We are now at the saturation point of the coverage of the Wil Myers Trade. But as I was thinking about the deal this week (in between visions of sacrifice bunts and character) I realized this deal was fraught with symbolism. About the GM we thought we were getting when Dayton Moore signed on. About the philosophy of a small market team that habitually cries poverty. And about The Process.
These are my ramblings...
The Symbolism of Wil Myers
Turn back the clock to the 2009 draft, and Wil Myers, coming out of Wesleyan Christian Academy in North Carolina, was one of the top prospects available in the draft. Held as a first round talent, he had committed to the University of South Carolina, yet frightened teams with his high bonus demands. Still, Baseball America's Jim Callis projected him going as the thirtieth overall pick - ironically, to the Rays.
However on draft day, Myers tumbled. The rumor ahead of the draft was Myers was demanding a bonus in the neighborhood of $2 million - which was top 10 money in 2009. As he fell down the draft board, it became clear no team was willing to risk a late first round selection on a player who would either cost a ton of cash or who would think nothing of delaying his indoctrination to the professional ranks for a collegiate career. The first round turned into the supplemental round, then onto the second round and through the second supplemental round. Myers remained on the board.
It was the talk of the draft. Baseball America ranked Myers as the 31st best player available. As the day progressed, the conventional wisdom was Myers priced his way out of the top rounds and would probably use that baseball scholarship waiting for him at USC.
Rumors had the Royals considered taking Myers with the 12th overall pick, but instead went with Aaron Crow. They didn't have a selection in the second round, so they were on the sidelines until the third round and the 91st pick.
The Royals selected Myers. It was a bold move... The scholarship, the bonus demands... But the fact was, the Royals snagged a first round talent in the third round. It was a drafting coup. Like going on a blind date expecting Lindsay Lohan and instead finding yourself in the company of Kate Upton.
Myers signed just ahead of the August 15 deadline for his sought after bonus of $2 million. Major League Baseball's "recommendation" was $380,700. For the Royals to both take the risk that they could sign Myers and aggressively blow past the slot was a sign that this wasn't the old David Glass. At least the David Glass that meddled in the draft. Remember the guy who mandated his team draft only college seniors and offer them a $5,000 bonus? He was gone. Or at least taking a bathroom break. This was an owner who now trusted his General Manager and his scouting department. Do you think Allard Baird could have made this pick just three years prior? Not on your life.
By rights, Myers shouldn't have ever been available to the Royals after they made their first round selection. By reputation, the team shouldn't have taken Myers knowing his steep demands... Let some other team deal with that headache. Call it good fortune, call it karmic repayment for past misdeeds. Call it whatever you like, this was a new Royals philosophy on display. And it was a wonderful sight to behold.
The early days of The Process were heady times. As Dayton Moore and his scouts stockpiled young talent, Myers became the emblem of the bold, new Royals. They felt they couldn't compete in the free agent market and they didn't have value they could deal, but they could aggressively scout and spend in the draft. And they did. It yielded nine players on Baseball America's Top 100 list ahead of the 2011 season. (That list had Eric Hosmer at eight, Mike Moustakas at nine and Myers at 10. A veritable Murder's Row of hitting prospects.) The Royals laid claim to the Best System Ever.
Times have changed. The new collective bargaining agreement severely limits the amounts teams can spend on the draft. No longer can the Royals set the pace. The Best System Ever™ has delivered little at the major league level. Wil Myers was the type of prospect the Royals needed for success. His selection was a bold - and fortuitous - move by a previously penurious regime. It signaled a new direction and was supposed to represent a turn of fortune for our lovable, yet downtrodden club.
And now Wil Myers is gone.
The Symbolism Of Jake Odorizzi
Prior to Sunday's trade, Dayton Moore had made only a single "blockbuster" deal in his tenure as Royals General Manager. In December of 2010, he sent Zack Greinke to Milwaukee in exchange for four players: Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress, Alcides Escobar and Jake Odorizzi.
The Royals cut ties with Jeffress earlier in the winter. Cain remains a question mark due to his inability to stay on the field and out of the trainer's room. Odorizzi is now in Tampa. That leaves Escobar as the lone (current) highlight from the Greinke deal. It's good to have a slick fielding shortstop and his bat showed well last summer, but that wasn't the net we imagined when rehashing this trade a year ago.
Odorizzi was never going to replace Greinke in the rotation. You just don't replace that kind of talent. But the thought was Odorizzi could be a solid mid to back end of the rotation starter.
Using the Greinke deal as a marker, it's difficult to look back at this trade and think that the Royals did well in their dealings with the Rays. Greinke and Shields both had two years remaining on their deals. Yet Greinke was the younger and superior starting pitcher. The Royals were able to get four prospects, but the Brewers farm system was thin after dealing with the Blue Jays for Shawn Marcum. The players the Royals received were thought to be prospects in the order that they could all become solid major league contributors, but none were supposed to develop into All-Stars.
Quick sidebar: I'm not complaining about the haul the Royals received. At the time, it was great. In the 2010 prospect handbook, Escobar was rated the Brewers top prospect. Cain and Odorizzi were eighth and ninth respectively. Such is the nature of prospects.
We have been burned by bad "megadeals" before. I don't think I need to remind anyone of the Carlos Beltran deal. Ugh. That was a zero.
Greinke was the last starting pitcher of quality the Royals developed. The idea behind his trade was, it would hurt the rotation in the short-term, but with Odorizzi and the plethora of young arms in the system, reinforcements weren't that far in the distance. We know now, that's not happening. The roll call of failed or delayed prospects is frustrating... Danny Duffy is out until midseason 2012. Chris Dwyer is ineffective. John Lamb's rehab from Tommy John was delayed due to ankle problems. And Mike Montgomery will get the change of scenery he so desperately needs.
Odorizzi doesn't project to be more than a number four starter, but he was the keeper of the hope that the Royals could possibly squeeze a little more value out of the Greinke trade. And at the same time, he could be the rare pitching success story out of the minor leagues.
And now Jake Odorizzi is gone.
Together, Myers and Odorizzi represented a belief in our general manager. Belief he could strike gold in the draft and on the trade market. As the major league failures piled up, this hope for these minor league success stories to reach the major leagues and contribute was all we could muster when evaluating Dayton Moore. Hope that he was right when he was bold in the draft. Hope that he was able to get maximum value for one of the best starting pitchers in the game. Hope that The Process could survive, despite it's major league setbacks.
And now, with Myers and Odorizzi in Tampa, it feels as though The Process has been dismantled. It really hasn't... But the luck, the money and the shrewd trades didn't move it along. It was never as successful as we hoped. The script has been flipped from the Greinke deal. Now, the Royals are the ones using prospects to net major league talent.
Did The Process ever exist? Or was it just a figment of Dayton's imagination?