Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Greinke. Gone.

I’ve got to hand it to Dayton Moore – I didn’t think he could do it. I didn’t think he could find anyone to take Yuniesky Betancourt off his hands, and I didn’t think he had it in him to admit he made a mistake in acquiring Yuni in the first place. And he did. Not only did Moore find a taker for Betancourt, he got four genuine prospects in return, and all he had to do was pick up the buyout on Betancourt’s 2012 contract, and throw in…oh.

A Zack Greinke trade was inconceivable in January and unthinkable in July, and became indigestible in August after Greinke first spoke out publicly about his lack of faith in The Process. As recently as a month ago, a trade was improbable, at least during this off-season, at least unless the Royals were utterly overwhelmed.

But by last Friday, it had become inevitable. In retrospect, I suspect that it was inevitable from the moment the curtain dropped on the Royals season. And I suspect that the front office knew it was an inevitability.

The fact is that Zack Greinke wanted out of Kansas City. He didn’t want out because he wanted more money or more fame or more culture. He wanted out because he wanted more wins. After seven years with the Royals, seven seasons in which the Royals never won more than 75 games and only once won even 70 games, who can blame him?

That doesn’t mean we don’t have a right to be upset about this trade, because we do. Regardless of what the Royals got in the deal, the fact that this deal had to be made at all is an Epic Fail on the part of Dayton Moore and the front office. After nearly five seasons in charge of the Royals, Moore has not succeeding in advancing the franchise even one step forward at the major-league level. In 2007, Moore’s first full season with the Royals, the team lost 93 games. This season, they lost 95 games. There are no excuses for that – not even having the best farm system in the game. The Royals had a once-in-a-decade, if not once-in-a-generation opportunity: they had a superstar player who was not seduced by the bright lights of the big cities, a player who would have been willing to wear a Royals uniform for his entire career if they would just stop sucking, and they blew it.

I love Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, but do you think they’re going to be buried in Royal Blue? Their agent is Scott Boras – do I need to say more?

So yeah, we have the right to be upset. I’m upset. I’ve got a Greinke jersey in my closet that I have no idea what to do with now. (What’s the statute of limitations on wearing that, by the way? I figure I have at least a season before I have to turn it in.) There’s no way to evaluate this trade as anything but a disaster, simply because it was made in the first place.

But, as always, the past is prologue. If we can get past our anger in the moment, and dispassionately evaluate this trade in terms of whether it serves the Royals’ best interests going forward, I can only come to one conclusion:

I think the Royals did well. Maybe even very well.

The first rumors about this trade broke late Saturday evening, with this original report from Jim Breen, a blogger (take that, mainstream media!) at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The original trade rumor had Greinke and Betancourt headed to the land of bratwurst and beer for Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, and Jeremy Jeffress. My immediate reaction, based purely on what I knew about these players – I was at a wedding – was one of disappointment. My impression was that while Moore got the shortstop and centerfielder he was looking for, the overall sum of talent was just not enough.

And then Andrew Wagner at OnMilwaukee.com reported that Jake Odorizzi was included in the deal, and that got my ears perked up. But while Twitter was erupting, the mainstream media was conspicuously silent on the trade. By the time I got home, did some more research, and went to bed around 2 AM, I found myself hoping that the trade was for real. I didn’t sleep well, and I woke up with a start at 7, by which time the Buster Olneys of the world were reporting it as fact. (This is me making an excuse for why I was zombie-tired yesterday and couldn’t write this up until today: I was so buzzed about the trade that I couldn’t sleep. Which is why I’m chiming in after everyone in the civilized world has already issued their opinions.)

Those opinions run all over the map. I have colleagues who love this trade for the Royals (Kevin Goldstein). I have colleagues who think the Royals did poorly (Keith Law and Joe Posnanski). I have colleagues who think the Royals could have done better (Christina Kahrl). I have colleagues who think the Royals did alright, considering (Joe Sheehan and Rob Neyer).

The Royals have made deals in the past that attracted such a varied response. But the reaction to the Greinke deal seems particularly schizophrenic, in that you wouldn’t pick certain people to have the responses they had. Put it this way: Rob Neyer seems to have a more positive view of the trade than Joe Posnanski. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before.

Let’s go to the tape:

Alcides Escobar, nine months ago, was the best shortstop prospect in baseball. Escobar emerged as an elite prospect in 2008, when he hit .328 in Double-A, stole 34 bases, and showed off occasionally spectacular defense, at the age of 21. In 2009, he spent the year in Triple-A and hit .298, stole 42 bases, and was, in Kevin Goldstein’s words in Baseball Prospectus 2010, “the best defensive shortstop in the minors”. He also hit .304 in a late-season audition with the Brewers.

He doesn’t hit for much power, and he doesn’t walk a lot, so he has to hit for average to be valuable. As a rookie this season, he didn’t. He hit .235, with a .288 OBP and a .326 slugging average. He didn’t even steal many bases – just 10 in 14 attempts. He was an offensive nightmare.

But he still could pick it in the field. His defensive metrics showed him to be only average – some slightly above, some slightly below – but there’s a growing sense among even professional analysts that our defensive metrics are not nearly as accurate as we’d like them to be. In particular, there’s a sense that you need multiple seasons of data to get a real feel for a player’s defense. We have more than enough data to say that Betancourt is an awful shortstop, for instance, or that Derek Jeter is terribly overrated. We don’t have enough data to say one way or the other on Escobar. Let’s just say that he’s an above-average shortstop, with the tools to be a well-above-average, borderline Gold Glove candidate in the field.

He has some off-the-field issues, whispers of family troubles and things like that, and frankly I don’t know enough about them to feel like I can speak about them with any authority. So I won’t. Particularly with Hispanic players, the language and cultural differences make it difficult for someone like me to fully appreciate what the issues are, let alone to know whether it will impact his development on the field.

There’s definite risk with Escobar. He’s a free-swinging singles hitter, and we’ve seen a lot of players who fit that description in Kansas City – and they usually don’t turn out well. But with his speed and defense, if he hits .300, he’s one of the best shortstops in the league. If he hits .235, like he did last year, then he simply replaces Betancourt as our favorite punching bag on the team (well, after Francoeur leaves).

I think he’ll hit around .270 or so. If he hits .270/.320/.360, with good speed and above-average defense, he has a chance to be the best shortstop the Royals have had in a generation. That’s not damning with faint praise – that’s damning with no praise, given what a scar that position has been for pretty much the history of the franchise. But I think he can be the starting shortstop for a playoff-caliber team.

Lorenzo Cain has a similar skill set to Escobar: he is very fast, he plays above-average defense in center field, and he’s a line-drive hitter without a lot of power. Unlike Escobar, Cain has shown a propensity for drawing walks, most notably last year, when in 84 games between Double-A and Triple-A, he walked 45 times; along with a .317 average, he managed to squeeze his OBP over .400. But after getting called up to the majors, he walked just nine times in 43 games.

Cain is different to Escobar in other ways, though. Whereas Escobar was one of the best prospects in baseball at 21, Cain is a late bloomer, largely because he didn’t start playing baseball until late in his high school career. His lack of experience caused him to fall until the 17th round of the draft, and while he hit right away, he has worked his way up the minors very slowly. He also has had some injury concerns, most notably missing much of the 2009 season (and not hitting when he did play) with a knee injury.

