Leftridge: Will the Royals Blow the Trade Deadline by Pretending to be Contenders?

Billy+ButlerlBecause it is mid-to-late July, I am obligated by the Internet Sportswriter Code to talk about whether my city’s baseball team should be A) buyers, B) sellers, or C) do nothingers as the league’s trade deadline approaches.

The Royals are doing their part by 1) floating rumors about the departure of Billy Butler, 2) making dink-and-dunk moves like the signing of two old bullpen guys, and 3) hovering in a gray area of, “maybe they’re contenders, maybe they’re not,” which is the worst thing of all because SHIT OR GET OFF THE POT.

And this is only a discussion—whether they’re buyers, sellers or neither, I mean—because they’re a .500 baseball team who has had a ten-game winning streak this season, and is also in the “time to win is NOW” mindset. If you took this very same team and moved them back five years, I think you’re sellers, for sure. Four years ago, same. Three? Probably.

Okay, look, I think this team would be a seller almost any other year under similar circumstances, the exception being last year, and this.

But this is it, right? James Shields is gone after this year. Everyone is a year older. You know what you’ve got. And frankly, you’ve got a very average ball club. The thing is, I don’t know if the powers that be feel this way. That’s why I feel like they could inadvisably be buyers.

jonnygomes4There’s been a lot of silly talk involving unremarkable Boston Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, the acquisition of whom would be a very Royellian move.

And then all of the Billy Butler talk.

Any sort of move involving Billy Butler would be some sort of push, I suppose, depending on how you view his contributions to the team and how you view any potential return from the deal.

The name most often bandied about would be a swap for Seattle Mariners infielder Nick Franklin. Franklin—who was mostly a second baseman until the Mariners signed Robinson Cano—has lots of potential, and a lot of power. He also hasn’t yet found his footing, hitting only .215 in 416 major league AB. Because he’s a middle infielder, and he’s only had 400+ plate appearances without doing much with them, lots of Royals fans are quick to make the comparison to Omaha’s own Johnny Giavotella.

The reason this isn’t quite apt is simple: the much maligned Gio is almost a full four-years older than Franklin. Franklin still has time to become something; given that the Royals have no apparent interest in Giavoltella being a long-term solution at the big league level, he will only ever become something if he catches on with another organization. (And soon. Understandably, few teams are interested in a 27-year-old “prospect.”)

Butler has indicated that he’d like the Royals to pick up his $12.5mil option for next season. For a light-hitting DH who might be on the downside of his career, this is adorable. (I’m not NEARLY as bothered by Butler as some, but even I think this is ludicrous.)

Nick-FranklinFrankly, I think the Royals would be better off this season and going forward if the jettisoned Butler for Franklin, and I think this argument can be made whether they consider themselves buyers or sellers.

So say they trade Butler. Then what?

Well, I think that they’ll target someone like Gomes, unfortunately. I think they’ll continue to rework the not-very-good lineup on a daily basis and Jarrod Dyson still won’t get a fair shake as a regular outfielder and I think they’ll hover around .500 and ultimately finish a few games above. They could easily set the record for the most losses in one-run games because, while they’re very respectable in terms of batting average, they don’t know how to hit homeruns or take walks or do any of the little things that successful but power-bereft teams do.

So that’s what I think they’ll do.

What I’d like them to do, however, is considerably different.

I’d LIKE David Glass to fire Dayton Moore and Ned Yost (and then sell the team to Cerner, but that’s probably me just being greedy). Then, I’d like him to hire Farhan Zaidi, Assistant General Manager/Director of Baseball Operations for the Oakland A’s. Then I’d like Zaidi to deal Butler, and Shields, and anyone over 35 (looking at you, Raul Ibanez), and Wade Davis and Greg Holland.

As much as I love some of these guys—well, all of these guys, but for very different reasons—none really have a part in the future of this team. And while Ibanez won’t really generate any interest (in fact, he probably just needs to be released, sad as that may be), a good GM can swing some pretty hefty returns for a proven frontline starter and two of the absolute best relievers in baseball.

johnnygomes1But sadly, this probably won’t happen. Moore is on Year Nine of his plan and the team is as good as they are bad. In his mind, they’ve got a shot at the second Wild Card spot.

So welcome to KC, Jonny Gomes! I look forward to the four homeruns you’ll add and all of the fleeting excitement they may bring.



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10 Responses to Leftridge: Will the Royals Blow the Trade Deadline by Pretending to be Contenders?

  1. Bob Sacamano says:

    Sell! Sell! Sell! This team is not going anywhere and they should get rid of Shields and Butler. Especially if they can get Franklin for Butler. Butler is washed up and maybe Franklin can figure out what it takes to hit in the majors. Give him some time with Kevin Seitzer. Oh, wait… forgot, give him some time with the next 3 or 4 royals hitting coaches.

    • Libertarian says:

      +1 on that!

      I would trade Shields and Butler in a heartbeat, but managment wont.

  2. Nick says:

    Minor quibble: “to talk about whether or not my city’s baseball team should be A) buyers, B) sellers, or C) do nothingers as the league’s trade deadline approaches.”

    The whether stands alone; the or not is not only superfluous, it’s poor grammar.

    Oh…and to your major point, it makes no difference whether the Royals ‘buy’ or ‘sell’: current management incapable of fielding a play-off caliber quality team.

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      Yeah? Well I don’t like the hyphen you put in “play-offs.” AP and Reuters agree!

      But no, seriously. Good point. I’d never considered the whether/regardless of whether/whether or not conundrum.

  3. rkcal says:

    As much as I deride Glazer for his monthly “local sports teams will suck for all eternity” posts, it’s called for with the Royals. KC Star’s Mellinger finally got some juevos and called them out in the Star; this team shrivels under pressure is completely, wants a trophy like a soccer playing pre-schooler when they do anything positive, and they’re completely comfortable with mediocrity. It starts at the top; from Glass on down they’re content with status quo.

  4. Paul says:

    Brandon, what does Gomes do for this club? He’ll be 34 in the off-season and doesn’t hit righties. If the Royals are going to be selling, at least let it be with an eye to the future.

    Personally, I prefer that the Royals be aggressive getting help for the rest of this season. Don’t give up Shields. Make a run at Zobrist whose versatility can be valuable if injuries continue to pop up. It appears a mediocre team will still make the one-game play-in. Make a run for it and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. Don’t fold the tent and go home yet. If it’s not this year we’ll still be waiting five years from now.

    Sadly, there’s no way this team can keep Billy and its unlikely anybody’s going to want him in trade. Two years ago he was the second coming of Edgar Martinez. Today he’s hitting like Edgar Winter.

  5. the dude says:

    Short answer?

    The magical eight ball says “YES”.

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