The trade deadline sits a day away. So far, the Royals traded away an OK left-handed 3b platoon guy in Danny Valencia and received C Erik Kratz and pitcher Liam Hendricks. This isn't really helping the major league club on its own; while Kratz is probably an upgrade over Brett Hayes, Hendricks doesn't appear to be more than AAA depth right now. Valencia hadn't accrued much value so far as the short side of the part-time platoon, but he still performed admirably in the role he had. This is a move made on the margins. The following moves are also made on the margins.
Tommy Milone is a 27 year old lefty starter currently pitching for the Oakland A's AAA affiliate. Milone would be a good fit for the Royals; he's a fly ball guy who has benefited from a pitching-favorable home park and a solid outfield defense, both of which the Royals have. Here are Milone's career home/road splits.
His best season was a 2.8 fWAR 2012, and he's gotten a bit worse since then. It's possible that the A's have soured on him enough that they are willing to deal him, and Milone has expressed a desire to be traded. The cost to acquire him might be decently high because he won't be a free agent until after the 2017 season, and he's still only 27. Milone has a shot at being a slight upgrade in the 5th starter role should Ventura and/or Duffy tire or Guthrie regress more. He would be under team control after this season at a relatively low cost. I think he's better than Guthrie, and he's younger. ZiPS gives him 0.6 fWAR for the rest of the season. It may not be a great move for this year, but it does help in the long run. I don't think a serious prospect would be required to get him, but it wouldn't be nothing.
Chris Denorfia is a 34 year old RH OF bat, seemingly something that everyone wants. Denorfia is a free agent after this year, but he's not making much money for the rest of this year. Denorfia offers good baserunning and decent defense in RF, so he passes that test. However, his bat is in the midst of a 3 year decline. His strikeout rate has increased each year since 2012, and his walk rate is down this year. His power is down, and his wRC+ is in decline as well. He has a career 128 wRC+ against lefties, though, and he's been far too exposed to right handed pitchers this year. If the Royals acquired him and used him against lefties only as much as possible, Denorfia could experience a rebound for the rest of the season. Given Denorfia's poor performance and age, his cost would be low.
In isolation, neither move does much, and I don't see the point. However, taken together, these moves plus Kratz could add as much as a win over the rest of the season if we get real rosy with our projection scenarios. These are the moves made on the margins, which is apparently all the Royals can do given their lack of financial resources. An extra win on the margins could push the Royals into the 2nd wild card.
There are three competing schools of thought amongst our community. Some believe that we should go for it. Others believe we should sell. Some believe that doing nothing is the best because Dayton Moore doing things is bad. On the one hand, this could be the Royals' best chance at a playoff spot, and with GMDM at the helm, there may not be another opportunity. The play-in game is likely against either Oakland or the Angels in their town, but anything can happen in a one game playoff. I do like Dozier and Zimmer, but I liked Wil Myers more than either.
On the other hand, the true talent of this team doesn't look playoff-worthy, and sacrificing some of the future for a misguided present could be a mistake. Other teams are looking to make the same marginal moves as the Royals, so maybe a combination of marginal moves really only brings us back to where we were before, which was still behind. We're stuck between desperation for something meaningful and cynicism for accepting the likely reality. I feel both.
As it stands, any acquisition like David Price, which would really push us up the win curve, is out of reach. We have to deal with reality. Until GMDM is gone, our reality is mediocrity.
I hate mediocrity.