But he has plenty of tools, and some scouts think he can develop power – he did hit 11 homers in 2008. And also unlike Escobar, Cain is considered to have very strong makeup, is a leader in the clubhouse, and has worked very hard to develop his innate tools into the skills necessary to be a major league centerfielder.

He turns 25 in April, and that would limit his upside – he just doesn’t have the time to get much better, although his lack of experience would suggest that he’s still not a finished product. I tweeted this yesterday, but he reminds me an awful lot of a right-handed Denard Span. Span was a first-round pick, but like Cain he was a very toolsy outfielder who had a promising but inconsistent hitting record in the minors, mixing good years with bad ones, and didn’t reach the majors until everything seemed to click at the age of 24. Like Cain, Span showed hints of plate discipline in the minors, and he’s been a much more patient hitter in the majors.

Span isn’t a star, but he’s a very valuable part of the Twins’ lineup. If Cain can stay healthy, I think he can be the same thing for the Royals. He’s probably the best leadoff candidate on the team right now, although if everything goes right with Mission 2012, he’s probably a #6 or #7 hitter in the future.

Also, Lorenzo Cain is an awesome name – to this dermatologist’s ears, it sounds like a breakthrough anesthetic. “For Maximum-Strength Pain Relief: Try New Lorenzocaine!” I think I’m going to call him the Painkiller from now on.

I’ll move on to the two pitchers in a second, but I want to take a break here to address one of the main criticisms of the trade: that Dayton Moore insisted on getting a shortstop and a centerfielder in the deal. Much like Allard Baird insisted on getting a third baseman and a catcher for Carlos Beltran, and wound up with Mark Teahen and John Buck instead of actual star talent, the notion is that Moore just got the best package he could get at these two specific positions, and in so doing locked himself out of a better deal.

There’s some validity to the comparison, but only some. For one thing, the idea that the Royals only needed a third baseman and a catcher in 2004 is (and was) laughable. That was Zack Greinke’s rookie season; the other four guys who made more than 12 starts for the Royals were Jimmy Gobble (5.35 ERA), Brian Anderson (5.64), and Darrell May (5.61). The Royals got Mike Wood as the third man in the trade, and he chipped in with a 5.94 ERA. When you lose 104 games, you need help everywhere, and unlike now, the farm system was barren. The following spring Baseball America ranked the farm system as the 28th in baseball (i.e. third-worst). After Billy Butler, the #2 prospect was Denny Bautista.

The 2011 Royals may well lose 104 games, but the organization has impact prospects at quite possibly every position on the diamond – except, possibly, shortstop and catcher.

I wrote about this recently, but there comes a point where a team has to stop the process of simply collecting talent, and start shaping that talent into a workable roster. I think the Royals have reached that point. It doesn’t mean they should accept less talent in a trade just to fill those positions – but it does mean that all things equal, or roughly equal, getting a player at a position of need is better than acquiring yet another 1B/DH type who can mash.

The second point I want to make is this: by acquiring Escobar and Cain, the Royals didn’t simply fill two positions of need. They addressed the single most glaring weakness in the organization, and the potential Achilles’ heel of Mission 2012: defense.

Even before this trade was made, you could conjure up a 25-man roster for 2012 or 2013 that ought to be competitive even if the Royals don’t add a single player to the organization between now and then. (Kevin Goldstein did exactly that right here.) The roster has great hitters up and down the lineup (Hosmer, Moustakas, Myers, Butler). It has a great rotation (Montgomery, Lamb, Dwyer, and you can swap in Duffy for Greinke). It has a great bullpen (Soria, Collins, Crow, Coleman, even Hochevar).

But the one thing it doesn’t have is defense. The Royals didn’t have a elite defensive player anywhere on the field, and the up-the-middle defensive alignment was particularly weak. In fact, Goldstein left the shortstop position vacant entirely, moving Christian Colon over to second base instead. You could put Colon at shortstop, and slot Mike Aviles or Johnny Giavotella or someone else at second base.

But here’s the problem with that. Even his biggest supporters think Colon is stretched to play shortstop. He might be an average defender, maybe a touch below-average, and that’s if everything breaks right. Now, you can win with a below-average defensive shortstop, as the New York Yankees have proven. But it helps if you have a premium defender next to him to compensate. Instead, the Royals would have Moustakas at third base, who has a cannon arm but also has substandard range; and Aviles or Giavotella at second base, both of whom are bat-first players.

That’s a team where three-quarters of the infield is made up of below-average defenders. I’m not saying that a team can’t win like that. But it bears mentioning that the two Extreme Team Makeovers of the past quarter-century – the 1990-91 Braves and 2007-08 Rays – both owed their turnaround to an utterly dramatic defensive improvement. The Braves went out and signed an entirely new infield – Sid Bream, Terry Pendleton, and Rafael Belliard were all free agents signed that winter. The Rays moved B.J. Upton from second base (where he was terrible) to center field (where he was stellar), signed Akinori Iwamura to play second, traded Delmon Young for Jason Bartlett to replace Brendan Harris at shortstop, and promoted Evan Longoria to third base. The 2008 Rays actually scored eight fewer runs than the 2007 team, but they allowed a mind-boggling 273 fewer runs to score.

I have no doubt that Moore knows this – and I have no doubt that he’s aware that defense was the one missing ingredient to The Process. I’m sure it concerned him, and it should have – it has concerned me for a long time.

Not that it’s reason alone to trade your best player, but given that Greinke was being traded anyway, Moore did well to use this crisis as an opportunity to fix this problem. And in one stroke, he did. Not only is Escobar a plus defender, but this allows the Royals to move Colon from shortstop (where, despite being fundamentally strong, he simply doesn’t have enough speed) to second base (where, in the words one of one evaluator, “he could be exceptional.”) The double-play combination of Colon/Giavotella, which was weak on both sides of the bag, is now Escobar/Colon, which could be one of the best in baseball in a few years.

On top of that, the Royals got Cain, who gives them a plus defender in center field as well. Before the trade, the long-term solution in center field was Derrick Robinson, who might pan out, but might not either: he’s far from a sure thing. If he didn’t pan out, the Royals were looking at making a choice between someone who can hit but isn’t a legitimate centerfielder (David Lough, or maybe Brett Eibner long-term), and someone who can field but can’t hit (Jarrod Dyson).

Before this trade, the Royals lacked for only two things: an above-average defensive shortstop who could hit enough to play everyday, and an above-average defensive centerfielder who could do the same. They filled both those needs exactly, and now, the 2012-2013 Royals – at least on paper – don’t have an obvious weakness.

If all the Royals got were Escobar and Cain, that would be one thing, and the Teahen/Buck comparisons would ring more true. But those two represent just half of the haul the Royals got for Greinke – and while they’re the two players who figure to contribute most quickly, it’s quite possible that the other two will have a bigger long-term impact.

If you’re looking for a single reason to be interested in Jeremy Jeffress, here it is: the moment he takes the mound at Kauffman Stadium, he might well be the hardest thrower in the history of the franchise. He legitimately throws in the upper 90s, and has been clocked as high as 102. I think Mike MacDougal hit 100 on the gun a couple of times; I’m not sure anyone else in a Royals’ uniform has.

