Hell hath no fury like a sports fan scorned, particularly if that fan has been kicked in the groin, crane kicked in the nose and falcon-punched in the stomach repeatedly for 25 years.
The vitriol came out in force late Sunday night when news broke that the Kansas City Royals traded Jesus Christ (Wil Myers) and three of original members of Guns N’ Roses (Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard) for the 75-year-old edition of Satchel Paige (James Shields) and pre-Crash Davis Nuke Laloosh (Wade Davis).
The sentiment from the fan base on Twitter – always entertaining, if nothing else – is Royals general manager Dayton Moore went “full retard” in a desperate attempt to save his job. To quote former Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil, “I say B.S.”
Royals fans have been in this “wait until the year after next” mode for decades. It’s been the only hope for years. “Oh yeah, well wait until those guys in Double-A get up here.” We’ve treated the future as a guarantee, that players like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Mike Montgomery, Alex Gordon and Wil Myers will rescue what was once one of baseball’s finest franchises.
Never mind that Gordon sucked for four years before he figured it out, that Hosmer hit .232 last year, that Moustakas hit .220 in the last four months of 2012, that Montgomery has been arguably the most disappointing prospect in baseball the past two years and that Myers strikes out once every four at-bats.
I did not want to see Myers go. He’s the 2012 minor league player of the year after hitting 37 homers. He has a mountain of potential and might end up being a superstar. The Royals also traded away a starting pitcher who projects as high as a No. 3 (Odorizzi), a left-lander with three plus pitches (Montgomery) and a third baseman with pop (Leonard).
But they got plenty in return. As in one of the best pitchers in the American League in Shields, who’s been about as good as anybody not named Justin Verlander the last two seasons.
The Royals have had one ace since Kevin Appier left town in the 1990s, and Zack Greinke was a true ace for all of one season in Kansas City. You don’t get to the postseason in the major leagues without an ace. The Royals needed one, Moore went and got one. The price was going to be steep.
Kansas City also acquired Davis, a decent-starter-turned-dominant-reliever who’ll move back into the rotation, where he’s a significant upgrade from the typical Royals starter over the last 20 years (an era that’s included the likes of Mark Redman, Jose Lima and Brian Anderson, among dozens of other has-beens).
MOORE OR LESS?
I understand the disdain for Moore. He brought a plethora of promise from Atlanta. Promise that included replenishing a pool of pitching prospects that dried up when gangsta rap hit the scene. To this day, more than six years after he took over as GM, he has not delivered the goods.
Yes, the Royals have a ton of talented every-day players (Gordon, Hosmer, Moustakas, Billy Butler, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar), but you don’t win without pitching. It doesn’t matter who’s hitting if Charlie Brown (Luke Hochevar) is your opening-day starter at the K.
So if you can’t develop your young pitchers, what do you do? You trade prospects for KNOWN QUALITY. You deal your best prospect for an ace. You take a risk, something the Royals haven’t done for far too long.
You know, it might work. Shields can deal, as he’s done for the past two years. Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie are capable of winning 12 to 15 games. Davis is an upgrade at the end of the rotation. Bruce Chen is where he belongs as a No. 5. Luke Hochevar … well, let’s just hope he’s not needed once Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino return.
In other words, the Royals finally have hope. Maybe “Our Time” actually fits now.
It could fail. Kansas City could be the laughingstock of baseball. Of course, it has been for going on 20 years now.
You become great by taking risks, not sitting on prospects who might be superstars.