It’s a shame the Royals didn’t do anything big over the last week so we’d have had something to talk about. What’s that you say? They did? Excellent. The baseball off-season is such an interesting mechanism because it seems like there’s so much buildup and then about two to three weeks of intense action with teams jockeying for free agents and trades and then it just goes quiet. The occasional big move is made before and after this time period, but for the most part, everything gets done between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season. And that’s where we are now. There are still some very good free agents left to sign and there are certainly some chips left to trade, but for the most part, the big stuff is done.
- A few people have made this point and I think I actually have on Twitter, too, but if the Royals have decided 2013 is their year then they should really go for it. They need to put together a package that can net them R.A. Dickey from the Mets even if it means trading Lorenzo Cain and having to fill their center field hole. With Josh Hamilton signing with the Angels, they have outfielders to deal and Peter Bourjos could be available. He’s a guy I’d love to have patrolling center. His offense isn’t exactly top notch, but he plays amazing defense and would be a joy to watch in center. I mentioned signing Nick Swisher to replace Francoeur, too, but there’s pretty much a 0% chance of happening, so I’m not going to get hung up on that thought.
- On the Angels signing Hamilton, I wanted to say a little, but I don’t want to get too deep, so this is the perfect spot. Look, I like Hamilton. He’s a fantastic player, but he’s 32 and has his issues. Five years and $125 million is a lot of scratch for longer than I’d feel comfortable paying him if I’m a GM. Jon Daniels, while having to face some scrutiny from the fans, is probably pretty darn relieved he didn’t feel backed in a corner to sign him. It’s my opinion that they could sign Nick Swisher and Edwin Jackson (or trade for a guy like Dickey) for less money than what the Angels gave Hamilton alone and they’d be better off. I’m not saying the remaining options are better than Hamilton, but they’d give the Rangers solid production.
- I’m thinking about writing an article for next week about how the Royals rotation stacks up now after the Shields and Davis acquisition. The article will be at least relative to the rest of the American League Central and maybe the whole American League, but the point I want to make is something I kind of said in my article on Wednesday. No matter how you feel about what the Royals gave up, there’s no arguing that James Shields is a very good pitcher. Gil Meche and Zack Greinke are the only other two guys the Royals have had in the last ten years who I felt comfortable matching up with just about anybody. Guys like Verlander and Price are still out of the league of James Shields, but he’s a very good pitcher and in spite of my complaints about the trade, I’ll love seeing him out there every fifth day.
- The key for the Royals now is to find a taker for Luke Hochevar and to find a way to upgrade right field. Prior to trading Myers, the Royals had a pretty much ready made replacement to come up and man the nine spot on the diamond. Now, the next closest prospect is at least a couple years away. I’d see if the Royals could swing a deal with the Phillies involving both Luke Hochevar and Jeff Francoeur for Dominic Brown. Brown is a guy who some have cited as a cautionary tale for Wil Myers. I think that’s ridiculous for many reasons which I can get into another day, but he is a former top corner outfield prospect who just hasn’t performed up to expectations. He’s athletic and has shown he can do it in the minors. And really, what’s the risk in trading either of these two? I don’t know if Philly would go for it, but it’d be interesting if they would.
- This may be another one of my bullet points that is better positioned as a full article, but I’ve been wondering just how much the Royals offense will improve with typical growth patterns of their players. This whole concept forces us to assume things like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas will improve, which we can’t know, but for the sake of argument, let’s say we do know that. Even if those two improve, there’s a very real chance that guys like Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez see their production regress, at least somewhat. In the case of Perez, we may not see the real impact of that because of who he was replacing when he returned and what the comparison will be. In the case of Escobar, though, I think there’sÂ chance he reverts back to a .275/.305/.375 guy. I think he’s a valuable part of the team, but to count on him to have the same season offensively isn’t something I’m willing to do. I think he’s fully capable of it and I wouldn’t be surprised, but I also don’t think we can count on it.
- I think we talked about this on the podcast after the trade, but I wanted to bring up one more time how well set up the Royals could be to make a run to the playoffs IF they are in contention in late August. In guys like Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer, the Royals have two pitchers who they could bring up about the 29th or 30th and have them eligible for a playoff roster who could be serious bullpen weapons as the postseason progresses. While the Giants did get some really nice starting performances from their rotation, Tim Lincecum’s long relief bailed them out and the Royals are in a position to have a similar impact pitcher or pitchers. They have to get to that point first, but if they do and someone other than Shields steps up in the rotation, they’re going to be tough to beat.
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