Jeffress compares favorable to MacDougal; both are fastball-curveball pitchers who are wild as sin, and who terrify hitters as much for their lack of command as their velocity. But Jeffress, I think, has slightly more electric stuff, although his curveball may not yet be as good as MacDougal’s was in his prime. He’s also considerably younger than MacDougal was at a comparable point in his development. Jeffress just turned 23; MacDougal wasn’t drafted until he was 22, and was still in the Carolina League at 23. (He didn’t convert to being a full-time reliever until he was anointed the Royals’ Opening Day closer in 2003, when he was 26.)

Jeffress is certainly the highest-risk player in the trade, because he’s a threat to lose the strike zone with every pitch. In his minor-league career, he’s walked 188 batters in 307 innings, or 5.5 per nine innings. You can’t do that in the majors and be successful unless your name is Carlos Marmol. But last year was Jeffress’ first year in relief, and his control was much better – he walked 12 batters in 32 innings in the minors, and six batters in 10 innings in his major league debut.

The risk that everyone talks about with Jeffress isn’t his control, though. It’s that he’s a pothead, or at least he was a pothead. He’s been suspended twice for having marijuana in his system, the first time for 50 games, the second time for 100 games. Rather than risk a third suspension – which would have been a “lifetime” one – the Brewers added him to the 40-man roster last season, and presto! No more suspension problem. Players on the 40-man roster can not be suspended for marijuana usage. I’m not saying that Jeffress is still lighting up; I am saying that if he wants to, he can do so without fear of repercussion.

I’m not exactly thrilled that Jeffress smokes weed, but I’m not all that worried about it either. I find it hard to get worked up over marijuana use, and this is coming from someone whose personal beliefs about intoxicants would fit better in another era – specifically, 1920-1933. I don’t want to turn this blog into a podium for NORML or anything, but I have yet to see the medical evidence that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, and I’m increasingly baffled that one product is a beloved part of our national culture, while the other is illegal.

More to the point, Tim Lincecum was arrested for marijuana possession a year ago – just after he had won his second consecutive Cy Young Award. Jeffress is hardly alone. I don’t think marijuana use among major leaguers is rampant, but it’s certainly prevalent. There’s a veteran major leaguer, a guy who’s been in the majors for over a decade, about whom the joke around baseball goes that he always packs two bags for road trips – one for his stuff, and the other for his stash. The only difference with Jeffress is that he couldn’t wait until he hit a 40-man roster to light up.

The concern I’d have about his marijuana use is whether it points to other issues, like maturity and work ethic. I’ve asked around about that, and from what I gather he’s a likeable kid, and he’s applied himself more diligently to the game over the past year. He’s not another Danny Gutierrez, who the Royals wiped their hands clean of a year ago.

Jeffress is still a massive risk, because that’s the nature of being a firethrowing reliever – they have trouble throwing strikes, and they throw so hard that they have trouble staying healthy. I’ve seen Jeffress compared to Joel Zumaya, and that says it all – good and bad. He’s certainly not a guy I’d want as the centerpiece of the deal. But as the fourth guy in the deal (and that’s how I see him) he’s a hell of a nice complementary piece.

Finally, there’s Jake Odorizzi, who is the one guy in the deal who hasn’t reached the majors yet, and therefore is the one guy in the deal that you can really dream on. Like Jeffress, Odorizzi was a high school pitcher drafted in the first round (Odorizzi in 2008, Jeffress in 2006), but whereas Jeffress relied on pure gas from the moment he was picked, Odorizzi has a more traditional starter’s repertoire: a fastball in the low 90s, a very good curveball, and a developing changeup. The Brewers brought him along slowly, not advancing him to a full-season league until this season. He was excellent in the Midwest League all season, ranking as the #8 prospect in the circuit by Baseball America after the season. He struck out 135 batters in 121 innings, allowing on 40 walks and 99 hits.

Odorizzi is from Illinois, and a lot of Illinois pitchers wind up developing better than expected owing to the fact that they don’t get a lot of reps in high school given the winter climate here (and possibly because the lack of reps keeps their arms fresh). He’s also very athletic, having played a credible shortstop in high school as well. I’ve even seen a few reports that have compared him to, well, Greinke. That’s obviously ridiculous on the surface – Odorizzi is already 20, and Greinke was in the majors at 20 – but I think that, if everything goes right, he could be a sort of Zack Greinke Lite. He doesn’t project as an ace, but he has the stuff to be a good #3 starter, maybe a #2 in a perfect world. In other words, he could be a pitcher who gives you 200 innings with an ERA somewhere in the 3.5-3.7 range.

In other words, if everything breaks right, he could be the best player in the deal. Of course, he could also miss the majors entirely, whereas the other three guys have already reached the majors. But Odorizzi is a big-time prospect; he’s not another Mike Wood or Brad Rigby, just some throw-in pitching prospect who’s included to make the deal look better. Before the trade, Baseball America ranked him as the #1 prospect in the Brewers system; Kevin Goldstein ranked him #2, behind Jeffress.

In the Royals’ system, Odorizzi is no better than the 5th-best pitcher in the system, behind the Fab Four lefties. Goldstein has indicated that Jeffress and Odorizzi would rank 8th and 9th in the Royals’ system, behind the Fab Four and the Big Three hitters (Moustakas, Hosmer, and Myers). He’s also indicated that both Jeffress and Odorizzi are Top 100 Prospects overall – meaning that the Royals now have nine of the 100 best prospects in baseball, maybe 10 if Goldstein is feeling particularly generous to Christian Colon.

The prospects are nice, but of course the point of having prospects is not to have them now – it’s to convert them into wins later. Escobar and Cain aren’t technically “prospects”, but this trade wouldn’t look any better if Cain had been called up a week later and kept his rookie eligibility.

Still, looking over the Royals’ prospect list is a nice reminder that, as painful as it is to lose Greinke, this trades sets up the organization to win as soon as 2012, and to be a potentially dominant team in the AL Central from 2013 to 2017.

The other main criticism I’ve heard about the deal, most eloquently expressed by Posnanski here, is that the Royals traded Greinke without getting a single potential star player in the deal. It is true that none of the four players they acquired have star potential. It is also true that none of the four players are throw-ins. The Royals got four players who all have a high probability of being 2-3 win players – an average everyday player, an average starting pitcher, or an above-average reliever. The Royals have Escobar under contract for five more years, Cain for six, and Jeffress (assuming he starts the season in the minors) and Odorizzi for six-plus. That’s 23 seasons of club control, for four average-plus players. Is that worth more than six seasons of a superstar? No, but unless the Angels were offering Mike Trout – they weren’t – I don’t think any of those were available.

Put it this way: if given the choice of getting one 4-win player or a pair of 2-win players for Greinke, you’d take the 4-win player, because all things equal you’d rather have value tied up in fewer players – it’s always easier to find a complementary player than a star. But would you rather have a 4-win player or three 2-win players? That’s a trickier decision to make.

The Royals didn’t get any 4-5 win players in this deal, unless Escobar can consistently hit .300, or Cain starts hitting for power, or Odorizzi’s stuff ticks up a little, or Jeffress goes back to being a starter and thrives. But they got four 2-3 win players – four guys who can be valuable members of a championship team. As Joe Sheehan wrote in his email newsletter (which you should really subscribe to, by the way), “It's easy to see all four of these guys as contributors to the 2016 World Champions; it's just hard to see any of them as MVPs or Cy Young Award winners. Then again, that's the job of Eric Hosmer and Montgomery.”

