My evolved and mixed feelings on the Shields trade
The Kansas City Star
(Almost) one week later, and because I KNOW you care, here’s where I’ve landed on the big Royals trade…
Overall, I don’t love the trade but I do respect it.
What I don’t like: it exacerbates potentially the biggest issue on the team, which is production out of right field if Jeff Francoeur is more 2012 than 2011. For the $13 million or so that’s added to the payroll — and, like I’ve mentioned a few times now, standing ovation for David Glass on that — I’d rather have seen them trade a non-Myers package of prospects for R.A. Dickey and use the money to sign him to an extension.
What I like: it makes the Royals significantly better now, and means their top four starters will be guys who weren’t on the roster opening day 2012. One of the points Dayton has made that’s stuck with me is that the Royals have, roughly, five seasons remaining in this current window of their core being under club controlled contracts and his obligation is to maximize the team’s chance of winning in each of those seasons.
The way I looked at it originally, the team’s peak would be 2014 and 2015, and I’d rather see them load up for that. But Dayton, honestly, makes the better point.
— What I don’t like: Shields has thrown more than 200 innings in each of the last six seasons, and that’s an awful lot of work for a guy about to pitch his age 31 season. Baseball-Reference lists Ben Sheets as his most similar comp through age 30, and Sheets broke down.
Then again, B-R’s top overall comp is Zack Greinke. And that’s pretty sweet. The trepidation may just be the risk you have to take on in any trade. There are no guarantees about Myers and Odorizzi, either.
— What I like: You don’t have to squint too hard to see the Royals being contenders, and now. There are no perfect teams — imagine the Tigers if Verlander, Cabrera or Fielder get hurt — and the Royals’ holes are smaller and/or fewer than just about any team they’ve had since the strike.
The rotation they have now might also be a good bridge to when Felipe Paulino and/or Danny Duffy are fully recovered, and making far less than Ervin Santana’s $12 million that’s off the books for 2014.
— What I don’t like: giving up Mike Montgomery in the trade is a no-win situation for the Royals. If he flops in Tampa, then he was just a wildly talented guy who could never harness it. If he contributes there — even as a bullpen guy — then the Royals will be seen as the organization that couldn’t get a wildly talented guy to harness it.
To me, the modern Royals’ inability to develop pitching is both a problem and mildly overblown. For instance, if they hadn’t won those meaningless games at the end of 2006 they would’ve drafted David Price first overall instead of Mike Moustakas second and their record on pitching would look much better. Also, they’ve been unlucky with injuries, Duffy still has the chance to be a star, and they’ve got some guys like Yordano Ventura on the way.
But if Montgomery turns out, it’ll be hard to make that case.
— So overall, my feelings on the trade have evolved a bit in the days we’ve had to digest it since the news broke Sunday night. I’m not sure it’s an all-in-on-the-next-two-years move as much as it is sacrificing a bit of boom later on for more up front. The Royals took the lump sum instead of the yearly payment, but either way they’re getting paid.
And it’s true that by nature many Royals fans hate this trade, it’s also true that many Rays fans hate to see Shields and Davis go.
To me, giving up six-plus years of club control on ready-made big leaguers like Myers and Odorizzi (not to mention Montgomery and Patrick Leonard) mean I’d have wanted more than two years of Shields and five on Davis when Myers would’ve been a presumed upgrade on what remains a major question mark in the lineup.
But I do respect what they’ve done here, trying to move on, trying to win now.