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Royals misjudge their talent, Wil pay the price

Dec 9, 2012, 11:58 PM EDT

Dayton Moore, David Glass Getty Images

Royals GM Dayton Moore has told us for years to “trust the process.” For better or worse, he put forth his endgame on Sunday night, sacrificing top prospects Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi, not to mention third baseman Patrick Leonard and left-hander Mike Montgomery, in order to bring in James Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays.

In so doing, it looks like he jumped the gun. The process just wasn’t working out as hoped. The Royals had increased their win totals three straight years, but not hardly enough to matter. They won 65 games in 2009, 67 in 2010, 71 in 2011 and 72 in 2012.

And that’s the problem. These Royals weren’t two players away. At least not these two players. Maybe the 2014 Royals would have been. But the odds were against Moore being in charge of the 2014 Royals unless the team took a big step forward next season.

What we have here is a general manager who put his own best interests ahead of those of his team. And probably bought himself an extra year of employment as a reward.

That’s not to say it couldn’t work out. Shields is heckuva a pitcher, albeit not as good of one as Tropicana Field has made it seem (Shields has a 3.33 ERA at home and a 4.54 ERA on the road in his career). Davis seemed to find his niche as a reliever last season, though odds are that the Royals will take another look at him as a starter. Myers has very rare power for a right-handed hitter, but if last year’s strikeout rate is a sign of things to come, he might not post strong OBPs in the majors.

In the end, this trade will likely be judged on two factors: the Royals making the postseason and whether Myers turns into a star. I doubt he’ll be any sort of bust, but he might be more of a .250-.260 hitter than a perennial All-Star. My guess is that he ends up more in the Nick Swisher class of quality regular than something truly extraordinary.

Of course, Orodizzi should be overlooked, either. The best of the minor leaguers the Royals got from the Brewers in the Zack Greinke trade, he’s a potential No. 3 starter for the Rays.

As things stand now, these are your 2013 Royals:

Rotation: Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar
Bullpen: Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Louis Coleman, Francisley Bueno

Lineup: CF Lorenzo Cain, SS Alcides Escobar, LF Alex Gordon, DH Billy Butler, 1B Eric Hosmer, C Salvador Perez, 3B Mike Moustakas, RF Jeff Francoeur, 2B Chris Getz

Bench: C Brett Hayes, INF Tony Abreu, OF Jarrod Dyson, INF Irving Falu

Could that be a wild card team? It’s conceivable. The lineup certainly looks solid, especially 3-7. Shields is good enough to front a contending rotation, and Guthrie is a fair enough three or four. The bullpen should also be very strong, even if it’s filled with a bunch of relative no-names.

Still, the Royals will need some breaks. It will help a great deal if Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino can make strong returns from Tommy John surgery and contribute in the rotation, because those two could be considerable upgrades over Chen and Hochevar.

In the meantime, it’s a shallow team, something that will become painfully obvious once injuries strike. Myers and Odorizzi were definite candidates to contribute this season, and their absence leaves the Royals with little in the way of intriguing alternatives for DL fill-ins. Davis and Luis Mendoza are the primary rotation fallbacks. The Royals are going to have to add a couple of veteran bench players before the winter is out.

I’d say the Royals are an 82-85 win team at the moment. It’s a team with upside; Hosmer and Moustakas could break through and a healthy Perez will help a lot. But it’s still a real underdog for a wild card spot, and now the future for 2014 and beyond looks bleaker than it did yesterday.

  1. butchhuskey - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:05 AM

    Nice pun in the title (“Wil”)

    • Matthew Pouliot - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:12 AM

      Alternate titles

      – Royals stink up joint with Odorizzi deal
      – There’s no defense for Shields trade
      – Royals Wade off deep end

      Seriously, best not to encourage me.

      • dcfan4life - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:26 AM

        – Could Bad Shields equals no Moore?
        – Moores last Wil and Odorizzi
        – Royals Fans now Expecting Moore

        Ya i can do this too…

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 10, 2012 at 8:53 AM

        Would have been even more spectacular if the deal had been for David Price.

  2. randygnyc - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    “Moore consents to Royal screwing”

  3. xmatt0926x - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:39 AM

    Horrible trade. Shields is not an elite ace by any means and even calling him an ace is stretching it to begin with. Even more troubling is Bruce Chen being in the rotation. No good team would have a pitcher like him in their rotation. He is soft as a pillow and should be cut immediately.