Sure, I’d rather have a package of two or three higher-end prospects. But you know what? The Royals asked for Travis Snider and Kyle Drabek, and the Blue Jays weren’t willing to budge. And it turns out Greinke didn’t want to go to Toronto in the first place.

The more details that leak out about the Greinke negotiations, the more I appreciate what Moore was able to get. Remember how Greinke fired his agents just two days before the deal was made? At the time it seemed like he made the switch because his new agent (Casey Close) had negotiated the Roy Halladay trade-and-extension with the Phillies. But Jeff Passan reported on Twitter that “Interesting Greinke note: He fired longtime agent SFX after Winter Meetings because he felt they were responsible for his not being traded.” He fired his agents because he was still a Royal – in December! Does that sound like a guy who the Royals could have gone into spring training with? Read Billy Butler’s interview with MLB.com after the trade – as Matthew Leach tweeted, “Safe to say he’s not exactly heartbroken.”

Ken Rosenthal reported that the Royals were willing to trade Greinke to the Yankees for a true potential star – Jesus Montero – along with Eduardo Nunez (the poor man’s Alcides Escobar) and another player. The Yankees declined. It’s been widely reported that the Royals were ready to trade Greinke to the Nationals, for a package of Jordan Zimmermann, Danny Espinosa, and Drew Storen (a package which I found terrifyingly light, although I strongly suspect that Derek Norris was part of the deal as well). Greinke, who had the Nationals on his no-trade list, refused to go.

The Rangers have long been rumored to be a likely landing place for Greinke, and had the prospects to make a deal. But there’s no evidence that they were willing to give up Derek Holland and/or Martin Perez – most of the rumored offerings included some version of Tanner Scheppers, Engel Beltre, and Jurickson Profar. Scheppers is very similar to Jeffress; Beltre and Profar are the centerfielder and shortstop that Moore wanted, with higher upside than Cain and Escobar – and both are still years from the majors. The Brewers offered Odorizzi; I’m not convinced that the Rangers offered a comparable fourth player.

So while it’s possible that the Royals could have done better, I don’t think it’s particularly likely. Maybe Moore could have been better served by waiting, but I don’t blame him for moving quickly – not when the situation with Greinke was quickly becoming toxic, and not when potential trade partners were being blocked by either their own reluctance to bet the farm on Greinke, or by Greinke himself.

Oh, and did I mention he got the Brewers to take Betancourt in the trade? According to Baseball Reference, Greinke was worth 24 runs above a replacement-level pitcher last season. According to Baseball Info Solutions’ +/- system, the defensive difference between Betancourt and Escobar defensively last season was…20 runs. Think about that for a moment.

While there’s tremendous difference of opinion regarding whether this trade was good for the Royals, there’s almost no argument that the trade was terrific for the Brewers. And it was. Two weeks ago the Brewers had a very talented offense, but were watching the clock tick on Prince Fielder’s impending free agency, and had two proven starting pitchers on their roster. They appeared doomed to another season of .500 baseball, with too much talent to rebuild and not enough to contend.

Doug Melvin, their GM, decided to go for it, and he deserves a ton of credit for that. He traded their best prospect, Brett Lawrie, for two seasons of Shaun Marcum. That trade was widely considered to take the Brewers out of the Greinke market, and in fact many people credited Alex Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays’ GM, with outfoxing Melvin by getting a player (Lawrie) that the Royals supposedly were interested in, making it easier for Toronto to get Greinke. Instead, Melvin found a way to get Greinke too – he simply had to part with his next two top prospects in Jeffress and Odorizzi, and two young up-the-middle players.

Now, the Brewers have the worst farm system in baseball – but they have a rotation that goes Greinke-Gallardo-Marcum-Wolf, they have a lineup that still includes Fielder and Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart and Casey McGehee, and they play in the NL Central. They’re going for it, and it’s good for baseball that they do. The Brewers have won one playoff game in the last 25 years; the only teams in baseball with fewer are the Expos-cum-Nationals and, of course, the Royals.

If we had to trade Greinke, I couldn’t ask for a better scenario than this one – Greinke being traded to the one baseball market with a smaller population than Kansas City. But for that very reason – that this trade makes the Brewers instant contenders – I strongly believe that no other team was likely to exceed this deal. I say that because no other team was as motivated to trade for Greinke as the Brewers were.

Take the Yankees and Rangers, for instance. Both teams expect to win in 2011, and wanted Greinke for that reason – but both teams also expect to win in 2013, and 2015, and 2017. Any trade they made to increase their odds of winning in 2011 has to be balanced with how that trade would affect their chances of winning down the road. Neither team has a huge incentive to mortgage their future for the present.

The Brewers, on the other hand, have a window. They have talent, but not enough talent to win. They don’t have a terrific farm system. And they have a modest payroll. If I’m Doug Melvin two weeks ago, I realize that I can either try to win now, or I can try to win in 3 or 4 years (if I’m not fired by then). But I can’t expect to do both.

Given that realization, if I’m Doug Melvin, I don’t care how much I hurt my team in 2013 or 2014 if it means I can win in 2011 and 2012. The Rangers or Yankees might be reluctant to throw someone like Odorizzi in the deal, someone who might be part of their playoff rotation in a few years. But for the Brewers, if they’ve got a chance to win now, who cares if they have to throw in Odorizzi to seal the deal? If they go for it now, they’re not going to win in 2014 anyway. If they trade Odorizzi, maybe they only win 65 games instead of 70 in 2014 – so if saying yes to Odorizzi gets Dayton Moore to say yes to Greinke, well then, damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

Call me crazy. But when it comes to the biggest transaction of Moore’s career, I think he did a pretty good job. Maybe 2011 is going to suck, or at least the first half of the season will suck. But over the next 24 months, we’re likely to see an absolutely historic transformation of this roster. And I think this trade, this awful, painful trade, has added the finishing touches to that transformation. As a Royals fan, as always, I’m hoping for the best and expecting the worst. As a baseball fan, I’m going to be fascinated either way.

The ink has dried, the scrolls have been rolled up. The Royals already had the best farm system in baseball, and now they have the best farm system in memory. Now it’s time to simply wind up the batteries and see what happens. If Moore is right, we’re in for a hell of a ride. If he’s wrong, this will be an prospect development failure of epic proportions. Either way, it’s going to be spectacular.

Let’s light this candle. I’ve waited 25 years to experience a pennant race. I can wait one more. This trade might delay the payoff a little bit. But I think it will make the payoff just a little bit sweeter as well.

(I’ll stop here, but I still have more to say, so check back here in a day or two for some more thoughts. I’ll tease you with this: you know how everyone talks about the need for the Royals to make a “Teixeira Trade”, to get the kind of prospect haul the Rangers got for Mark Teixeira? Well, I agree with the consensus that this wasn’t a Teixeira Trade. The difference is that I think it’s entirely possible that this was even better.)

55 comments:

Kansas City said...

Finally. But I guess the length and the positive assessment makes it worth the wait.

LA said...

Great as always Rany, if anyone is interested I have also posted an assessment on royalrevival.blogspot.com

Kansas City said...

Now I have read the whole thing. Great analysis. Convinces me we all have reason to be optimistic. I even hope Milwaukee does well.

Best case scenario. Greinke does well in Milwaukee, then comes back to KC in 2013 as a free agent. He is unusual enough to do it, and maybe more so if he does not do great in Milwaukee.

