Our thoughts are with all those affected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon. There was a baseball game played at Fenway Park a little earlier in the day, so we'll do our best to provide some analysis.
Trailing by a run entering the ninth inning of Monday's game, the Tampa Bay Rays started to rally. Leadoff hitter Desmond Jennings led off with a clean single. Rather than foolishly try to bunt him over, Ben Zobrist got to swing away. After Jennings stole second, Zobrist lashed a single to left, scoring Jennings and tying the game. An ill-advised throw allowed Zobrist to advance to second, bringing the 3-4-5 hitters to the plate with a chance to take the lead. When Evan Longoria worked the count full, it looked like good things were about to happen.
But this is the Tampa Bay Rays' offense, the Hindenburg of the American League so far this season. Andrew Bailey threw a pitch out of the zone, Longoria failed to check his swing, and he struck out. Then Matt Joyce, who has looked lost at the plate since Opening Day, struck out looking. Finally Ryan Roberts, who has no business batting in any high-leverage situation against a right-handed pitcher, popped out meekly to second. Three Boston batters later, the Red Sox walked off with the win.
This is the kind of winter it’s been for Kansas City sports fans: The Chiefs just traded Wil Myers for Alex Smith.
At least it feels that way. It was barely two months ago that the Royals traded away half their farm system to the Tampa Bay Rays, including one of the best prospects in baseball in Myers, for a pair of established starting pitchers in James Shields and Wade Davis. Now comes the news that the Chiefs have acquired Smith from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for their second-round pick — the second pick of the round — and a conditional mid-round pick in 2014.
Both teams had a glaring hole at a key position to fill, and to fill it, each paid a desperation surtax while daring to take on one of the shrewdest organizations in their respective sports. The Royals needlessly gave up the crown jewel of their farm system and nearly caused me a nervous breakdown.
I probably should be having the same reaction to the Alex Smith trade. I mean, he’s Alex Smith. The guy who was a historic mistake as the no. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, given that the next quarterback taken in that draft was Aaron Rodgers. The guy who, as a rookie, threw one touchdown and 11 interceptions. The guy who, due to injuries and ineffectiveness, has started more than 10 games just twice in his eight-year career. The guy who held a clipboard while Colin Kaepernick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
The blockbuster trade that swapped James Shields and Wade Davis for a package of prospects headed by Wil Myers has triggered more heated reactions than nearly any other deal in recent memory. The pro-Rays side sees Myers as a future superstar, one well worth a couple of years of Shields and whatever Davis has to offer — and that's without three more attractive prospects coming to Tampa Bay. The pro-Royals side backs the acquisition of Shields and Davis as a bold and necessary move for a team that hasn't made the playoffs in Felix Hernandez's lifetime.
Read those takes. Definitely read Rany Jazayerli's opus, which examines the trade from multiple angles, tying in the Royals' long history of losing, and how surrendering Wil Myers and three other young, cheap players with upside will likely do more harm than good. What got me thinking isn't player service time, the Royals' window of opportunity, Myers's swing plane, or the success rates for prospects — it's something far less specific.
It's the rigid and binary ways that we — fans, media, even general managers — think about team-building. And how the most effective decision-makers rarely consider only two possibilities when making a move.
As the Winter Meetings near their end here in Nashville, the latest buzz has Zack Greinke potentially going somewhere other than the Dodgers. Which seems impossible, really.
The team with unlimited money and both a need and desire for a top-flight pitcher to pair with Clayton Kershaw would seem unbeatable in any bidding war for the top free-agent starter on the market. But multiple theories have floated as to why a top-dollar offer to play for a glamour franchise might not be enough. The L.A. Times’s Dylan Hernandez notes the Dodgers' reluctance to include no-trade clauses as the reason Greinke might sign elsewhere for less money — and why alternatives such as Anibal Sanchez and Ryu Hyun-jin could also have second thoughts. (In the case of Hyun-jin, he'd return to South Korea, and the Dodgers would be refunded their $25.7 million posting fee, if the two sides can't come to an agreement by 2 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday). USA Today’s Bob Nightengale says Greinke's potential reluctance to go (back) to the L.A. area might simply have more to do with being more comfortable in Texas. Texas's more favorable tax code could help the Rangers, too.