Finally, it happened. And again I went to bed about 20 minutes too early and missed the immediate buzz.
The Royals sent Zack Greinke (and Yuniesky Betancourt) to Milwaukee for a package of four young players. When I worked through my Twitter feed Sunday morning, I was flooded with news of the trade. First were the rumors, which began just after I went to bed Saturday night. As I caught up to real time, the news was getting locked in. Within half an hour, the trade was confirmed by multiple sources. Again, we live in a crazy age for disseminating and gathering information.
My first reaction was shock. Milwaukee had never been mentioned by those in the know, or even those not in the know who were willing to hazard a guess. It was always Texas, Toronto, and the Yankees as the most likely trade partners, with Atlanta, Washington, and the Dodgers listed as other teams who could get involved. Where the hell did the Brewers come from?
Me second reaction was confusion. Who the hell were these guys the Royals were getting in return? Had Dayton Moore pulled off a coup, had he done about as good as he could do, or was this the latest trade in which the Royals got nothing back for their best trading chip? Thus, I relied on what the Twitterati were saying. Early returns were not good for the Royals. Opinion seemed to be Moore didn’t get enough back for a 27-year-old Cy Young winner who had four plus pitches and a favorable contract. But I wanted to hear what Rany Jazayerli said before I got depressed.
When Rany did check in, he thought the four players the Royals brought in had their merits. Kevin Goldstein loved the talent the Royals got. Keith Law hated it.
What the hell was I supposed to think?
After reading dozens of articles about the trade, my third reaction holds: I don’t think the Royals got enough in return for Greinke. If you’re going to trade your franchise centerpiece exclusively for prospects and players with limited time in the Majors, at least one of those should be a sure-thing, can’t-miss, gem-of-the-organization type player. None of the new Royals fit that bill. If you want MLB talent in return for your ace, you should be getting someone else who has All-Star potential. None of the new Royals fit that bill, either.
It feels like Dayton Moore panicked a bit and forgot he was dealing from a position of strength, both in terms of Greinke’s contract status and the depth of talent already in the Royals’ minor league system. Sure, Greinke announced last week he wanted out of Kansas City. Fine. Work the, ahem, process. To be fair, maybe Dayton did talk to a bunch of teams and Milwaukee had the best offer of talent and an agreement from Greinke to go there. But at least one source said there were other teams who would have liked the chance to talk to Moore and see if they could beat Milwaukee’s offer. Use the off-season, play other organizations off each other, and get the best possible package of talent.
I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed the Royals lost the face of their franchise, yet again. I’m disappointed that it seems like, yet again, they did not get an adequate return in the exchange.
But I’ll reserve final judgement. The Royals weren’t going to win this year. Now they’re going to suck ass this year. But one, maybe two of the minor league prospects will go north with the team this March. A couple more might come up over the course of the season. A couple more could make their debuts in September. Spring training 2012 should be an exciting time when this much-hyped flood of talent hits the shores. Maybe the Royals didn’t get a star from Milwaukee Sunday. But perhaps they got enough pieces that, with what they already have on the farm, they can field a team that can contend in two or three years.
These are the Royals, though. I’m not holding my breath.
Update (9:45 AM, Dec. 20): Poz has weighed in. He may have wiped out any optimism I had left.