One question Randy did not explain is how Moore got Milwaukee to take Yuni? I saw they signed Craig Counsel as a 40 year old shortstop the next day, so maybe Yuni is just going to play against left handers. I would not be surprised if he is released before the end of the season.

I hope Moore is ready to bring up the first wave in June (or whatever date is safe in terms of not losing a year of control) and let them play.

Antonio. said...

I hope he brings them up when THEY are ready...not by some arbitrary date.

A.D. McGregor said...

I had to wait to days before I would let myself read anything about the trade. I read Mellinger's column and wanted to try. I read this, and I feel much much better. Thank you!
As Joe Posnanski said several years ago -- the mantra of a Royals fan is "hope dies hard" -- thanks to great writers like you, my hope is still alive.

Jarrod said...

Rany, I like your analysis...that being said, isn't it a bad thing when the prospect most people are excited for is the farthest away from making an impact?

Jim said...

Everyone says that this delays the Royals being legitimate contenders until 2013-2014.

I don't think the Royals will be contenders until 2013 anyway, so how did this delay that? Zack Grienke was not going to be on the roster in 2013 anyway.

What if Grienke signs an extension with the Brewers, and the 2013 World Series is Milwaukee and KC? Wouldn't that be awesome?

Even better, what if Grienke is a free agent in 2013 and signs a contract with KC? :-)

Steve said...

Love the optimism, Rany! I have been formulating my own opinion of this trade in my head since it happened. And surprisingly enough... it seems to mesh very well with yours.

I believe that Yost had some of the input regarding this since he already knew three of these kids. I know that under GMDM, the Royals have hired many smart baseball guys in the Front Office who must have also endorsed this deal. I'm sure the "homework" was done with due diligence.

I like the "not a throw-in" line because that is how I view it as well.

Lastly, well I sincerely wish Zack well in Milwaukee, I do NOT want the Royals to resign him as a FA in two years time. Why spend the $$ on him when we will need it for our own emerging stars?!?

Now, Rany, you also know that you absolutely have to give us a couple of thousand words on our projected rotation for 2011. I see a chance for failure of epic proportions which will further alienate casual fans. That is, of course, unless Teaford, Duffy, or Crow really steps up. Plus Hoch as our #1? Is Chen coming back? The rotation is scary at the moment.

Thanks for your efforts here and look forward to reading more!

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

OnePoliticalVoice said...

Rany - great article. Go back and look at Cain's minor league and 162-game average first year numbers - then compare those to Austin Jackson. They are nearly identical in both respects. Also go look at Torii Hunters numbers early in his career. Virtually no power, etc. Blossomed at 24-25. I think Hunter and Jackson are the best comps for Cain and I think he ultimately is the gem of this deal.

The Count said...

Greinke was either going to be very productive on bad teams the next 2 seasons & left via free agency, or pitched more like 2010 than 2009 and netted the Royals less later then now. Even if his trade value went up, there was still no way he would be a Royal in 2013 when the Royals will have their first possible chance to be a playoff contender. The risk of having nothing to show for Greinke in 2013 was too great to wait.

Starting with the above, getting ANY contributors to the 2013 team and beyond is a positive. Perhaps more could have been netted, but Greinke did turn down a trade to the team that has already proven willing to pay up to get their man (Nationals- Werth), and likely gave similar feedback on other teams (likely Yankees, maybe all AL teams on his no-trade list). The Blue Jays would not give up Drabek and Snider and I trust the Royals heard all real offers because, even if you want to believe the Royals are incompetent, every GM of a "competent" team that was considering Greinke realized they had to make their best offer because a trade was imminent. I think we have to accept that this trade was AT LEAST in context with the best offer available, if not the best.

The final criticism is the insistence on particular positions. As a TRUE fan of the Royals and a TRUE sports fan I see no reason to aim for anything less than the playoffs. The Royals already have the most "talent" on the way, but before this trade, they were not going to be a playoff contender because in baseball, you need all of the positions on the field and in the lineup filled. To replicate positions and even talents (i.e. middle of the lineup hitters) does not improve our chances of being a playoff team as much as actual contributors at positions of need. We NEED defense up the middle, we NEED a leadoff hitter and bottom of the order contributors, we NEED RHPs to add to the wishful collection of talent we have to be a playoff contender. We now at least have hope of fulfilling those needs. Just as we have hope that the players in the system now will live up to expectations. (If you do not realize this is not a certainty, allow me to remind you that Alex Gordon was a BETTER prospect than Hosmer, Moose & Myers... Gordon spent some time as the #1 prospect in baseball, none of the others have to date).

Redundance of talent is not helpful because with so little currently on the major league team that will contribute to 2013 and beyond, virtually all of our prospects MUST hit, JUST TO BE A CONTENDER. If Hosmer, Moose AND Myers don't work out and if at least 3 of the SPs don't click, we are not contending anyway.

This is all a long-winded way of saying, in my opinion:
1-Trading Greinke now was the right move.
2-I trust we got just about as much as we could get.
3-Trading for 2013 needs was the right thing to do with the goal being to compete in 2013 & beyond, not just to win more games.

Now we can all go to sleep for 2 years and wake up to news that the RF fence was moved in to cater to our lefty sluggers and our LHPs that all are ready to produce on the MLB level. If nothing else, this trade has given me the patience to wait until 2013. Expectations beyond that from the Greinke trade are misled.

George said...

"But for that very reason – that this trade makes the Brewers instant contenders – I strongly believe that no other team was likely to exceed this deal. I say that because no other team was as motivated to trade for Greinke as the Brewers were."

Yep. As details have come out following the trade I'm astonished that DM got nearly the haul he did given how thin the market was. We now know that the Nationals weren't and option and that Toronto wasn't an option as well. In fact, I believe that AA and DM conspired to drop all those Toronto leaks to try and spook a reluctant Yankees to overcome their concerns about Greinke's makeup and dump Montero et al for him.

So who, exactly, was IN the negotiations??? We've heard hints about the Dodgers, some hints that the Twins made a run and were tolf to go away...but I have a sneaking suspicion that the real market for Greinke could have been as low as TWO teams:

The Yankees and the Brewers. And when the Yankees refused to be drawn on the AA/DM bluff the Brewers ended up not understanding the negotiations and paid too much.

Tim said...

I have an idea to make the 2011 season more tolerable: assuming it hasn't been done already, we need to predict the most likely 2012 25-man roster and starting line-up, rotation, bullpen roles, etc (sort of like Law's link in this article), and create a daily or weekly stat tracker for that hypothetical roster. So after watching a terrible at bat by Melky or Frenchy, we could turn to the computer and see the latest on how Team 2012 is doing. It's not perfect since some are already in the majors and some in the minors, but framing it as the 2012 roster might make it more interesting than the usual weekly prospect watch or what have you. I see it as the only way to make the 2011 season at all palatable.

Kyle said...

Great read as usual. I am very optomistic about the future. This sures up the middle defense. Colon at 2B will be better than SS, but I was really hoping to see the next Dan Uggla (Giavotella) at 2B for a year or 2. I hope that Escobar hits enough to stay in the lineup, but I am worried that he is TPJ.

The return for Greinke, probably couldn't have been better from any other team. Although, Greg Schaum over at royals prospect dot com got me really excited about possible trade scenerios. So the haul didn't look as good at first glance.

