In my dreams, the Royals won the Winter Meetings. General Manager Dayton Moore, acutely aware of the importance this particular off season brings, fleeced his colleagues with hidden snake-oil tactics and slick talking. After the dust settled, and the Royals were quantifiably better than they were the previous week, everyone threw Moore atop their shoulders and paraded him out of the conference room, across the lobby and into a waiting limousine where he was given a fine champagne and a big hug from owner David Glass, who wasn’t such an asshole after all, unlike what we all thought all along.
None of this happened, of course.
Glass might be a bigger eagle-faced dick than any of us had ever imagined and Moore, well, Moore mostly stood pat during the proceedings. He sat at his nice table in his swanky suit, his flattop perfectly even atop his tanned head, he sipped his mineral water from the nice glass and he nodded and smiled and looked stoic when appropriate, and he walked away having accomplished nothing.
Oh sure, there were talks. Lots of them. And some of them, maybe, by some definition, may have been a success. Seeds were planted and ideas were shared. The Mighty Royals made the baseball world take notice that “GODDAMNIT, WE’RE SERIOUS ABOUT (talking about maybe) ACQUIRING IMPACT PLAYERS NOW!”
The hot stove bubbled with the rumor that they were one of the three primary teams interested in New York Met and 2012 Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. The Royals were going to trade for him, then ink him to an extension.
Ditto Tamp Bay Ray starting pitcher James Shields. They were all up IN that shit, “a very possible and likely landing spot,” for the 31-year-old not-quite-ace (you can’t be an ace when David Price is at the front of your rotation—you just CAN’T).
The problem with both of these moves, according to most sources, is that the Mets and the Rays were both asking for SUPER-STUD-JESUS-IN-CLEATS-PROSPECT outfielder Wil Myers.
The Royals were loath to part with the young man, and rightfully so.
Dickey is 38 and, while I get that he can pitch to AARP age because he’s a knuckleballer, you’ve gotta play the averages that say sooner rather than later, despite an indefatigable rubber arm, he will no longer be able to pitch at a major league level. It’s science, plain and simple.
As for Shields, he would have only provided a very temporary respite to a team desperate for long-term, wallet-friendly solutions. (Look– that’s science, too. They’ll never be in on the “Greinke-style” free agents. But they don’t have to be. Look at the aforementioned Rays, who have built a perennial contender despite similar fiscal limitations.)
Contrast Shields with Myers, a very low-risk, as sure-as-sure-can-get prospect who is ONLY 21 (22 on Monday—Happy B-day, punkin’!) and under Royals’ control for at LEAST the next 6 years.
I wouldn’t have made either one of these moves, either.
But one needn’t trade away the future to build a better tomorrow. There were free agents to be had, too, and the Winter Meetings is prime-time for wheeling and dealing.
Pitcher Dan Haren went to the Washington Nationals on a one year, $13mil deal.
Free agent befuddlement (always decent numbers, seemingly no off field issues, doesn’t have anyone who wants to keep him) Edwin Jackson is still kicking around, and could likely be had for something akin to last year’s one year, $12mil deal. Sources have indicated that he might be responsive to something like the three year, $27mil deal the San Diego Padres offered him last year.
The Royals were even in on pitcher Ryan Dempster, it seemed, but were unwilling to go higher than the two year, $26mil they reportedly offered, OR offer a third year at a similar price.
They were also reportedly reluctant to go five years on a $70mil deal for pitcher Anibal Sanchez, which, hey, remember Gil Meche? The biggest free agent pitcher in Royals’ history was inked to a very similar contract in 2006, was driven into the ground through improper handling and fizzled before the deal finished. If, however, the Royals avoiding this deal because of THAT deal, I have lost all faith in this club.
And I might have, anyway, so maybe it doesn’t even matter.
Perhaps the most disheartening development to come out of the entire offseason was the report from Bangin’ Bob Dutton that the Royals’ purse-strings were actually drawn tighter than initially thought. The “$70 million soft ceiling” that Moore had previously spoken about? Oh, right—that was for EVERYTHING—the 40-man roster, draft signings, international development. SORRY GUYZ, WE MISSPOKE. LOLZ. TTYL! LYLAS!
After the no-fucking-shit-what-did-you-expect uproar, Glass—or whatever fucking puppets pull the strings of his decrepit brain—clarified. “OMG, PEEPZ. CHILLAX- I MEANT THAT THE $70 MILLY WAS 4 THA 40 MAN ROSTER. WE GOOD.”
But that’s still NOT good because that STILL means the team is currently at-budget. And though this flies in the face of the talks they were supposedly having with Dempster, and the interest they’re allegedly showing in Sanchez, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least because if there’s one SINGLE thing I’ve learned after 30 years of supporting this team, it’s that nothing is as it seems.
They are master manipulators and absolute deceivers, swindlers that would make even the seediest door-to-door custom bible salesman blush. In short, David Glass doesn’t give two squirts of piss about winning. He is a ruthless businessman who built his legacy and wealth using cheap labor and shrewd practices; to expect him to run his ballclub any differently makes all of us idiots.
Oh, to live the sorrowful life of a Royals fan.
Come commiserate with me on Twitter, @StanfordWhistle.