This opinion piece was originally published on December 11, 2012 as part of The Weekender. It feels relevant to re-run it:
(Background: On Sunday night the Royals traded some well thought of minor league players – in the case of Will Myers, VERY well thought of – for pitchers James Shields & Wade Davis from the Tampa Bay Rays. And there was a lot of loud reaction to the move).
Let me preface this with the following: If you want to find people who think the Royals got fleeced in this trade, there is no shortage of intelligent and well thought of men who you can read, or you can simply ask the Guru (also intelligent and well thought of, but you can’t google him… that is why he’s being set apart…) for his opinion on it. In fact, based on the voices from news organizations it’s probably the prevailing thought and there’s a good possibility that they could be right. But I wanted to put the other side of this out there, because I tend to fall somewhere in the neighborhood of what Jeff Passan (formerly of the KC Star, now of Yahoo Sports) tweeted: @JeffPassan – Royals had a choice: waste another year of the core’s prime w/ no pitching or go for it now. They went. In this market, rewards take risks.
There really is no way to know, at this moment, how this trade will turn out. Will the Rays end up with key franchise players like the Rangers did when they traded Mark Teixeira to Atlanta, or like Atlanta did when they got John Smoltz from the Tigers? Will the Royals win a division title for the first time in decades? No one knows. What is known is that in 2011 the Royals had a very good offense and the pitching was bad enough to keep them in 4th place in their division. In 2012, the offense was not as good but the defense and relief pitching was good enough to help elevate them to 3rd place in a mediocre division. There wasn’t any top end starting pitching coming through the ranks any time soon and since owner David Glass thinks his #1 goal is to never land in the red (and he apparently includes his own son’s – Team President Dan Glass – fat salary as part of that number) on his balance sheet, even for a year or two (#MillionaireProblems), there wasn’t going to any way to get in the conversation on any Zack Greinke types. If the Royals were going to make a run they were going to have to raid the farm system that Dayton Moore has done a fantastic job of building. So they did.
It may work out and it may not, but what it does do is send a couple of messages that I’m very happy to see. The first message is one for the fans. The message is that we plan on competing this year for a division title. We may get it, we may not. But you can count on us competing for it. This is only the 2ndtime in the dozen years that I’ve lived here that the fans are really getting that sense going into a season. And we’re realistic. We realize that Detroit went to the World Series and has multiple MVP’s who have also won a Triple Crown and a Cy Young. We know it will be a tall order to unseat them, when they are adding another big bat like Victor Martinez’s to the middle of the lineup when he returns from injury. But we can compete, and we have a chance, and most importantly we have a hope more tangible than “we’ll be a pennant contender someday down the road”. It also sends a message to the players. It sends the message that we have expectations of each and every one of them this season. It tells them that the time is now for them to give everything they have and raise their game. From everything I’ve been reading from them, they are ecstatic to be hearing that message finally from management.
Listen… I’m not naïve. I know I’m looking for a silver lining because I’m a fan. That’s what fans do. When everyone wants to tear you down, you look for all of the reasons why it “could” work and you hold onto them, and then you get your heart broken if it doesn’t happen. All you ask is that you have some hope throughout the process. That’s what this gives. And from what I can tell, the more people keep pouring down the criticism of this move, the more it’s going to put fight into the guys, and I’m ok with that too. So regardless of how this ends up turning out I just want to say ‘Thanks’ to Dayton Moore for caring, for building us to where we are, and for giving us hope.
Dear Dayton – After just short of 2 years, let me just reiterate… THANK YOU!! #TookThePennant #TakeTheCrown #Royals
Categories: Sports General