The ten games over .500 Boston Red Sox got busy this week, trading for reliever Brad Ziegler and infielder Aaron Hill. Given that Boston is giving up runs at a pace only surpassed by the hapless the Twins, you can bank on them jumping into the starting pitcher market sooner rather than later and to do so with some amount of gusto. That is not great news for the Royals, who are also looking for (and need) starting pitching and who, by the way, are three and one-half games behind those same Red Sox in the Wild Card standings.
Oh, the Wild Card, my friends. Here at the luxurious BPKC headquarters, there have been numerous discussions about what the Royals should do. Go for it? Stand pat? Even selling has come up.
While the Central Division is not out of the question, it is a fair distance up ahead of where the Royals currently stand. The Wild Card, while still within reach, is (as David Lesky pointed out in Friday Notes, which he wrote after blatantly taking one more pastry out of the break room than he was allotted) is a 50-50 one game lottery. Last year, Kansas City went big to get Zobrist and Cueto with the sole intention of winning the World Series. To do something similar just to get into the post-season and play just one game? Maybe not so smart.
That said, unlike some of my esteemed colleagues here on the top floor of BP Towers, I am of the mindset that if the Royals can ‘see it’ they ought to reach out and try to ‘grab it’. Certainly, they should do so with some about of reason and not just trade anything for something just to say they did it. I have digressed….more coffee!
Is it worth the attempt, just to make it into a one game playoff? I think it is and here’s why.
The Royals’ roster is essentially set for next season already. This core group, subject to a handful of options, will be back and will be unaffected by any maneuvering Dayton Moore might execute this summer. Yes, trading for a starter will hurt the 2018 Royals, but not the 2017 squad. Barring something miraculous, I don’t believe the 2018 team is going to be a contender no matter what the organization does right now. So, I am not excited about hoping for miraculous in 2018 at the expense of not trying to make the 2016 Royals a handful of games better.
What is the point of being content to go 84-78 this year just so you can hope to be 80-82 in 2018 instead of 68-94?
Much talk, including from Moore himself, is about sustainability or even about being a dynasty. If not a dynasty, then at least something akin to what the San Francisco Giants are and have been. Heck, maybe the Giants ARE a dynasty as that term might apply to the baseball world these days. I don’t see it in the Royals’ future.
I do see Kansas City making a run this season and next, albeit with a better run of injury luck. It is possible the 2016 run ends with a distasteful wild card loss in Toronto. It is likely 2017 might not end with a World Series, but it is not out of the realm of possibilities. How many years after that will be bad? One, probably two, but fearing the Royals revert to the disaster they were for much of the first part of this century is not logical.
So, some old man rambling out in the heat for you there. I keep promising these guys I’ll write during the week (contain your excitement, people) and one topic clanking around my head is determining when a team really should go for it. Nothing in what is sure to be that epic and stunning piece of work will likely solve the conundrum of making bold moves just for a chance to play one playoff game (ask Oakland about that), but it might provide a sketch of what might lie ahead. Or not.
I guess in the end, I stand as one willing to enjoy five good seasons at the expense of not being good at all for the following two. And, yes, I would define a season as ‘good’ even if it did end with a loss in the Wild Card game.