young players continuously working their way up the system. I also have another article in mind that will discuss this using revisionist history.

  4. My comment was mostly in regard to trading proven talent for prospects but since you brought it up.....

    Baird was never given the resources or the freedom that Glass has given Moore so I really don't believe you can compare the two. Dan Glass vetoed a Randa trade to the Cubs and then there are the persistent rumors of David Glass nixing a Sweeney trade to the Angels - not too mention the tying of Bairds hands in the Dye deal.

    I don't see them doing that to Moore or him allowing it.

    Seeing the way they have let Moore do his job without getting in his way I'm willing to look at the Baird era in a whole new light.

  5. Believe me, I've been on that boat for quite a long time and I tend to agree with you. However, the facts remain that what the Royals did in that era, no matter who you want to give the blame to, didn't do what I had been advocating. They didn't put themselves in line to gather the best available talent regardless of how far along in development the player was or regardless of the position he played, they didn't make the Randa trade, they did overvalue Mike Sweeney when he was the only true hitter they had, they didn't put the organization first...

    Now, after having said that and being one of the original Royalboard posters that was willing to give Allard somewhat of a break, at least some of the General Manager's job would have to be listed as being capable of getting his boss (David and Dan Glass) to buy into his vision for the franchise. That is definitely Allard's failure whether he wanted to trade for an established closer or whether he wanted to trade for a young prospect. If he wanted it differently than what happened, which is up in the air generally not specifically, then he failed to convince ownership.

  6. No matter who the player is, how good he is or how much he is paid, this cannot be done alone. And considering how small of a core we have in place on the big league level and how far away our top prospects are, it's unlikely that there's going to be much of an overlap between the groups. Alex Gordon was the last significant rookie we've 2007. At best, Moustakas, the current top prospect, will be here in 2011, meaning he will be a rookie two years before Alex' walk year. And if he turns out the way he was originally projected, how much do you think it'll take to sign Alex Gordon and do you think they'll be able to do it?

    Not to speak out against great prospects like Hosmer and Moustakas, but had the Moore team drafted Weiters, who'll likely be up some time this year, and Smoak, who'll probably be up some time next year, the Royals would have a truly dominate offensive team when adding those two to Butler/Gordon and combining them with a staff of Greinke/Meche/Davies/Soria... But Moore has a huge wall of separation--four years--between Allard's best and his best.