Did Trade Make Royals Contenders in 2013?

by JohnBowen

Over the weekend, the Kansas City Royals acquired right-handed starter James Shields and reliever Wade Davis from the Rays in exchange for four prospects: outfielder Wil Myers, right-handed starter Jake Odorizzi, left-handed starter Mike Montgomery, and third baseman Patrick Leonard.

Overwhelming reaction to the trade was negative – as it should be. James Shields is a terrific starter – a consistent innings eater (over 200 IP every year since 2007) and strike-out machine (8+ K/9 each of the last 3 years). But he’s only controlled for two years – not worth the surrender of the team’s best positional and pitching prospect, among others, even with Wade Davis included. With 6 cost-controlled years a piece, Myers and Odorizzi could well be terrorizing the AL East well beyond 2014, when James Shields has left Kansas City.

Wil Myers entered 2012 ranked as the country’s #28 prospect, according to Baseball America, and only improved his stock by hitting .314/.387/.600 with 37 home runs and 109 RBI between AA and AAA last season. The 22-year old will likely be the Rays opening day right fielder.

Jake Odorizzi, also 22, is best known as the key piece of the Brewers’ Zack Greinke acquisition before the 2011 season. He was ranked just inside the top-70 by Baseball America each of the past two seasons; he currently has more strikeouts than innings pitched in the minors and pitched well enough between AA and AAA (15-5, 3.03 ERA, 1.252 WHIP, 8.4 K/9) to earn his Major League debut this past year.

Mike Montgomery, 23, has also been highly regarded in prospect ratings, but has yet to put it together at higher levels in the minor leagues, posting atrocious numbers the last couple years, reportedly struggling with command of his fastball. Patrick Leonard, 19, was taken in the fifth round by the Royals last year and posted an .833 OPS in rookie ball; it will be interesting to see if he changes positions with superstar Evan Longoria being locked up with the Rays through 2023.

In order to make that trade in the first place, one has to assume that Royals General Manager Dayton Moore believed the Royals had to be in must-win mode for the next two years – a position he might be compelled to take given his current contract, which expires after 2014. Moore has been on the job in Kansas City since 2006 and although he has yet to build a winning Major League team, he has been heralded for building a robust farm system stocked with blue chip prospects – some of which, he must now feel, can be extended to acquire the veteran stardom to bring playoff baseball back to the City of Fountains.

This raises an important question: does the acquisition of Shields and Davis make the Royals contenders?

In 2012, the Kansas City Royals finished 16 games back of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central, going 72-90. Their Pythagorean W/L, based on the number of runs they scored and gave up was 74-88, and by team WAR they should have been about 75-87. In other words, it’s not as if they underperformed their statistical predictors or did abnormally poorly in 1-run games (27-26) or extra-inning games (8-7). They were a mediocre team that finished third in a very weak division.

There were some bright spots of course. For the second straight year, left fielder Alex Gordon justified his team’s faith in him, hitting .294/.368/.455 with a league-best 51 doubles and another gold glove. DH Billy Butler set career highs with a .313 batting average, .510 slugging percentage, 140 OPS+, 29 home runs, and 107 RBI while earning his first all-star selection. Alcides Escobar made great strides, hitting .293 with 30 doubles and 30 stolen bases while playing his customary outstanding defense at shortstop. Finally, the bullpen was rock-solid all the way around; while this is difficult to project going forwards, it’s a nice advantage to have as it can win a lot of close games – see the 2012 Baltimore Orioles for proof.

All in all, however, the team was simply poor in every single aspect of their game. Their 676 runs scored ranked 12th in the American League. Their 4.30 ERA ranked them 10th . Their fielding, with a couple exceptions was poor. While those bright spots exist, the team was not deep enough to reasonably contend, as evidenced by the 603 plate appearances foolishly given to Jeff Francoeur or the 438 split between Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt.

It’s easy to see how they might make a run. Shields solidifies the top of the rotation as the legitimate ace he was in 2011 – and not just an innings-eater. Newly acquired Ervin Santana returns to his pre-2012 form as a rock-solid #2. Youngsters Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas break-out after mightily struggling in their first full year together, while Salvador Perez picks up where he left off. Jeremy Gutherie pitches like he did as a 29-year old (four years ago). In addition, the Tigers and White Sox both struggle with injuries, and the Royals manage to over-perform their expected W/L like the Orioles of this past year or the 2007 Diamondbacks.

If every single one of those things were to happen, the Royals would win about 90 games and probably the division.

The problem with this line of thought is easy to spot, however: such optimism can be derived from about 27 other teams. This is, of course, a terrible way to run a ball-club – mortgaging your future on the chance that good things will all fall into place. You have to do what is actually likely to be best for your club, with a clear vision of the future.

