Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What the Royals' trade means for the Twins

The buzz around the baseball world is the big trade between the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays. Kansas City sent some of the best young prospects in the game to Tampa Bay for two pitchers, James Shields and Wade Davis. The Rays pick up last year's minor league player of the year Wil Myers, pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, and two other minor league players.

For the Royals, the future is now as they bet some of their best prospects on contending in 2013. Kansas City hasn't had a winning team since 2003 and they are desperate to get back to the postseason. The addition of Shields and Davis to the pitching staff in KC should help their team to improve but only time will tell if the Royals gave up too much to reach this goal.

After looking at the AL Central last year, it is hard not to think the division could be winnable for any team and that includes the Royals. Since the Tigers made the World Series last season, it is easy to think that they will be the favorite again in 2013. The Royals have been busy this offseason by signing Jeremy Guthrie and acquiring Ervin Santana. This should help in their hunt for October baseball but it still doesn't seem like it will be enough to pass the Tigers.

So what does this newest blockbuster trade mean for the Twins and the rest of the AL Central?

Adding Shields and Davis will help the Royals to improve but this is a team that finished 16 games out of first place. Last season, Shields had a WAR of 2.2 and Davis had a WAR of 1.4; so by doing the math, it doesn't seem like the Royals are going to be able to overcome that much of a deficit. They would need some more help from some of the other pieces on their club.

Eric Hosmer was supposed to have a tremendous year in 2012 but that didn't happen. He could be in line for a bounce back season to help the Royals on the offensive side of the ball. This is still a club that had a run differential of -70 so they are going to need more than just help from Hosmer. Other everyday players are going to need to step up and help the club to win.

From the Twins point of view, it sure seems nice to see some of the best prospects in the minor leagues heading to the AL East. It's hard to know if they will amount to anything at this point. In a couple of seasons, the Royals will be left without Shields and their farm system will look a little emptier. With all of the moves in the last couple of weeks, it's much easier to get excited about the future of the Twins than it is to be excited about the future of the Royals.

Shields hasn't exactly been a Twins killer during his career but this could change now that the club will have to face him on a more consistent basis. He has a 4-2 record against Minnesota but that comes with a 4.08 ERA and a 2.19 SO/BB rate in just over 70 innings pitched. Last year he started two games against the Twins and threw 16.0 innings by allowing four runs and striking out nine.

On the other hand, Davis has yet to lose to the Twins with a 2-0 record but he has a much smaller sample size of 30.1 innings. His ERA of 4.75 is higher than Shields against the Twins and he has a 1.22 SO/BB rate. The Twins offense wasn't exactly out of this world last year but they will have to find some way to compete against the likes of Shields and Davis.

The Twins and the Royals finished at the bottom of the AL Central last season and each team is trying to get back to the top in a different way. The Twins have traded away some of the big league players to add some strength to their farm system. This likely means the club is looking at being more competitive in 2014 versus 2013. Kansas City has traded away many of their top prospects for a chance to make a run in 2013.

Both of this paths might work for the clubs involved but I'd much rather be in the shoes of a Twins fan. If Minnesota had traded away the likes of Miguel Sano, Alex Meyer, and other prospects for Shields and Davis, I probably would have been able to live with the deal but I wouldn't have been happy about it. One good starting pitcher and one mediocre starting pitcher aren't worth betting the farm.

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