Well, the Royals actually did it. They went out and got an ace, something we have all clamored for, but deep down figured wouldn’t happen.
Johnny Cueto has been linked as the Royals top target for a while now as staring pitching (fewest innings per start (5.5) and quality starts (40) in all of baseball) has long been the team’s biggest need this season. But, somehow, someway, they’ve managed, thanks mostly to arguably the best bullpen ever:
- 20-5 record
- 13 ERA (second best is 2.68)
- .202 AVG against (second best to Houston, .200)
- .584 OPS against
- 1.05 WHIP
So good, in fact, that it makes up for some of the rotation’s deficiencies, carrying the staff to an AL-best 3.43 ERA. The rotation’s struggles haven’t hurt the Royals, much, as they have best record in the American League (60-38) – with an 8-game divisional lead for the first time since 1980…BEFORE I WAS BORN; and they’re the World Series favorites, according to Vegas.
And now, they have a hired gun ace to anchor the staff down the stretch and toe the hill as the No. 1 in October.
In return, the Royals traded oft-mentioned in trade rumors, Brandon Finnegan (2.59 ERA in 31.1 big-league innings), the resurgent former Top 20 prospect in ALL of baseball, John Lamb (9-1 with a 2.67 ERA in hitter-friendly the Pacific Coast League) and another left-handed pitcher, Cody Reed (had a 2.14 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 67.1 innings in Class A before a promotion to Double-A) who climbed up the ranking to No. 10 in Baseball America’s Midseason Top 10 Royals prospects.
Let’s break it down.
I have held steady on my take that the Royals would NOT trade for an ace because it didn’t seem like a Dayton Moore move to do in season AND because the Royals rotation was all of a sudden full with the return of Jason Vargas, who went down again, on the day of his return (see ya in 2017, Vargy). At that point, I thought it was more possible, but still unlikely. I just didn’t see it happening.
But, now that it has happened, I LOVE it. Despite thinking it wouldn’t happen, I hoped it would, because there are no such things as guarantee’s in sports, and you have jump through that window when it is open. The Royals get Cueto, who is 60-31 with a 2.51 ERA over the last five seasons with two Top 5 Cy Young finishes and doing so despite pitching in an inferior league, Cueto has managed all of his success while pitching in a home park that has yielded the most home runs of any park since it has been open,
The Royals have a window that will still be open after this year, but it doesn’t matter what you gave up, win now. Even better? The Royals Top 3 prospects – SS Raul Mondesi, Jr and pitchers Kyle Zimmer and Sean Manaea – were not involved in the deal.
And in the symbolism of what this means, that we’re putting all of our chips on the table and are buyers at the deadline after so many years of being sellers, is simply amazing. Think about last year at this time? We wanted to sell off James Shields and everybody.
Johnny Cueto will likely demand somewhere upwards of $25 million dollars per year as a free agent after the season ends. His three months here may be worth a couple more wins, but in the post season, that could mean the world. His impact here will end when the season ends, but if he can take Yordano Ventura under his wing down the stretch, his impact will be here for a LONG TIME.
Ventura is coming off his best start in a long time on Sunday with seven innings of one-run ball, striking out five off the heels of a demotion to the minor leagues that lasted less than 24 hours.
“It was the old Ventura,” manager Ned Yost said. “That’s good news for us, bad news for everyone else.”
If, it is in fact the old Ventura, add in Danny Duffy, who Saturday produced his fourth straight quality start for the first time in his career and has posted a 2.15 ERA, 1.115 WHIP in six post-DL starts, lowering his ERA & WHIP from 5.87 and 1.70 to 4.03 and 1.41, “Steady Eddy” Volquez (10-5, 3.21 ERA) and Cueto, who is 14-6 with a 2.68 ERA, 1.101 WHIP, and a 7.8 K/9 in his career against American League teams, and that’s a formidable October 4-man rotation.
“It’s a good time to be a Kansas City Royal,” First baseman Eric Hosmer added.
Also, WIN. GAMES. Hang banners.
Conrad McGorkin says:
As Royals fans, we should be very aware that opportunity for postseason play can be tough to come by. Our window is NOW! Considering the moves the organization made for Shields prior to 2013, and in this past off-season, it seems they realize it, too. Detroit is seemingly no threat, especially without Miguel Cabrera, and we currently have a 7.5-game lead on the A.L. Central 2nd place, Twins. There has been no better chance to be division winners in Kansas City since 1985. What guarantees do we have that we will be 20 games over .500 and holding a firm lead in our division in the near future? None.