Dayton Moore took a chance on making a playoff run right now. But the overwhelming likelihood is that he sealed his own coffin.

55 Responses to “Did Trade Make Royals Contenders in 2013?”

  1. Raul Says:

    You alluded to the point…and that is that Dayton Moore sacrificed the good of the franchise in the hopes he can save his job. That’s all this was about.

    If MLB owners are smart, they’ll look at this and never offer Moore a job — not because he isn’t helpful…he did put together a great system in KC — but because, how can you trust him to not fuck you over when the clock winds down on his contract?

  2. Cameron Says:

    This is the news I come back to the site for?

    …Fuck you guys.

  3. Chuck Says:

    You build a franchise around pitchING, not around pitchERS.

    Never, ever under any circumstance to you trade the minor league player of the year, who is a POSITION player at that, for pitching.

    EVER.

  4. Bob Says:

    Does it make them contenders? Possibly with the second wild card. People still expect Detroit to play well with the additions of Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez. But could the White Sox slide a bit?
    Certainly not saying the Royals win the trade, but it could keep the fans coming to the ballpark post Labor Day.

  5. Raul Says:

    Listen man,

    When you suck as much as the Royals do, keeping fans coming to the ballpark doesn’t mean a thing. And even if that were the case, nobody is coming to watch James Shields and Wade Davis pitch.

    The Royals got two veteran pitchers for unproven minor leaguers and are worse. Much, much worse.

    The potential of that lineup with Hosmer, Gordon, Perez, Myers and Escobar could have been pretty awesome — with Starling 2 years away.

    Instead, they may win 78 games a year before their talent leaves via trades or FA…then they’ll be a 66-win team for another decade.

    Sickening.

  6. Chuck Says:

    The AL wild card winner over the past five years has averaged 94 wins per season.

    The AL Central winner over the past five years has averaged 91.

    The Royals have averaged 70.

    James Shields and Ervin Santana and Wade Davis are not worth 21 wins.

    Wil Myers could be the next Trout/Harper/Stanton/Heyward type prospect.

    He is a middle of the order impact bat who plays solid if not spectacular defense and who very may have been a 5-7 WAR player for the next six seasons until he hit free agency.

    Odorizzi’s better than Davis..Montgomery hasn’t panned out but there’s still hope for him.

    Shields is not an ace.

    If you want to package your top prospect, you damn well be getting back Felix Hernandez, not the white Edwin Jackson.

    Holy shit this trade SUCKS.

  7. Raul Says:

    “not the white Edwin Jackson”

    That’s gold.

  8. Bob Says:

    Chuck used WAR. Perhaps not gold, but al least silver.

  9. JohnBowen Says:

    LOL @ 8.

  10. Bob Says:

    The Yankees have fun with Eli Whiteside, so the Red Sox decide to play ring-around-the Roses with Sandy Rosario.

  11. Raul Says:

    Well played, Bob.

  12. Raul Says:

    I thought I would have calmed down by now but I’m still shocked by this trade.
    I really think this is the kind of move that would make me quit being a fan of the Royals.

    The sad thing is, it’s probably business as usual for Cameron.

  13. Cameron Says:

    DM fucking up a trade and sabotaging the future of the team? Par for the course.

    …And Scott Pioli’s even more incompetent at running the Chiefs. KC fans learn to get comfortable behind the fan, because we don’t have time to get out from behind it shit hits it that fast.

  14. Bob Says:

    Cameron, been paying attention to the Chiefs the past week?

  15. Cameron Says:

    If you mean Jovan Belcher… Yeah, I saw that.

  16. Bob Says:

    I did.

  17. Chuck Says:

    The more I think of this, the more mind-numbing this becomes.

    The Royals finished 22 games out of the wild card, it’s not like they got eliminated the last weekend of the season.

    They need James Shields and Dennis Leonard and Bret Saberhagen and Paul Splittorff and Mark Gubicza and it STILL wouldn’t be enough.

    And they basically traded the 2013 version of Bryce Harper/Mike Trout for a .500 pitcher…..

    I’m seriously nauseated.

    If I’m George Brett, I walk into Moore’s office and tell him to clear his desk.

  18. Cameron Says:

    Shields is extremely durable, can put up an ERA a good point-point and a half lower than anyone else on the staff (not saying much), and is under reasonable contract.

    …HOWEVER, he’s only one guy. One guy who’s there every five days. Not to mention the fact Shields has a bad history of hot-and-cold streaks and his cold streaks are legendarily toxic.

  19. Raul Says:

    It’s not like they traded some Top 70-rated outfielder who is a 15-homer/35 steals guy.

    They traded a middle of the order bat who can actually play defense for Livan fucking Hernandez.