2011 doesn't have to be as ugly as everyone thinks. The rotation is a disaster, but the defense, offense, and bullpen will all be better than last year. Escobar is 20 runs better than Betancourt, right? Cain, Gordon, and Francoeur are as good or better than whatever combination they threw out last year. Especially Pods, Ankiel, and Maier, I know Ddj was good, but I like the moves.

Jeremy McNeal said...

Thanks for the article Rany, it's great as always.

You mentioned that Escobar is roughly 20 runs better than Yuni. What about Cain over Melky? That seems like another 20 runs of improvement.

Hard to say the Royals will be anything like good with their expected 2011 rotation, but I like the defensive projections.

I'm not sure what happens to all the money the Royals just saved in 2011. The only player with a substantial contract is Meche.

Also, 2011 is a great opportunity try starting Soria. If his ERA jumps to 3.15; then he makes a solid Ace for us. Meche can handle closing games. He's proven he's good in 1 inning situations.

kcghost said...

I'm not buying any of this. To me it is just another example of GMDM screwing the pooch. You got two defense first guys who will never hit, a hop head reliever, and a starter who is three years away and projects to be a #3 if the cards fall right.

If anybody calls you up and says I will give you two years of an ace starter and all you have to do is give me the four guys you got from Milwaukee you'd make that trade so fast your head would spin.

Next year he will be trading our real prospects to fill these same two holes (CF & SS).

twm said...

Painkiller is a great nickname!

Mark said...

Ah, didn't they just sign Melky Cabrea to play centerfield?

Where does that leave Cain?

Kyle said...

Cabrera will not get PT over Cain. If he does, I might shoot things.

kcghost, I don't think you understand how little was being offered. No one wanted the headcase that is Zack Greinke. To get 2 players that will imediately impact the defense and a 3rd that will impact the bullpen. Odorizzi projects as a #3, he has the upside of a #2.

Kansas City said...

KCGhost is tough.

It seemes to me that, once a trade like this generates a decent return (which even critics probably would have to concede), then it becomes very difficult to reasonably criticize the trade without knowing what else was available. All of baseball knew Greinke was available, so interested buyers presumably made their offers. It is hard to criticize wihtout knowing what those offers were.

One way to assess the trade would be to compare it to recent examples of pitchers trades for prospects. It seems to be as good and potentially far better than those deals at this point.

Overall, Yuni is gone and baseball is a game of hope. We have four players to watch over the next few years with hopes, along with the wave. We have good reason to be hopeful and positive about the Royals. We also still can watch with interest how Greinke does in Milwaukee (my guess is very well).

Like I said, I would not be surprised to see Greinke back in Kansas City in 2013. I hope Moore planted the seeds for that in his private discussions with Greinke.

twm said...

Three years from now we might be looking back at this trade as a massive "win" for KC. And that is what has me excited. Sure, none of these guys is going to come into KC and light the world on fire right away, and maybe none of them ever will. But all four look like solid contributors with the potential upside of becoming all-stars.

Even if these guys don't pan out, I like the aggressiveness here; find guys with good upside but some risk, bring them in and let them play.

For all the hand wringing over Escobar's bat, you would think he was a ML veteran with no history of success. But the kid is one year removed from being a top-15 prospect. So he failed to impress in his rookie campaign. Goodness me, let's run him out of town with pitchforks and torches. Settle down a bit, take a breath, and realize that the Brewers just sold low on a guy who could be a plus player at SS. If Escobar fulfills his defensive potential and turns into a gold-glove candidate with an empty 270 at the plate, I'll take it, Frank White Lite-style.

And kcghost, I think your assessment of Odorizzi is too pessimistic. After his breakout 2010, most scouts are grading him out as a B+ prospect, which is equivalent to guys like Kyle Drabek. Because he is further from the majors he is more of a risk, but if he maintains his current success through the upper minors, he could be a top-20 prospect in two seasons. That is exciting.

There is more to say, but this comment is already too long. Mostly, I want to say, be excited people, these kids should be lots of fun to watch.

Nall Hills Baseball said...

How hard did Ambiorix Burgos throw? I thought he threw 100+ on occasion... of course it was right down the middle...

Does "Ambiorix" mean "gives up easy home runs to left and right handed batters"?

Michael said...

Mark, I believe this pushes Melky to number 4 outfielder, and Maier to either AAA or cut.

And kcghost, why all the negativity?? We got the Brewers top 2 prospects (after they traded Lawrie), their top prospect from last year (Escobar), and another top 10 prospect from last year (Cain).

You may have doubts about Escobar and Cain, but a lot of people around baseball don't. Most don't expect Cain to hit as well as he did last year, and most also expect Escobar to hit better than he did last year. Neither has much in the way of power, but both have speed and excellent defense, which are 2 things that our much ballyhooed prospects lack. Other than Hosmer, none grade out as above average defenders (unless you move Colon to 2B, maybe).

Bill James' projections for Lorenzo Cain next year: .279/.345/.379 with 33 stolen bases.

Alcides Escobar: .272/.318/.364 with 20 sb's.

Add in their combined UZR150 of 12.3 from last year, and that's not bad. Not bad at all. Especially considering our starting SS and CF last year (Betancourt and Ankiel) were a combined -10.7, that's quite an improvement right there! And I doubt we'll miss their bats all that much either.

So that's an extra 2-3 wins per year based solely on their defensive abilities.

Cheer up man, because lets be honest, it can only get better from here!

John Buenger said...

Great article, it's always nice to here some positive reviews of the Royals. I completely agree with you that this trade is disappointing only in the sense that it had to be made. I am patiently awaiting a good baseball team in KC, but am resigned to the fact that it is still a few years away. Quite frankly I think GMDM is as well. I just don't think he has paid much attention at all to the MLB team other than to find and flip talent to rebuild the minor league system.
Even though we have been through several "rebuilds," there has never been a rebuild like this. This is what they should have been doing since Mr. K died, and I hope it continues long after the Hosmers, Mustakis, Lambs, Duffeys, Crows, Montgomerys, Meyers of the world are in KC.
If all of these guys "hit" as The_Count says they will only be contenders?
If all of these guys "hit" they will be dominate, and Roayls fans will fill the K.
Good luck to Greinke, but remember, St. Louis still has Carpenter, Wainwright, Holliday, Garcia, and.....oh yeah, Pujols!

Sandpuppy said...

FWIW, here's what Yost had to say about Cain's playing time in the KC Star:

“He’s a center fielder,” Yost cautioned, “but we’ll see where it fits in. I’m not projecting anything right now. We’ve signed Melky Cabrera (to play center field), and Lorenzo Cain only has (147) big-league at-bats.”

Bryan said...

Excellent writing and analysis. Very thorough and well thought out.

I have always enjoyed reading your blog but I would generally give you an epic fail on nickname giving.

However, the painkiller is a home run.

Thanks for doing what you do and I will look forward to your thoughts on the rotation. Can't they get Webb or anyone else to help especially with the extra money now available?

Sean said...

What happended to the management philosophies of a few years ago? You know when we were out bidding ourselves for the likes of Kyle Farnsworth and Juan Cruz? You know when GMDM was threatening KC employees with their jobs if any speculations or rumors leaked about what guys they were in on? I wish this Greinke situation could have stayed in house to give us the leverage that trading a “Greinke” for equal value requires. I do believe we got pigeon holed into a Baird situation. Requiring only up the middle help (which I know we need) definately limited the trading partners. I guess I just wish the whole thing was handled differently. This was way too public and dramatic.

twm said...