Johnny Cueto, David Price and Cole Hamels being the top targets. I list these players in this order based on what I feel their asking prices will be. Cueto should be (and was!) the best player to target based on the cost to acquire him. A better utilty player would be my second target. While Omar Infante and Alex Rios have been disappointments, they aren’t really hurting the team. A quality player that could share time with both players would be ideal. Ben Zobrist?
The Royals did not give up a lot in this deal, considering, the Royals do not have a player in their system that should be labeled “off-limits,” despite speculation that Dayton Moore told teams that Mondesi, and Zimmer were unavailable.
Prospects come and go, Pennants fly forever.
This is exactly what this team needed. This was the right thing to do. Even if he was to come in and get bombed (highly unlikely), it was still the right move.
The last 21 teams that have traded for an “ace” or front line starter at, or near the deadline, NOT ONE of them made the World Series. But, each of those teams did the right thing. Sitting on your hands, when you can potentially make your team better, is no way to operate as well. You have to try when a WORLD SERIES TITLE can be the end result. A team acquiring an ace at the deadline is bound to get the payoff with a World Series ring at some point. Why not us?
Lets go ROYALS! Clap. Clap. Clapclapclap.
Joe Hayles says:
I’m a pretty conservative guy. I’m not much of a gambler; I’m more of an investor. I prefer to focus on odds and statistics and use them to give myself the highest probability to succeed. I’m much more comfortable with my eggs in multiple baskets. And in the same manner, I’m not usually one to cheer trading away prospects for a Rent-a-Player. Three months of having a good player, even a great player, wearing my uniform just doesn’t seem likely to produce as much value as multiple seasons of multiple guys, even if they may be lesser players. Say our great player can do amazing things in the next three months and can somehow produce +1 WAR for the team, I see a strong likelihood that three well thought of prospects can produce more than that same 1 WAR while under team control. Over the course of the teams’ control of all players involved, we will likely get less overall value, which in most circumstances equates to losing the trade in my mind.
That being said, I’m completely behind this trade. The guy has easily been a Top 5 starter in all of baseball over the last handful of years. A true Ace, something the Royals haven’t had since Greinke. He’s someone who can take the ball every fifth day and give Ned a chance to sit back and enjoy the game without having to have one hand on the bullpen phone. I’m not saying our bullpen can’t handle it, they’ve done pretty damn well so far in cleaning up after our wobbly rotation. But as the long season drags on, they are bound to start getting fatigued and may falter when they are needed most, the 2015 Postseason.
I hope the best for the kids we’re sending to Cincy, and while I believe that they will produce more overall statistical value for the Reds than Cueto will while in Royals Blue, now is the time to go all in. It’s time to give up extra future value to bring a portion of it forward to today. While adding a top notch starter does not guarantee post-season victories (…know what I mean, Oakland??), I firmly believe that there will never be a better chance for the Royals to raise a second World Series Championship banner. Next season could be a possibility if things go right, but this year they ARE going right. We’ve had a weak rotation, we’ve had a rollercoaster offense, but through it all, we just keep winning. Everything is falling our way and that is the sign to me that this is the year we make the push and actually succeed.
I believe that Lamb will be a big league starter. I believe that Finnegan may be a big league starter and if not, a damn fine MLB reliever. Reed seems to be figuring it out this season, so hopefully he can have a productive career. Together, I have no doubt that they will “out value three months of Johnny Cueto. After this season, while those kids will continue to play and grow and produce for their new club, Cueto will never again put on a Royals jersey. Let’s just hope that from time to time, he still finds time to wear his 2015 World Series Championship Ring! #ForeverRoyal
Sarah Davis says:
The Royals getting Johnny Cueto may very well be a game changer. It’s not that they went out and got a number one pitcher, they got a real ace. AND, I think between him and Volquez, it’ll help Yordano Ventura much like James Shields did last year. Now all they need is a solid utility guy and they’re set for a deep playoff run.
Let’s look at the pain first. John Lamb has figured it out and could have been a real option to be in the rotation next year. However, the emergence of Kris Medlen has mitigated some of the issues in the rotation for next year. Now that Jason Vargas won’t be pitching again until 2017, at best, Lamb would have been a No. 5 starter next year. With the Royals being ever more attractive to free agents, his spot in the rotation would have been tenuous.