  4. howitzer819 - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:50 AM

    Like yeah the trade is terrible… but ultimately if it’s James Shields for Nick Swisher (whom this article compares Wil Myers to) and a no. 3 starter… is it that bad?

    • Ari Collins - Dec 10, 2012 at 1:06 AM

      6 years of Nick Swisher is worth a whole lot more than 2 years of James Shields. And it’s quite possible Myers is considerably better than Swisher. It’s unlikely that Shields is better than Shields.

  5. madhatternalice - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    Never thought I’d see the day when “Jeff Francoeur” and “wild card team” appeared in the same article…

  6. kcmaddog1 - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    Mortgaged the future! Another sad day to be a Royals fan! Dayton Moore just became the worst GM in KC.

  7. aiede - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:53 AM

    Trading away a minor league player of the year outfielder for pitching help would make more sense if they weren’t sending Jeff Francoeur up to the plate 500 times a season.

    There isn’t going to be an AL wild card coming out of the Central and this doesn’t improve the Royals enough to compete with the Tigers for the division within the two years they’ll have of Shields.

    • baseballisboring - Dec 10, 2012 at 7:16 AM

      Seriously. It’s not like Myers was blocked by Francouer’s .287 OBP. I guess it’s important to remember that the offseason isn’t over, and you know, if the Royals could actually get to the playoffs in 2013 or 2014, it might’ve been worth it to trade these guys. But they need more than just Shields and Guthrie in that rotation for that to happen. And they’ve already made two bad moves (tendering Hochevar a contract and trading for Ervin Santana) in regards to their rotation this offseason. Can’t say I’m optimistic personally.

  8. westcoastredbird - Dec 10, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    With the Chiefs sucking so bad why would you do this to your fans in K.C.?

  9. raysfan1 - Dec 10, 2012 at 1:16 AM

    If.Myers = Swisher and Odorizzi is a consistent #3 starter, then this is an excellent deal for the Rays for at least the next 6 years. If Myers ends up > Swisher, then this is a theft.

  10. muckthefets23 - Dec 10, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    Agreeing with those who thinks this trade stinks on ice. Shields is mediocre at best, and I’ve got a good feeling we will be hearing a lot about Myers in the future. Also Matthew you may want to proofread your seventh paragraph and well done on the excellent pun title!

    • Ben - Dec 10, 2012 at 3:25 AM

      James Shields is still a very good pitcher–don’t blame him for Dayton Moore’s mistakes.

  11. Tim's Neighbor - Dec 10, 2012 at 3:42 AM

    The Royals still have a solid farm even after this deal. I get selling high on Meyers. But Odorozzi too? Yikes.

  12. lostsok - Dec 10, 2012 at 3:54 AM

    To me the real key here is Bubba Starling. If he comes up and is as good, or better, than Myers…the fans can shrug off giving him up. Second to that is Wade Davis. If his role is significant and he excels, the trade looks less oogy.

    Not a trade I’d have made if I was KC…but there’s a shot it could work out. Sure, it’s on par with Lloyd Christmas gettin’ any…

    • paperlions - Dec 10, 2012 at 7:23 AM

      The problem is that Starling will never share a field with Shields or Davis, both will be gone before Starling comes up (unless he gets a cup of coffee in September of 2014 when the Royals are 15 games out).

      The willingness to trade Myers seems to be 100% about the GM trying to keep his job by aiming for the middle.

  13. albertmn - Dec 10, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    What has it been, five or six years now, that we keep hearing that the Royals are just a year away with all this talent in the minors. Well, the guys that have made it to the majors so far have been okay, but not spectacular. Butler, Hosmer, Moose, etc have been solid at times, but I don’t think any of those guys are looking like MVP caliber players. You can’t win without pitching. Royals, Twins, and others show this distinctly. Teams that can’t afford to bid on the big free agent pitchers have no choice but to pay up in the trade market. Other teams can see how much free agent pitchers are making. That is going to lead to an increase in their trade cost.

  14. dln265 - Dec 10, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    The Royals don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt on anything. I get that. But to those dismissing this deal as a “desperate” obviously know nothing about Royals baseball, the losing, the empty promises, the wait till 2012, 2013, 2015, etc….Its about time the Royals did something that resembles what good ball clubs do. Which is get major-league starting pitching.

  15. webbza - Dec 11, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    Just wrote an article on the Shields/Myers trade. Please check it out on my blog and let me know what you think in the comments.

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