I am curious what would have made this trade a success for the naysayers.

Drabek and Snider was something that people got excited about. But Toronto made it clear they were uninterested in that, and Greinke wouldn't waive his no-trade clause for Toronto anyway.

Montero, Gardner, Nunez and Banuelos would have been awesome, but NY didn't even want to do Montero and Nunez (with the possibility that Banuelos was also included in that proposal). What if DM had asked for only Montero and some filler, and NY had said yes, would people have been happy?

Trout would have been great, but the Angels aren't really shopping for pitching, and getting even if they were, giving up Trout seems unthinkable. Plus, who else would have come over with Trout? If it was just Trout and some filler, would people have been happy?

Who is it that people feel we missed out on here? And what sort of players would the naysayers have been happy with?

Rick said...

I can't add anything to Rany's excellent analysis of the four prospects or to many of the very good comments posted above.

I will say that I'm not a Greinke fan and I'm happy to see him go. He is obviously an awesome talent, but I don't believe he has the mental makeup to be consistently good over an extended period of time. I just can't forget some of the quotes that were attributed to him when he temporarily quit baseball with his social anxiety disorder a few years ago, especially the one where he said that he wanted to be a hitter so badly that sometimes he would go to bed at night, holding his bat and crying.

Good grief, Zack. You've got a beautiful wife, and you're making millions of dollars playing a game. Get over it!

Now that I got that out of my system, I'll say that I think Dayton Moore moved him at exactly the right time. Greinke would have undoubtedly hurt his trade value if he had pitched another year in Kansas City with the same inconsistency of effort that he showed in 2010.

I say good riddance to Greinke, and good job by Dayton Moore to get a decent return for him. Hopefully this trade is an indication that Dayton Moore has learned from some of his obvious mistakes as a trader at the major league level.

Phil LeBlanc said...

Must have been one hell of a wedding =)

Phil LeBlanc said...

"He said that he wanted to be a hitter so badly that sometimes he would go to bed at night, holding his bat and crying."

Please share where you heard that one. Sounds, how do you say, exaggerated...

kevin said...

Rany, I concede you know a hell of a lot more about baseball and these players than I do. But, you and many others seem to assume that all of these players in the Royals "great farm system" are guaranteed to succeed in the majors. I don't see how that happens. It is simply against the odds. Count me as a continuing Dayton skeptic.

kevin said...

BTW, yes, it's great we got rid of Yuni, but didn't we still have to pay his salary anyway?

twm said...

Kevin: We sent Milwaukee $2 million. Betancourt is owed $4 million this year, and has a $6 million club option for 2012 with a $2 million buyout. If you want to assume that the money is all tabbed for Yuni, we either paid half his 2011 salary or all of his (likely) 2012 buyout.

But that isn't the point of getting rid of Yuni: his salary was not onerous; it was his defense that cost us so much.

drewfuss said...

Rany, my good man... all those words and you didn't once: (1) indicate zack was a "headcase"; (2) indicate he owed the royals indefinite use of his pitching services for not releasing him while he addressed a medical condition; (3) indicate that not wanting to pitch for the royals was an indictment on his morality, courage, patriotism, and love of the game; or (4) indicate that he was a selfish prima-donna that didn't deserve this town anyway, thanks.

Good job.

Nathan said...

I like this move, in part, because Mission 2012 was always wishful thinking. Even great players don't immediately dominate at the MLBlevel, so even if Moustakas, Hosmer, Montgomery and Lamb are in the Majors in 2012, it's a little crazy to think they'll contend. More likely, Billy Butler will be surrounded by a bunch of .650 OPS rookies, and all the fans will be moaning about how our prospects are AAAA guys.

Think about Carlos Beltran and Mike Sweeney for a moment. It just takes time for top prospects to become top players. 2013 is more realistic, but even in 2013 these guys won't all be stars.

Since Greinke will be gone by 2013, when these kids can contribute, it makes sense to trade him now. This would be true even if he never said a word about wanting out.

Bolivar said...

I like this trade as well. I think even without his frustration it was simply a matter of Greinke's 'window' not aligning with the teams. Further, who is to say that 2010 was a fluke and not the new normal for Zack?

These young guys all show upside for the future. In the short term though, I'm not sure we should write off Aviles at SS.

Interesting to see how Escobar compares to Aviles at the SS position:

Hitting stats for 2010:
Escobar: .235/.288/.326 4hr 10sb
Aviles: .304/.335/413 8hr 14sb

Fielding @ SS:
Escobar: UZR/150 4.7
Aviles: UZR/150 24.0 (2008)

I realize Mike is 5 years older. We also know that Aviles didn't display much power in 2010 until late season when he felt his arm was completely recovered.

Nathan said...

Bolivar, I agree about Aviles. For now, he is probably the team's best 2nd baseman, though.

Todd said...

What happened to Tim Melville? How did he go from a top 5 prospect in 2010 but not in the top 11 in 2011?

Dave Farquhar said...

Phil LeBlanc, the story about Greinke crying himself to sleep holding a bat in his hands appeared either in the KC Star, or in one of their authors' blogs (Poz or Mellinger). I don't remember exactly where I read it, but I definitely remember it too.

Todd said...

I should clarify, as I read Randy's articles I re-read and review the embedding links. According Baseball Prospectus (BP) I noticed the discrepancy of ranking of Melville for 2010 vs 2011. I haven't seen anything regarding the drop, thus my inquiry.

twm said...

Todd: Part of Melville's drop is, I think, because he had a rough year. But part of it is also that guys like Dwyer, Duffy, Lamb and Giavotella had such good seasons. Also, Colon and Eibner, both drafted last season, have probably passed Melville on most lists.

In a sense, the farm system just got stronger, rather than Melville really losing much stock as a prospect.

Chris said...

Great work Rany! I waited till the kids went to bed so that i could read this unfettered.

Go Royals!
CM

resipsa31 said...

First of all great blog. But you Royals fans are drinking the kool-aid. This is a fire-sale, plain and simple. You can't call it a fire sale in the era of revenue sharing though, so the Royals call it a "youth movement" so the fans won't get too up in arms unless they actually think about it. After this trade and the DeJesus trade the ownership is now pocketing over 16 million they werent't counting on before, and lets be honest, the Royals werent spending $$ before. They then aren't redistributing this $$ to a major league payroll because there is a "youth movement" going on. They will even pocket even more $$ next year I would assume. I know the farm system is ranked high, but all prospects are in A and AA, and no one can think all those prospects will work out. If they do, they are ignoring history. At best, of the 20 your team is counting on to contribute, half will be servicable MLB players, while 2-3 will be all-stars. Again, that's at best. Where are the rest of these positions coming from to carry this team into the glorious year of 2012 that you all are counting on? Jeff Francouer? Not trying to hate, but you are being led down a false premise of a youth movement so that the owner can pocket a few million dollars for the next few years. When the Royals aren't winning in 2014, he will fire the GM, blame him for the failure, and start again. Wake up people.

resipsa31 said...

