Monday, December 20, 2010

The Past Don't Control You

...But the future's like a roulette wheel spinning.
Deep down inside, you know you need a whole new beginning.
(From "Ye Shall Be Changed," The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3)

And with that, Dayton Moore's transformation of the Royals major-league roster is complete. "That," of course, is Sunday's Zack Greinke trade. Moore took over the Royals in the middle of the 2006 season. Now the only player currently on the roster who played for the Royals in 2006 is outfielder Mitch Maier, and he only had 15 plate appearances that season.

Unfortunately, the major league results from 2006 and 2011 are likely to be similar. However, it looks more and more like the major league results from 2012 and beyond will be much better. The Greinke trade is one more building block for that future.

I think the Royals made a good trade. Not a great one, but a good one. First off, replacing Yuni Betancourt with Alcides Escobar has to be a positive. True, Escobar doesn't have the occasional power Yuni has shown. But they both posted a .288 OBP last year. While that is terrible, I'd rather have an above-average defender whose offense should improve than have, well, Yuni.

Escobar did not have a good rookie season in 2010. But he was a highly-touted prospect and is likely to improve. The good news is, if his defense is as good as advertised, he won't need to be an adept offensive player to have a positive impact. He won't be a free agent until after the 2015 season. If the Royals' scouting is correct, they have found their shortstop for the long-term. This is a good thing.

Then there's Lorenzo Cain. This is an intriguing addition to the now-crowded outfield situation. Cain hasn't shown a lot of power in the minors, but he has shown an ability to take a walk, steal some bases and play good defense in centerfield. Like Escobar, he could be a long-term solution.

I know little about the pitchers the Royals received (Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi) except that Jeffress throws hard and both were considered among the Brewers' best prospects. In the pitching-heavy Royals system, it will be interesting to see where they both rank. It is nice that both are righties, as the Royals are as stocked as can be with lefties, it seems.

Meanwhile, life without Zack will not be fun, at least probably not for a year or two. The Royals' projected rotation for 2011 is not especially promising. And let's be honest, watching Zack pitch when he was dialed in was a lot of fun. Of course, getting Zack dialed in was sometimes a problem.

I know there was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over this trade. There were a lot of comparisons to the Carlos Beltran trade in 2004. But to me, the most important thing to remember is that Greinke didn't want to play here anymore. Also, the Royals' farm system is light years ahead of what it was in 2004. Back then, the Royals should have taken the most talent they could get. Now, they can afford to be a little choosy. So they were. They traded a guy who didn't want to be here anymore and a guy no one wanted to be here anymore for two potential solutions at important defensive positions, a possible closer candidate someday (Jeffress) and a possible mid-rotation starter someday (Odorizzi). To me, that's a good trade for the long term. Now, I believe someday soon it will be the Royals' turn to trade prospects for an established player or two.

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