    Shields eats innings? Blow me. You know who needs innings eaters? The Yankees and Angels…to put in the 5th slot of the rotation and hope they get 170 innings so their 7th inning guy doesn’t go on the DL in July from over-use.

    Shields means nothing to the Royals.

  20. Cameron Says:

    Average ERA, back to back 200 strikeout years, durability, he has his upsides.

    Is he worth Odorizzi or Myers? No. Is he worth both? FUUUUUCK NO! Shields isn’t a bum, but for fuck’s sake, this trade.

  21. Mike Felber Says:

    Are you typing from a ledge Cameron?

  22. Cameron Says:

    No, just with one hand. Other’s on the trigger.

  23. Bob Says:

    Andruw Jones will play in Japan.

  24. Cameron Says:

    I’m amazed he’s playing at all anymore after how hard he fell off the cliff.

    Not saying steroids, but… Actually, fuck it, I am. Hits 51 homers one season, 3 three years later? What else?

  25. Len Says:

    I don’t understand this trade at all. I wouldn’t even trade Myers for Shields & Davis let alone Myers with three other prospects!!

    You look at the Minor League player of the year award among position players going back to 1989 and it’s an all star team: Trout, Heyward, Wieters, Bruce, A. Gordon, Mauer, Chavez, Konerko, A. Jones (twice), Jeter, Manny Ramirez, Salmon, Frank Thomas, Sandy Alomar jr. Derek Bell was pretty good for a few years and Baldelli had some promising years early on until a medical condition halted his career. The only real bust since 1989 among position players has been Delmon Young.

    The Royals are a 72 win team anyway so what’s the best case scenario? Shields and Davis have great years and they win 85 games and finish in second or third place?

    Davis has largely been a bust and Shields has never lived up to what was expected of him. Also Shields is 30 years old.

    Shields has had some good years. He’s an innings eater and gets lots of k’s. He has a good K/bb rate and a good whip but one thing I”ve never liked is that he’s only finished in the top 10 in ERA “Once” in six full seasons in the big leagues. He pitches in a good pitcher’s park and he’s mostly had very good defenses behind him. It seems like he gives up his fair share of HR, he’s pitched in that dome for 6 full seasons and he’s never finished in the top ten for hr/9. Only go back to 2010 and Shields had a 5.18 ERA. He led the league in hits allowed, HR allowed and earned runs allowed. Again this is while pitching in a pitcher’s park with a good defensive team.

    Anyway aren’t Myers & Odorizzi good enough to make the Royals anyway??? God, just switching Myers for Francoeur might give you 7 games right there. Also, you could save the money you’re going to have pay Shields and apply that to a free agent.

    Like Chuck said, if you’re going to package Myers you better get back King Felix type pitcher. Also, like Chuck said, they’re were 20 games out of the wild card last year, it’s not like they were very close and just missed it.

  26. Cameron Says:

    Between Jeremy Guthrie and James Shields, the Royals rotation has a rare amount of stability. 200 inning guys there.

    …Problem is, there’s about to be a 4-4.50 ERA between the two of them (and it will largely be Guthrie’s fault).

  27. Cameron Says:

    Today’s Fun Fact: The one baseball cap I own is NOT a Kansas City Royals cap.

    Today’s Trivia Question: What team’s cap do I own?

  28. JohnBowen Says:

    Yankees, possibly Reds.

  29. Chuck Says:

    Mike Silva:

    “I wouldn’t trade RA Dickey even up for Wil Myers”.

    I thought my Twitter page would explode over that one.

  30. Chuck Says:

    Kansas City Monarchs.

    Buck O’Neil left it to you in his will.

  31. Cameron Says:

    I wish. John was close with one of them. It’s an Indians cap. The new/retro block C logo. I like it.

  32. Bob Says:

    Cameron, I read that Cedar Point will unviel a new ride that goes 170 feet ib the air. Called the Gatekeeper. Try it.

  33. Chuck Says:

    Yanks signed Youkilis.

    Thankfully, I use an electric razor.

  34. Chuck Says:

    Indians, Reds, Dbacks working on three team trade..Choo to Reds, Stubbs and Gregorious to Indians, Gregorious to Dbacks for Bauer.

  35. Cameron Says:

    They signed Youkilis to…

  36. Raul Says:

    Look,

    I love RA Dickey. Great guy. Great story.

    If I was offered Wil Myers for RA Dickey, not only do I personally pack Dickey’s bag and drive him to the airport…I’d front the bill for a full Eric Ripert meal for his entire family before the trip.

  37. Raul Says:

    Bauer still is like a top 10 minor league prospect.

    And the Dbacks wanna move him for an 8th inning guy like Gregerson.
    Between this shit, all the bad FA contracts given, and this KC trade, this is the worst offseason in MLB history.

