- 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.
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.