So the All Star Game is in the books—a delightfully pointless affair that serves only to illuminate the pageantry in professional sports—and we’re left with nothing but the memories. Neil Diamond warbling his way through a cacophony of boos that FOX attempted to hide. A genuinely touching moment honoring the greatest closer in the history of baseball. A ROYALS PLAYER GETTING A HIT FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE BO JACKSON. Three Royals on the field at once, nearly making my head explode. The AL winning 3-0, thereby securing home field advantage in the World Series.
You know all of this, I’m sure.
Now we’re at the unofficial midpoint—the real halfway mark having occurred weeks ago—the time at which lawn-chair GMs decide whether their team should be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, and baseball writing know-it-alls bestow meaningless “Midyear Awards” upon a bunch of millionaires who have no idea they’re being lauded with such prestigious honors.
And because I am no better than the lowest common denominator, here are my picks.
Alex F. Gordon, as he is affectionately known on Twitter (the “F” stands for Fucking, by the way), isn’t having quite the season that he had last year—or in 2011, for that matter—but he is still the only absolute, consistent threat in the lineup on a day-to-day basis. And although he’s not going to drive in as many runs as he did in either of the previous two campaigns—nor doubles, nor home runs—and his on-base-percentage has dropped a bit, he’s still the catalyst when it counts, and even at 75%, he’s the best the Royals have. For the past three seasons now, he has been one of the better leftfielders on any team, actually, something that is routinely (though not surprisingly) overlooked.
Honorable Mention: Salvador Perez
Cy Young: Greg Holland
Holland started off the year with a series of tightrope acts that made some fans long for the days of Roberto Hernandez. Be patient, I’d say. He’ll be fine, I promised. Since the end of an ugly April, he has given up a total of THREE EARNED RUNS. Three. Total. He has been as virtually unhittable as someone who gives up an occasional hit can be, and he’s been striking out hitters at a record pace. It’s scary to think of what he COULD do on a team that provided him with more save opportunities. There’s a real possibility that, under different circumstances, he could be a legitimate Cy Young candidate and not just a halfway-one in my shitty, made-up awards column.
Honorable Mention: James Shields
Biggest Revelation: Ervin Santana
…and there. I took it.
I thought it was a fairly low risk signing with a high upside potential. Either he comes in and performs like the Santana of old—which would help the Royals remain competitive OR make him tantalizing trade material at the end of July—or he just comes in and sucks, and oh well, it’s not my $13,000,000. The Royals got Vintage Santana, meaning three-times as many strikeouts as walks, an ERA nearly a full run less than his career average, and a workhorse who pitches deep in almost all of his starts. In fact, he’s been every bit the starter that James Shields has, only, you know, they didn’t have to give up one of the best prospects in baseball to get him.
Honorable Mention: Luke Hochevar! Seriously!
So the now that the awards have been dispensed—and the honored are weeping tears of joy at being selected—the question is this: should the Royals buy, sell or stand pat? Well, as much as it pains me to say it—it’s an admission of defeat, really—I am of the belief that the Royals need to sell. They need to put on their best plaid blazers, their biggest, creepy, shit-eating grins, and they need to sell the fuck out of some players.
Greg Holland is a brilliant closer, but a good closer on an aimless team is tits on a bowl. (Closers are vastly overrated in terms of importance under most circumstances anyway, but that’s another discussion for another time, perhaps.) I’m a fan, but so long, Greg.
Ervin Santana’s stock has never been higher. He’d be a legit second starter for a team in contention and COULD result in a bevy of quality prospects. (You know… assuming you trust Dayton Moore’s ability to evaluate players.) Bye-bye, Erv.
And James Shields… ha. Just kidding. Can you imagine how stabbed to death Moore would be if he dealt the centerpiece of the Wil Myers trade?! Even if trading Shields was the right move, it would never happen in a million years.
(Funny: After I finished this piece, general manager Dayton Moore explained how “winning is an 8-10 year process” and that the Royals would do what it takes to “win now” this year. I laughed until I vomited.)
Enjoy the second half, you masochists!
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