By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
Off and on for five years until this past October, I wrote a column on the Kansas City Royals for The Topeka Capital-Journal.
So understandably, I was intrigued when I learned the Royals had traded top prospects Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi, along with Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard for Tampa Bay Rays pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis on
The deal stirred a debate between fans with half arguing that the Royals gave away a future star in Myers and the others overjoyed the Royals are trying to put a winner on the field in 2013.
For what it¹s worth, here are a few of my thoughts on the trade:
- Royals fans have to respect the fact that the organization is showing it is dedicated to building a winner. For a team that hasn¹t made the postseason since 1985 and hasn¹t had a winning record since 2003, Kansas City¹s management at the very least deserves credit for no longer being content with losing.
- Respecting the Royals¹ desire to win doesn¹t mean fans can¹t be critical of the deal. Just because Kansas City is trying to win doesn¹t mean it made the best deal possible. Some believe the Royals didn¹t receive enough back
for Myers, who is viewed by many as the top prospect in baseball. Some are concerned that Shields¹ stats are misleading because most of his success came at a pitcher-friendly stadium in Tampa Bay. Some feel the Royals
weren¹t close enough to being a contender to take this ³all-in² approach since Shields is under contract for only two years.
- There is nothing wrong with that scrutiny toward the trade. Only time will tell if the criticisms are valid. However, just because a team is making an effort to improve doesn¹t let management off the hook if they indeed made a bad decision.
- With that said, the Royals in one year have gone from having Bruce Chen as the opening day starter to having him at No. 5 or even out of the rotation. As of now, Kansas City¹s 2013 starting rotation appears to be Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Wade Davis as the top four and Chen, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza competing for the fifth spot.
- On paper, that is a substantial improvement. Still, three of the top four pitchers have question marks. Guthrie and Santana were both horrible in the first half of 2012, and Davis was a relief pitcher all of last season.
- On paper, there is no doubt the Royals became better on Sunday night than they were on Sunday morning.
- On paper, the Royals still aren¹t better than the AL Central defending champion Detroit Tigers.
- Shields will be the best opening day starter for the Royals since Zack Greinke. Still, he was arguably the second or third best pitcher for a team that didn¹t make the playoffs last year.
- Right or wrong, I never got the feeling that Royals' management viewed Myers as highly as they did Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas when they were poised to reach the major leagues.
- The move not only shows the fans that they are trying to win, but it also lets the Royals¹ players know the organization is committed. That message may be the most important.
- The next two years will have more impact on the future direction of the organization than any others in recent history. If it works, the Royals could quickly become a model for small market teams, and free agents could begin to look at Kansas City as a destination. If it fails, Moore and manager Ned Yost will be gone, and the rebuilding efforts will begin yet another chapter.