The Royals are doing it all wrong again. After a quarter-century of losing, they decide to rip off a hot streak just as this year’s trade deadline approaches. In the process, they’ve likely tricked General Manager Dayton Moore into thinking they still have a chance to sneak into the second Wild Card spot and thus stop any attempts to move Ervin Santana or members of the bullpen for someone to fill the hole at second base, or other parts that will help when the team reboots next spring. I guess the up-side is that this may keep him from making a stupid trade that we all end up hating. Well, unless he decides to go for it and trade Adalberto Mondesi and Kyle Zimmer for Chase Utley.

I get his thinking, though. The Royals have played well since the All-Star Break, even with Alex Gordon’s bat going into the deep freeze. Even with Wade Davis still sucking.1 For the next two-plus week the schedule is mostly against bottom feeders, with only a home series against Boston looking tough before a showdown with Detroit. Why not gamble that the team can stay hot? As many smarter people than me have already pointed out, though, the gap to the second Wild Card spot is still steep at five games with four other teams in the mix. And as I keep thinking, the Royals have been streaky all year. Each two-week run of great baseball seems to be sandwiched with awful stretches. Despite their good recent play, and despite the up-coming schedule, it’s tough for me to have any confidence that they will continue to put pressure on the teams in front of them.

My quibble is that Moore may not even be listening to offers anymore, as a couple national writers have suggested. Which would be epically dumb given the weakness of this year’s trade market.. Teams need pitching and the Royals have arms to move, if the front office takes a realistic view of this season’s Wild Card race. To not at least listen to offers would be nearly as dumb as making a bad trade.

What the Royals need is another week. If the trading deadline was Aug. 7 instead of this Wednesday, we’d have a better idea of where they were. But with only one game to play before moves are completed, I fear Moore’s mind is made up and he’ll politely avoid other GMs who call to inquire about Santana, et. al.

All that stated, I would not be disappointed if Moore decides to stand pat if he can’t find a great offer for Santana or one of the bullpen arms. I don’t think the Royals are a legit contender this season, but I do think winning 81, or more, games is in play. That’s not insignificant. I’m disappointed “The Process” has yet to result in a playoff berth. But ending the season with a winning record could be a stepping stone for finally competing next year. It’s not much, but at this point, I think I’ll take it. And since Moore isn’t inclined to trade parts for future help, I think I’d rather see Santana help the Royals aim at 81 wins and then get the draft pick when he signs elsewhere in the off season.

  1. With the notable exception of his last start.