Such is baseball.
Three years after parading the Commissioner’s Trophy through downtown Kansas City, three years after steamrolling everybody on the way to their second World Series title, the Royals have been hinting a rebuilding effort is at hand…at some point. The latest signs of that were the packaging of Jon Jay to the Diamondbacks for a pair of prospects and the pitcher-heavy draft completed earlier this week.
As was the case last year, any move towards a rebuild has been countered by the use of players like Paulo Orlando, Abraham Almonte, Ryan Goins and others who shouldn’t be any factors in the team’s long-term turnaround plan.
The Royals should be looking to blow up the team and start fresh — something that honestly should have happened already, as in before the 2017 trade deadline. I say “should” because, well, I’ll believe it when I see it.
As a Royals fan, I’ve already mentally moved from the glory days of 2014 and 2015 to visions of the 1990s and early 2000s, which could rank as some of the worst on-field baseball and team mismanagement any major league team has seen in history — especially for its duration. I’m OK with players like Whit Merrifield, Alcides Escobar, Salvador Perez, Danny Duffy, Kelvin Herrera and even Alex Gordon getting dangled for prospects (yes, Alex Gordon, although his return would probably be dampened a ton based off last year’s horrible stats).
But I’m not ready to see Mike Moustakas get traded.
In my brain, I know it should happen. He probably won’t get the return we’d like (thank you, Manny Machado), even though he had a career year last year, could surpass those stats this year, plays strong defense at third and is a great clubhouse guy. Dealing Moustakas, along with the aforementioned players, would essentially formalize the rebuild and signal the championship days are officially at an end.
I just don’t want to see Moose go. But such is baseball.
I remember seeing Moustakas in Omaha shortly after he was demoted in 2014. It was hard to tell exactly how he felt about his demotion — kind of hard to gauge that from the outfield berm seats — but he handled himself professionally and was recalled to the majors within 10 days. The stories about how he got to Omaha and how he performed once back in KC are pretty well known, so I won’t rehash them — but Moose became a player who was able to channel his intensity (to use the Force for good, if you will) and improve through the rest of the season, even if his batting average stayed below .220. His postseason batting average wasn’t stunning, but he certainly had a flair for the big moment against the Angels and Orioles.
Over the past several years, I’ve come to be impressed with Moose’s attitude, the intensity and his willingness to get better (witnessed by his defensive improvements well before last year’s power surge, which came after a serious injury that cut his 2016 season down to 27 games). One of the causes for which he became an on-air spokesman, foster care, has been a significant part of our family as well.
Look: the rebuild should be coming.
It should have already happened. You can’t try to reach the MLB playoffs while playing a lot of prospects. You’re fooling yourself if you believe that — and Royals management was either fooling themselves or trying to fool us when they continually rolled out that line last year.
The “championship window” should have lasted longer than two years. At least based on the hype from early this decade.
Such is baseball. And at least we Royals fans were able to enjoy a title and back-to-back World Series appearances.
It will be very interesting to see how this rebuild goes. Hopefully the Royals are blessed with good fortune by the baseball gods — especially because they haven’t in a lot of prior drafts. Hopefully upcoming trades and the next couple drafts fully restock one of the worst farm systems in the game. And hopefully a championship window begins reopening at the start of the next decade, although that’s a really rapid turnaround from where the Royals currently stand.
It will also be strange — and sad — to see more of the championship core in other uniforms representing contending teams. For me, it will be extremely bittersweet to see Moustakas in another uniform. But when he returns to Kauffman Stadium, I’ll have my Moose call ready.
Such is baseball.