Dayton Moore is conflicted…and so am I.
Early Monday afternoon, the General Manager of the World Champion Kansas City Royals sat in the home dugout in Kauffman Stadium and told the gathered members of the media that he wasn’t about to “dismember” his team by trading off pending free agents.
In that same session, however, Moore declared that no one on the roster was untouchable.
So, Dayton, which one is it?
Well, if Moore’s at all like I am, it’s a bit of both.
To fans like me who have seen this team throughout the entirety of its 47-year existence, it’s been one helluva ride.
Just seven years after the franchise came into being, it was in the playoffs. Just 16 years into its life, it was a World Champion.
Then came a 29-year drought.
No one ever said that “helluva” ride was without its brutal bumps in the road. Heck, if you’re one disposed to the idea that Kansas City is the “land of the orange barrel,” it seemed as if the road to Kauffman Stadium was littered with those pesky suckers from 1986 through 2013.
Then came the miracles of 2014 and 2015, and the old two-lane gravel road seemingly became a four-lane interstate in the blink of an eye.
But now, with his team under .500 and a trade deadline rapidly approaching, Moore finds himself trying to decide whether he’d rather continue to travel down the road he’s spent 10 years in building — or to take a moment to do some quick maintenance on Royal Way.
As I mentioned, it’s a tough choice. Heck, a few short hours ago — when my heart was winning its perennial battle with my head — I was ready to “ride it out” with this crew, hoping to see an August and September run to a wildcard spot.
Then came a four-run uprising by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first inning of Monday’s series-opener at The K…and my head took over.
Yes, Dayton, it’s easy to be conflicted. Yes, Dayton, it’s easy to talk of not dismembering anything at one moment, only to say no one is untouchable the next.
But for the sake of Royals fans everywhere, the latter approach — listening to any and all offers for any and all of your players — is what Moore needs to follow over the remainder of this week.
Unlike one year ago, where Moore was able to bring Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist to Kansas City via high-profile trades, it’s a seller’s market in 2016. There aren’t nearly as many attractive prospects for Moore to pursue this time around — and his roster has as many as five players on it that would command differing levels of “return value.”
Heck, with the haul Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees got from the Chicago Cubs today in return for Aroldis Chapman, just think for a moment what all-world closer Wade Davis might bring the Royals.
And no, I’m not suggesting that the Royals deal Davis. But I am saying that you have to listen. A year ago, the Royals unloaded five pitchers — Aaron Brooks, Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, Sean Manaea and Cody Reed — who have started games in the big leagues since being shipped out of the Royals organization.
Read that again really slowly. Five pitchers. All have been starters for their new teams in the last calendar year.
Now think of how you’ve felt as the Royals have paraded Chris Young, Dillon Gee and seemingly a cast of a thousand others to the mound this season in the fifth-starter slot.
Yeah, you have to at least listen for offers for Davis — who some baseball experts say could draw as many as four top prospects in return.
The chance to restock the farm system with a pitcher or two — particularly with the big club and minor league affiliates not exactly teeming with decent starting pitchers — makes a lot of sense. Re-pave a section of that road that was once fancy and new, and you’ve got a chance to make history again — or so the theory goes.
And Davis isn’t the only Royal who could draw interest.
Designated hitter Kendrys Morales. Starting pitcher Edinson Volquez. Reliever Luke Hochevar. All are pending free agents — the guys Moore insisted he wouldn’t dismember his club through trading en masse. Each, however, would bring a nice return.
The heart says “you can’t trade Davis, Hoch, KMo and Volquez! They were all part of our championship!”
The head, however, needs to be concerned with making sure it’s not another 29 years before the Royals sniff another title run.
Cueto and Zobrist aren’t here anymore. Neither are Johnny Gomes, Jeremy Guthrie, Omar Infante, Ryan Madson, Franklin Morales or Alex Rios. Nori Aoki, Billy Butler, Erik Kratz and James Shields were jettisoned after the 2014 World Series run.
Time moves on. Teams change. And you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse.
It’s hard to argue that the 2016 Royals are going to be much better.
Mike Moustakas is gone for the year. Lorenzo Cain will return, but the slightest tweak of the hamstring will end his year. There’s no decent fifth starter in sight. Alex Gordon looks more lost than he has since his days as a third baseman.
Those are facts. They’re things you can see, things your head is trying to relay to your heart.
But your heart, probably just like Moore’s, isn’t quite ready to dismember a champion quite so soon after an 800,000-person party on a wonderful Kansas City November day.
If, however, you don’t want that stretch of road leading to Kauffman Stadium — that Royal Way — to end up like the awful section of I-70 just outside of Columbia, Mo., it’s time to start thinking about 2017.
Return to glory? That’s the goal.
And it’s Moore’s job to get us all there.