This is panic. Or swagger. This is desperation. Or aggression. This is the Royals, after six years of transforming baseballs worst farm system into the best, betting all that work on the next two years.
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
Ive written before that because hes been given better resources than Allard Baird and Herk Robinson, but still works in a more disadvantageous climate than John Schuerholz, Joe Burke or Cedric Tallis, that Dayton Moore will be remembered as the best or worst general manager in Royals history.
Well, he just bet that legacy.
He made that wager by acquiring two starting pitchers, including his 2013 opening day starter (James Shields), for three guys who havent made an impact in the big leagues.
He also made that bet by giving away six years of baseballs best hitting prospect (Wil Myers), six years of his best pitching prospect (Jake Odorizzi) and six years of a high-risk pitching prospect (Mike Montgomery) for two years of a solid starter and as many as five years of another starting pitcher (Wade Davis).
To be clear: Im with what seems to be the industry consensus, that the Royals are reaching too far and too early and giving up too much.
Myers may be their best homegrown position player since Carlos Beltran, and Shields may be Paul Byrd.
But this much should also be recognized: Moore and owner David Glass just made the kind of move Ive been hammering them to make for quite some time.
Along with Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana, the Royals top four starting pitchers for 2013 have all been acquired in the last few months. Shields is due around $10 million and Davis $2.8 million, meaning Glass has OKd the $80 million payroll that a lot of us have been screaming for.
The Royals are trying to win, in other words, and trying to do so now so in some ways its a bit disingenuous to be complaining now that theyre doing it.
The Royals still have a good farm system. Internally, they view Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer as better pitching prospects than Odorizzi. And as several scouts around the sport have observed in recent weeks, Myers and Odorizzi will have to make multiple All-Star Games to accumulate more trade value than they have right now.
So this trade is not the unmitigated disaster some are calling it.
But it is a significant reach. Even acknowledging the baseball man who said late Sunday night, if you wait until you have enough money to have kids, good luck, this is an all-in move before the Royals needed to go all-in.
Throughout his time in Kansas City, Moore has been fond of saying that he wouldnt make decisions until he had to make decisions. Sending a loaded bucket of prospects to Tampa Bay in exchange for a quick fix is a clear message.
In the coming days, the Royals will sell this as an aid to their young players, and there is some truth in that. This trade makes them better in 2013, and its fair to assume that winning now will make Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer and the rest of the Royals core better.
But what Moore has effectively done is sacrifice 2015 and beyond when, presumably, the aforementioned guys will be in their prime for 2013 and 2014.
He is betting that more wins in the next two years will lead to more wins in the following seasons, or at least buy more time for another run. In that way, it is a quick fix for a man who until now has abhorred such moves. It is out of character for an organization that has stayed strictly in character, a play for now from a franchise that has preached the future, and a push for 2013 from a man whos most recently been pushing for 2014 and beyond.
The Royals have spent six years remaking themselves from the sports worst-run organization into a small-money team placing its bets in the right places. Thats all changed now.
The Royals are another team reaching for the now, and thats something most of their fans have been demanding for some time. The franchises and GMs future is riding on the outcome.
Their fans skepticism is well-earned.
To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow twitter.com/mellinger. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com