Royals 2011 projected lineup is arguably one of the worst ever. Butler is the only hitter you can say is a legit MLB hitter at this point. Pitchers arent any better. Good closer though, so that should make a difference the 30 games there is a save situation. Glad the Royals are spending their share of the revenue on players like Francouer instead of actual talent.

twm said...

resipsa31: Ummm, do you remember when Greinke asked to be traded? I am generally just as suspicious of KC's motives as the next guy, but I cannot understand how, in this instance, people might view the trade as a salary dump. Greinke wanted out of KC, what can you do in that situation if you are DM? I agree with Rany, it angers me that the teams is so horrible that Greinke would ask to be traded, but unless you feel that DM's failure to surround Greinke with any kind of winning ball club was orchestrated to save money on the backend of Greinke's contract, this wasn't about salary. And if you do believe that, well, you probably wear an tin foil pyramid on your head and worry about secret government mind control programs using radio towers and drinking water.

Kyle said...

resipsa31, I agree, this is a bit of a fire sale. But it was the right time to do it. Going into "Mission 2012", they have no real money on the books. 30 players on the 40 man roster will be making close to league minimum. Which hopefully means they have some money to spend on one BIG FA hitter and one BIG FA starting pitcher.

The thing is, they are just waiting on about 20 guys for the first wave. There are 2 more waves to follow that. They are at least 2 deep at every position. And there are about 15 starting pitchers that are having a really good time in the minors.

Rick said...

Resipsa: This was not a fire sale. That should be obvious because of Greinke's demands to be traded and the very real possibility that if he weren't traded, he would be worthless next year in a Royals uniform. Greinke has already shown that he doesn't pitch worth a damn when he's not motivated and interested, and this is a guy who already walked away from the game once. I'd rather trade him while he still has good trade value.

I understand the frustration you feel about the Royals failures for the last two decades. I feel it too. I've been an avid Royals fan since Opening Day of 1969. I've seen all of the good times and the terrible times, and nobody is more upset about the failures of the last 20 years than I am. But you can really only hold Dayton Moore accountable for what has gone on during his tenure. You can't blame him for the trades of Damon, Dye or Beltran or point to those trades and say the Greinke trade is just more of the same. It's not. A different guy pulled the trigger, and his motivations were entirely different.

And while there is CERTAINLY plenty to criticize about what Dayton Moore has done at the major league level, there's no denying that he has worked miracles with the minor league system.

I'm willing to forgive a few botched trades (and no, the Greinke trade is not one of them) if he establishes a steady pipeline of quality players through the minor league system. I don't know about you, but I enjoy reading in multiple places that the Royals current minor league system is so loaded with prospects that even the Royals couldn't screw it up.

That's really the only chance the Royals have to be competitive in the long run, and it's an entirely different situation from what we've been faced with over the last 20 years.

Michael said...

Apparently recipsa31 is not a Royals fan. They put words like "you Royals fans", clearly disassociating themselves from us. My guess is they are a Yankees fan who was upset when they found out that their team had to pay 18 million for the luxury tax. In my opinion, if only they and the Red Sox had to pay the luxury tax, then the threshold is too high.

Recipsa obviously pays no attention to the day to day operations of the Royals, so they probably had no idea that Greinke stopped throwing his slider because he didn't care himself about winning. He can complain all he wants about the organization, but it's because of players like him that they don't win. If he cared so much about winning, he'd be doing everything in his power every 5th day to bring home a W, and he didn't do it.

Recipsa also probably didn't hear about all the repeated desires of Greinke to be traded, nor the official trade request last weekend. Nor that he fired his previous agent because he hadn't been traded during the Winter Meetings. There is no way this person knew all of this, or otherwise they wouldn't have written such stupid, inane garbage like they did.

The Count said...

Rany, Can you please include some discussion about the "other" player KC receives in this trade, the PTBDL(Player To Be Drafted Later) with the 1st pick in 2012 KC will surely obtain by sending out that pitching staff in 2011? Is there a Strasburg/Harper in that draft? Thanks.

Michael said...

Also, recipsa, if you want to look at a team just taking in money and keeping it for themselves, look no further than the AL East and the Tampa Bay Rays. There's no way they aren't going to pocket money hand over fist with a payroll around 40 mill this year.

Lance said...

In the 1980's K-State head football coach Jim Dickey came up with a plan. His teams were terrible. So he asked his entire senior class to redshirt. To stay an extra year. He sacrificed the upcoming season to try to win the next. And, at least for one year, it worked! K-State went to their first ever bowl game. Dayton Moore and Zack Greinke have devised their own plan. Zack leaves now and brings the Royals four young players. He has a chance to get some playoff experience in Milwaukee. Then, in 2013, just as the first 'wave' of young Royals talent arrives in KC, Greinke returns. It is brilliant! It is a well-thought-out conspiracy. Much like BYU football players, Zack is going on a 'mission' to serve the Royals' long term cause. I love it.

Rick said...

I'm not rooting for Greinke to return as a free agent in two years. If he doesn't want to part of the building process, then I don't want him here.

Let him address his social anxiety issues and lack of effort in some other town.

Antonio. said...

1. Part of being a competent GM is taking advantage of those who are not competent.
2. Our prospects are still too far out to really pen in our 2013-14 line-up, so to say we needed up-the-middle defense more than say a 1B/DH bat is folly. Get the best you can get everytime and sort out the rest later. If we added Montero to a supposed triumvirate of Butler/KK/Hosmer, then you have left room for attrition, injury as worse case scenarios but can also trade to fill in weaknesses at a later time. What happens now if Butler never becomes a power threat and Hosmer damges his wrist a la Nomar? What if Myers moves to the outfield and Perez doesn't become capable of hitting enough? What if Crow continues to falter and Hochevar doesn't develop? We're left with one guy, years out.

Antonio. said...

Two unpopular questions:

Would Zack ask for a trade if they didn't give away DDJ?

If Zack believed the Royals management and players weren't trying to win, why would he? Even Roger Dorn started playing well when the team rallied together.

slowpitch said...

Rany and other Royals fans:

As a Brewers fan, we have lots in common.....mostly years of losing, a small Midwest market, etc. It was painful to see the Brewers "give up the farm", but on the other hand they really, really, needed pitching and weren't going anywhere without it (watching the team score 8 or more runs and lose happened far too many times the past couple of years). Yes, I'm glad we got Grienke.

However, let me tell you what you got after having watched all four of these guys the past couple of years.

Lorenzo Cain: Atlanta wanted this guy in a trade for one of their their young pitching studs and Milwaukee wouldn't bite. This guy is high energy with all of the tools. Check-out this catch from last season: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=11557855

Alcides Escobar: didn't live up to expectations in his first year of full time duty, but he's fun to watch. He usually makes his errors on the routine plays, but that will improve with time (basically a lack of concentration). He does make the exceptional play:
http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=6637957
As good as he was in the field, he at times looked lost at the plate. This was somewhat surprising as he led the Dominican Winter League in hitting last year.

Jeremy Jeffress: Big time power arm. The talk of the AFL Rising Stars game for this: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=12973627

Pitched for the Brewers in September and was very good when he had his control. If not traded, looked for him to be the 8th inning guy in 2011.

Jake Odorizzi: Saw this guy pitch in Appleton for the T-Rats. Young, but easily the best minor league arm in the Brewers system.

I will be shocked if these guys don't help the Royals in a big way. Three of them will contribute significantly in 2011. I'm sure many of the Brewers' fans will be watching the Royals. We're glad to have Zack, but please know you got some good ballplayers in return.