As fans, when we looked ahead to the 2013 season, there were two names that topped our list of players we were anxious to see contribute full time: WIl Myers and Jake Odorizzi.
Granted, both these prospects were likely to open the season in Triple-A, but they were the two remaining impact prospects from what I call Phase One of The Process. Myers was stolen in the third round of the 2009 draft. He was first round talent, but his demands scared everyone off. Odorizzi was the key arm the Royals received in the Zack Greinke deal. Both spent time in Triple-A last summer. Both had success. Both were knocking on the door to The Show.
Now they're gone.
This is the first time since The Process started in earnest that Dayton Moore has moved a prospect chip in exchange for big league talent. This means he's going for it.
But can he afford to go for it? This is a move that smells of desperation. Sure the Royals rotation was awful in 2012, but don't forget the Royals offense was not good last summer. They scored 4.17 runs per game. That was third from the bottom in the American League. We know what happened... No need to rehash. But the offense was miserable. What this trade signifies is that Dayton Moore believes last season was an anomaly. He thinks that Eric Hosmer will rediscover his stroke. That Mike Moustakas will progress. Sal Perez will continue to overachieve with his bat. Alex Gordon and Billy Butler will continue to be solid contributors. And Jeff Francoeur won't suck as much as he did in 2012.
I'm assuming the rotation goes Shields-Guthrie-Santana-Davis-Chen. If you insist on breaking things down by role, you have a number two, three number fours and a five. It's a rotation that will eat innings, and occasionally, eat too much and throw them up all over themselves. This is not the rotation of a contending team. It is a rotation of a team that hovers around .500.
So here's the question we have to ask: Are the Royals better from this trade? For the 2013 season, yes, I think this team is better. The rotation is improved and I can see a scenario where the Royals recover offensively and add a few more runs to their 2012 total. That could get them to 78 wins. I'm seeing 81 as the maximum from this team in the aftermath of the trade.
However in the short-term, this is a distressing deal. We have a tendency to overvalue our prospects, so let's say Odorizzi could be Wade Davis version 2.0 as far as value. That is, a back of the rotation guy. But the marquee names... Shields and Myers. I'm not going to lie... This hurts.
Shields is a good pitcher, but he's not a front line starter. He's just not. He's nice to have on your staff, but he's not the number one guy.
I'm now hearing that the Royals never bought Myers ceiling that the prospect mavens and Pop-Tart Brigade were buying. He's been kind of an odd duck in the minors in that he doesn't really hang with his teammates, choosing to do his own thing. Whatever. I do know the kid can hit. And he's put up strong numbers in every season he's been healthy. And there's not a doubt in my mind that he would be better than Francoeur. Much better.
There's another part of this that hurts. The Royals essentially stole Myers in the '09 draft. That was the pinnacle of Moore's tenure with the Royals. An owner willing to put cash in the draft and a savvy general manager and scouting department that took advantage of the system. The Royals don't win anymore, but they won the '09 draft with the Myers selection.
Now that's gone.
This move is from a General Manager who is, as I've noted before, on the hot seat. His contract runs out in 2014 and the clock is ticking. He's had a longer tenure than Allard Baird with less major league success. Dayton Moore is fighting for his job. When that happens, you sacrifice the long term plan for the short term gain. Yes, we are talking about dealing away prospects in Myers, Odorizzi and Montgomery. Unproven players. No, Wil Myers alone wasn't going to get the Royals to the postseason in 2013, but he was a piece of the puzzle that would have definitely improved the team. And regardless of what the Royals think, I've heard plenty of scouts who feel that Myers has the most offensive upside of the Royals big three bats.
Although they may improve in the win column in 2013, this is a losing trade for the Royals.