One of the things I disliked the most about not having my laptop for several days was trying to follow Hot Stove news. I generally obsess about the Winter Meetings like some people go bonkers over Presidential debates, so this was a tough pill to swallow.
When I got my computer back, however, I jumped into the internet with both feet and consumed as much as I could about the meetings, and the one persistent thing that kept jumping out at me was how scary the Kansas City Royals are to me as a Tigers fan.
September 24, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) receives congratulations from designated hitter Billy Butler (16) after hitting a home run during the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Dayton Moore has been assembling this young cache of talent for many years, with the rumblings that one day the sleeping giant would awake. We knew about the prospects, about Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas and Aaron Crow, but they were still in the minors, not nearly close enough to help the team. And then, Billy Butler started mashing. Hosmer and Moustakas have begun their development into good starting position players. Greg Holland and Crow and even occasionally Luke Hochevar looked like they could be dependable pitchers. They even started acquiring talented young players like Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain. And now, horror of horrors, they’ve emerged as contenders for big-name players.
The first rumor that chilled me was how the Mets are somehow trying to deal away reigning NL Cy Young winner RA Dickey, and how the Royals have the pieces to accomplish this. As a Detroit Tigers fan, do I want to see my team flail futilely against two different types of knuckleballs and offspeed pitches multiple times a year? For several years, because knuckleballers maintain their effectiveness for quite some time? Emphatically, no, no I don’t.
Secondly, there was talk of a Wil Myers for James Shields deal. That is enough to cause a cold sweat to break out. Big Game James Shields, veteran of the AL East wars, hurler of multiple complete games, darling of the peripheral-stat-lovers, coming to a division rival? Potentially helping to shut down the Tigers in a race for the AL Central title in September? Ugh. Sure, the Royals would be surrendering their uber-prospect, but sometimes trading a young player of the ilk pays dividends later on (Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller, anyone?). Shields playing in Kansas City is a nightmarish prospect.
Third, there was the talk of “hitting more homers.” Ned Yost, purveyor of doubles, good baserunning, and small-ball fundamentals, made it clear that this offseason he wanted to add more power to his team. Can you imagine what a lineup would look like if they added another bat capable of thumping 30 homers? Hosmer and Moustakas are still developing their power (“sophomore slump” comes to mind especially when thinking of Hosmer) and Billy Butler has now found his. Add to that the prospect of having Escobar, Cain, and Salvador Perez already on base? The potential to add more power, and having a deep enough farm system where that is a distinct possibility, is a harrowing notion.
Lastly, even if they don’t even acquire anyone else, they still have Mike Montgomery and Wil Myers ready to come up and play. Johnny Giovatella is waiting his opportunity, too. They picked up Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie to solidify their rotation, and now they’re looking at Shaun Marcum. Heck, Alex Gordon is now a terrific hitter and one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, and he’s just entering his prime.
This squad has the potential to be very, very good. Better than Minnesota. Better than Cleveland. Better than Chicago. And, if not soon than surely in two or three years, better than Detroit. This team scares the bejeezus out of me.