    That’s not hyperbole.
    The worst ever, dude.

    150 years of baseball.
    The worst ever.

  38. Raul Says:

    Oh. So I confused Gregorious with Gregerson.

    Still a shitty offseason

  39. Chuck Says:

    Raul, got your back, dude.

    You can tweet to your heart’s content to your 19 followers that I said the Dbacks think Bauer’s a fucking whackjob and want to trade him before they’re on the hook for 100 grand worth of physc bills.

    Remember how fast the Yankees got rid of Jose Tabata?

  40. Chuck Says:

    Holy shit….Phillies are signing Hamilton.

  41. Cameron Says:

    Between him and the Michael Young pickup, the Phillies are really trying to cover ground between them and Atlanta.

  42. Jim Says:

    Guess Joba won’t need to be traded to Cleveland to play w/Youk.

  43. Raul Says:

    lol
    fair enough.

    They really blew a lot of smoke up Yankees fans asses with that Tabata hype.

  44. Raul Says:

    If the Phillies knew they were going to make a run at Josh Hamilton…WHY THE FUCK WOULD THEY TRADE FOR BEN NOODLE BAT REVERE?!?!??!?!?

  45. Cameron Says:

    My guess? They lost Victorino and needed the defense in centerfield.

  46. Raul Says:

    Revere isn’t that great of a defender anyway.
    And his offensive output easily makes him the worst CFer in the game.

  47. Chuck Says:

    #44

    It’s 2:30 am and you’re in the parking lot of some bar getting a blow job from Roseanne when Katy Perry walks past and gives you a panty shot on the way by.

    You’ll jump out of the car so fast there may be bloodshed.

    Angel Pagan, meet Josh Hamilton

    Katy Perry, meet Raul’s dick.

  48. Chuck Says:

    Well, that’s an interesting development.

    It appears a funding project undertaken by High Heat Stats has fallen through, and the site will soon cease to exist.

    Time to reach into your wallet Felber…you know the old saying about where to put your money.

  49. JohnBowen Says:

    That’s too bad.

    Their site has a fair (not intrusive) number of ads. I guess they’re just not cutting it somehow.

  50. Mike Felber Says:

    It is as yet unknown if the site will continue, see the discussion here. Andy said he does not know what the fall trough means or the future of the web site, & folks discuss different options.

    http://www.highheatstats.com/2012/12/update

    I will help in the reasonable way of paying for a subscription service if that becomes an option. The level of debate & intelligence there is very high.

  51. Mike Felber Says:

    Is this Bizarro-world/HHS filtered Prime Chuck? So gracious & complimentary, endorsing THIS sentiment as I could not say it better:

    “It’s hard to articulate what I want to convey. 1) In spite of my oftentimes critical stance on some of the posts at this site, I find HHS to be the most generally stimulating, penetrating, articulate, and civil place I’ve ever discovered on line, regardless of subject matter. It’s the only site I have ever felt compelled to respond to by contributing (although some might question my use of that term with reference to my various screeds)”.

    What a ringing, & correct, endorsement. I see that before you wrote the comment here bout them being soon dead, you observed the community rallying to help, & its likely salvation. Which has been confirmed by Andy more recently: HHS seems likely to continue for a long time to come.

  52. Chuck Says:

    Not only have I read the thread, I commented on it.

    Judging from Andy’s last comment, it does appear the site will be on hiatus at least until “we get closer to the season”.

    It’s unfortunate..even a big site like Baseball Reference had to let the original blog go because of cost, Andy self-funds HHS.

    It’s unfortunate and I wish them well.

  53. Mike Felber Says:

    Maybe you are correct Chuck. I took his statement to mean that he would likelyt make no decision about terminating HHS until then. Your interpretation may be more sound. Though it appears that things are much in flux, & my bet now would be on it not being suspended this off season as folks offer help to keep it active & afloat.

    Yes, I saw & was appreciating your comment. I was saying that you endorsed as perfect the high praise of HHS that I quoted just above.

  54. Chuck Says:

    It’s really difficult for anyone to make a living off a website, especially when you don’t charge for content.

    HHS provides an outlet for the sabermetrically inclined, but I don’t think their overall audience is large enough to support the site, nor do I think what they have is worth paying for, especially when it comes to recruiting new members.

    I was pretty taken aback by Andy’s reference to being a business man, yet he didn’t know enough to go through MLB Licensing first before committing all his money?

    No one can market the image of a player or logo without consent.

  55. Raul Says:

    Not surprising.

    Lots of people in one business don’t know what it takes to be successful in another.

    Case in point: all those people who get wealthy on Wall Street opening up bars and restaurants…only to fail miserably

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