Home > Uncategorized > The Countdown Can Begin – How Long Until it’s Without Zack?

The Countdown Can Begin – How Long Until it’s Without Zack?

The Royals Spring Training schedule was released yesterday and appropriately (for me anyway), pitchers and catchers are set to report on Valentine’s Day. If you’re reading this blog, you probably love the Royals as much as I do, so let’s be sure to get the team something extra special this year. Including today, we now have just 75 days until four of my favorite words in the English language are heard: pitchers and catchers report.

Those 75 days, though, will be long and arduous. At first glance, 75 days doesn’t seem like all that much, but as you all know, it most definitely is. If you work a standard 40 hour work week, you will work 416 hours (time off for the holidays) between the beginning of today’s work day and the day pitchers and catchers report. Depressed yet?

This isn’t going to be my post of ways to make it through an increasingly depressing off-season, but I will offer some suggestions. If you’re a sports fan, you’re in pretty good shape to make it through between now and Opening Day. Football lasts until early January for most fans and into February for some. Then the college basketball season is heating up and by the time the tournament is over, we should be about a week into the baseball season. If you’re simply a baseball fan, I recommend frequenting message boards, blogs and watching MLB Network.

But alas, the beginning of this post was just a contrived effort to work my way into a post related to Zack Greinke. According to Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman, Greinke is ready to go. For a few minutes I rationalized to myself that he was ready to go for the season and was excited again to be a Kansas City Royal. As reports came out, though, that he would probably accept a trade to even the Yankees, I resigned myself to the fact that he just wanted out of Kansas City.

Up until this point, the idea of a Greinke trade was pretty much predicated on the comments he made in The Star a few months back about how he didn’t want to go through yet another rebuilding project and all that jazz. I’ve heard from some people in the know that those comments, while troubling, weren’t nearly as troubling as much of the media and fanbase made them out to be. They were just a result of Greinke saying what he was feeling at the time. Well, the recent reports that have come out have pretty much quelled the quiet enthusiasm that he might be a Royal for a long time.

So now, the off-season has taken new meaning. In 75 days when pitchers and catchers report, I would now be surprised if Zack Greinke is on the mound in Surprise unless it’s for the Rangers. I’ve gone over trade scenarios for Zack Greinke a couple of times in this blog. Some new scenarios have popped up, though, since it’s being reported that he wouldn’t be opposed to playing for the Yankees. I’m just not sure that their system matches up well with the Royals, but look for teams like the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Braves, Rangers, Angels, Cardinals, Nationals and Diamondbacks to potentially get involved if the sweepstakes really begin to heat up.

I guess in my rambling about the off-season and Zack Greinke, what I’m getting at is that if the Royals trade Zack, optimism will be about as low as it’s been in a long time. Last off-season, we as fans had a pretty realistic fear that the Royals would be terrible. We know, though, that one day out of every five, we had a real chance to see greatness. We knew that we were waiting for Opening Day and we’d get to see Zack Greinke against Justin Verlander. For once, we believed legitimately that the Royals had the superior starting pitcher on Opening Day for the first time since probably Kevin Appier took the hill for the Royals.

Now, if Greinke is traded, our off-season will be looking forward to someone else on Opening Day? Who will that be? I suppose it could be Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies or any of a number of free agent possibilities. It could be a player received in the Greinke deal. Before you get too depressed reading this, remember that in the long run, trading Greinke is right for the organization.

Right now, the Royals have the best farm system in all of baseball and one of the best in the last ten years. The system is loaded with position players and pitchers both. The balance of the system is just one of the ingredients that makes it great. Imagine adding four pieces to that. There aren’t too many prospects who could crack the top three or four of the Royals system, but imagine adding one who could. In a deal being discussed around the internet with the Rangers, the Royals would potentially receive the Rangers top three prospects plus other players.

The point of this all is that as the offseason goes on, it’s important to keep the big picture in perspective. As fans, it’s often difficult to think like that. We want to win every single year and it frustrates us when our team can’t. The sad reality is that not every team can win every year. Personally I’d rather have three or four outstanding teams followed by two or three down years than five to seven mediocre years winning between 80 and 85 games. That’s where this organization is headed.

The way this team is being built, it’s actually being built for sustained success. The minor league system is beginning to not be top heavy anymore. There are now a second group of prospects forming in the lower minors with guys like Adam, Ventura, Yambati, Eibner and such. So I guess in a way this post did turn out as a primer on how to get through the off-season.

When you’re down about missing baseball and then get even more down when you think about how bad the Royals may be and have been, read their top 10 prospects on Baseball America, check out Rany’s thoughts, read Greg’s blog or just check out Twitter where nobody can say a bad thing about the direction of the Royals. Yeah, the idea of losing the first ace we’ve had in 15 years isn’t the most uplifting thought to carry you through the off-season, but better times are ahead. If someone had told me two years ago that Zack Greinke was the key to the future, I’d have bought into that without question. I didn’t know at the time, though, that it would be the return on the trade that would be the key to the Royals future.

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