Home > Uncategorized > Spending Some of the Currency

Spending Some of the Currency

How many times have we heard Dayton Moore’s statement from his introductory press conference that pitching is the currency of baseball? We’re about to find out exactly what he meant by that as the Royals system gets more and more stocked with arms. I believe that it means that it’s important to stockpile arms as pitching is often more valuable than hitting when it comes to trade value. A 22 year-old pitcher can make fantastic trade bait when it comes time to get that big basher at the trade deadline who completes the lineup for a playoff push. The Royals are on the verge of having a fantastic problem of too many arms for not enough spots. Yes, not all of the arms are going to pan out and some are going to be destined for bullpen duty, but there still will not be room at the Major League level for all of them.

In my mind, there are the big four lefties and then there’s everyone else. I suppose you could reasonably add Jake Odorizzi to that list, but let’s focus on the left-handed starters before I move on to anyone else. My guess (and it truly is nothing more than a guess) is that two of them pan out and two of them don’t. Not panning out in this case can mean becoming a middle reliever because for the pedigree of their prospect ranking, it’s starter or bust for the purpose of this exercise. The key is for the Royals to pick the right two. Without thinking about it, I’d be sure to keep Montgomery and Lamb. Those two seem like the best combination of high floor and high ceiling. Danny Duffy had that spike in velocity in 2010 after coming back, but I’m interested to see how he does with that velocity when he reaches triple digits in innings pitched. The fourth of the lefties is Chris Dwyer who has a chance to be the best of all of them or could end up on the Rich Hill career path.

The time is going to come very soon that the Royals need something that their farm system can’t provide, be it veteran innings or a big bat in the middle of the order. That is where these pitchers come into play. To add into my desire to trade at least one of this plethora of lefties, I’m a little bit skeptical of a rotation of all left-handed starters. I get that it doesn’t matter which side they throw with as long as they get hitters out, but in a series, I think it’s important to change up looks. I love the idea of a future rotation including two or three of the many lefties in the system as well as Jake Odorizzi, Jason Adam and maybe Aaron Crow. Hard throwing righties with good off-speed stuff to go along with power lefties are a deadly combination in the playoffs. Anyway, the time will come that some of this currency will have to be exchanged for other parts.

The Royals really do have an embarrassment of riches. Beyond the big four, Odorizzi and Crow, the Royals have the aforementioned Adam who is just 18 and has drawn rave reviews since the Royals drafted him. They have Tim Melville who is a huge sleeper candidate in the Royals system in 2011. They have the two guys from rookie ball last year, Ventura and Yambati who I think are going to make the leap into star prospect status this season. They have an awful lot going on, so they will have to make some tough decisions about which starters to keep, which to sell high on and which to just sell. The thing the Royals need to be comfortable with is the idea that they may actually give someone up who goes on to be a star.

That’s not something that Dayton Moore can be terribly concerned with coming up in the next few years. Obviously, you want to keep the players who will become good to great Major Leaguers, but the fact is that you have to give up something to get something. That is why you build a pipeline of talent like it appears the Royals have done. At some point soon, the Royals goal will shift from development to winning championships. Well, I suppose the goal should always to be to win championships, but especially in baseball, you occasionally need to take a step back and rebuild. That is especially true for small market teams. Right now, as you all know, the Royals are in that mode.

One of the most famous lopsided trades of recent memory was when the Tigers traded John Smoltz to the Braves for Doyle Alexander. The Tigers won the American League East that year and put themselves in a position to win another World Series. Alexander went 9-0 down the stretch for the Tigers and garnered Cy Young attention. Obviously if they knew that John Smoltz would become John Smoltz, they probably wouldn’t have made the deal, but they made a move that put them in a position to win a championship, and that’s what it’s all about. Dayton Moore needs to understand, and I think he does, that winning a championship is difficult. He should know better than anyone that the best team in baseball from 1991-2006 or so was the Braves and they won just one World Series championship. If the opportunity arises to go and get that, you have to do it at all costs.

The difference between a team like the Royals doing it and a team like, say, the Brewers trading for Zack Greinke is that their farm system was so weak that they had to empty out pretty much any of their remaining prospects. If the Royals trade prospects for proven talent, they have another player ready to step in. You can criticize Dayton Moore for an awful lot of things in his tenure as GM, but building a farm system is clearly a strength of his and his team. It’s time to see what the return for some of those players is as the Royals try to plug whatever holes their fantastic system cannot.

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  1. SpringtownRoyal
    March 9, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Couldn’t agree more.

    To add to your point, the Royals also have a lot of guys who are currently starters, that may not have a lot of “luster” in that role, but will potentially be good in the pen, adding further depth, such as Tyler Sample, Elisaul Pimentel, Justin Marks, Will Smith, etc.

    Not to mention, a couple of pretty highly regarded guys who haven’t seen a lot of action yet in Arguellas and Crawford Simmons.

    And count me in with the group that believes Ventura and Yambati are going to be something special. I believe at least one of those guys makes BA’s top 100 list next year.

    An embarrassment of riches.

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