Brandon Finnegan has been a thrower more than a pitcher that sure looks like a reliever. This probably isn’t fair because he hasn’t had the chance to start with the Royals. Still, he doesn’t look like he has the control to be a starter, so the Royals were doing the wise thing and getting what they could out of him. Of the three, he is the highest pick and opened the season as the Royals No. 4 prospect, but will be the least likely to be missed.
Cody Reed is really intriguing. If you like Lamb, then you have to like Reed a little more. He is only 22 (Lamb is 25) and is 6’5″ and 220. He is the projectable-type the Royals have drafted a lot. He struggled his first two years, but he has turned it around and has a similar WHIP to Lamb and he now pitches at NW Arkansas. It is as hitter-friendly – if not more than – as Omaha. Of the three, he would scare me the most to turn into something.
Lefties are tough to find and the Royals are giving up three good ones. However, it is stretching it to say any of them are going to be great. The Royals obviously protected the big-time prospects (Mondesi, Zimmer, Miguel Almonte and Manaea). However, they also protected young arms like Forrest Griffin (former first round pick who just turned 20) and Scott Blewett (another big pitcher like Reed who is doing well at Lexington and is only 19), even if Griffin is struggling. They also drafted three pitchers in the top sixty-four (64) picks in the 2015 draft.
The Reds also kicked in some cash to improve the level of the prospects. Instead of getting a good draft pick, the Reds got three arms that will really increase their depth with two of them ready to help the team next year.
On the other hand, the Royals slightly increase their already good odds of making the playoffs, while making them a tougher out once they get there. There is no guarantee of playoff success with adding an ace, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt. Toronto’s addition of David Cone is an example of helping a team win a World Series, but there have been plenty of flat tires along the way. Yet, the past doesn’t predict the future. It is merely a reference point as the Royals illustrated by showing what can happen with a Wild Card team.
James Shields, Wade Davis and Johnny Cueto are pitchers that make you a serious contender. You don’t know how – or when – prospects like Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery, Lamb, Jake Odorizzi and Finnegan will react to having all of the weight on their shoulders. The Royals have smartly blended the future with immediate help to create seemingly the best American League team.
This move obviously helps the Royals and their chances this year, but it doesn’t close the window. Dayton Moore has proven that he can find arms that will help the team and why would we believe it can’t happen for at least the next two years. Free agents who are not overly expensive will be more than happy to sign up for a few years of a big ballpark with great defense AND camaraderie. The team has been replete with them.
No one knows the future, but you have to put yourself in the best position possible and Dayton Moore has done that. Yes, we have a window but you need to make that window as wide as you can. If you can’t stretch out the years, then make the time that you have the best that you can. And the Royals have done that.
Justin Rhodes says:
When I first heard the news, I didn’t really care who we gave up to get him. I love the fact the Royals are finally buyers at the trade deadline. Cueto gives us an ace that you can trust to go out there against anyone and he gives you a shot to win the game. The addition of a true No. 1 certainly helps strengthen the entire rotation simply by bumping everyone down.
We are “all in” boys and girls and it’s gonna be a fun fall for the boys in blue again this year.
Now, for what we gave up…:
My initial thought was “ugh” when I saw Finny and Lamb were attached to the deal. But, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I like it! We added an ace without giving up ANY of our Top 3 prospects. Finny may never be more than a good reliever and Lamb is already 25 and has already had one Tommy John.
At the end of the day, I really like the trade, if we win the World Series everyone will LOVE the trade. This is the kind of move we desperately needed. While it’s unlikely that we resign Cueto after this year, I wouldn’t completely rule it out. The Royals are currently fourth in AL in attendance and have sold out 16 games this year. Last week, we sold out three games in the middle of the week against the Pirates. When was the last time that happened?
The times are-a-changing and it’s about damn time! Let the Hunt for Blue October begin, again.
Follow us on Twitter: @KCSportsNation
Follow Brian on Twitter: @briangraham624
Follow Conrad on Twitter: @ConradMcGorkin
Follow Sarah on Twitter: @Sarah_Davis98
Follow Moped on Twitter: @kcbrian44
Follow Joe Hayles on Twitter: @Joe_Hayles