Mr. Moore. Please bring back Ervin Santana. Please.
I’m 32 years old. As a Royals fan that means I’ve watched my favorite baseball team go from being an annually dominant throughout my childhood to being an annual disappointment in my adult life.
It wasn’t right away, mind you. It was a slow and agonizing process. Like watching a car wreck in slow motion, Royals fans were helpless (and hapless) spectators.
This last year Dayton Moore finally did something shocking and once thought a pipe dream: he put together a winning team. Not an anomalous winner like in ‘03- a team that had no business being in the playoff hunt.
No, a solid, legitimate contender, balanced with homegrown talent and top-tier players acquired through trade.
It was almost too good to be true. I think most Royals fans were simply waiting for the wheels to fall off and normalcy to return. But there they were, only a few games out of a playoff spot in September.
This is remarkable not only because it was a pretty impressive turnaround, but because the team was finally doing the things that winning ball clubs do. They held on to talent that came up through the farm system instead of renting them until we couldn’t afford it (Wil Meyers aside). They went out and grabbed top flight pitching, stacking not only the rotation, but a historically effective bullpen as well.
Dayton Moore finally did those things that real GM’s do on good baseball teams. For the first time since the mid 1980’s Royals fans’ internal dialogue went from “that’ll never happen” to “I bet they’ll do it”.
THAT is the biggest achievement of the last season. The Royals have changed the culture of the team to a winning one.
But positive vibes and good will in sports are fleeting. Remember the Golden State Warriors under Don Nelson a few years back? If the Royals General Manager wants to establish a long standing turnaround in confidence by the fan base then he needs to make a gesture that no one thinks he can muster.
I believe he was close to doing so by attempting to bring back Carlos Beltran, but as has been detailed on this website plenty before, that move may have hurt the team in the long run.
The one move left for Mr. Moore to make is to bring back Ervin Santana. Though it seems that last year’s number two starter is in talks to sign with the Baltimore Orioles, nothing is set in stone as of yet.
Royals fans are convinced he wanted too much money (he did), and if there’s one thing the uber-wealthy ownership reviles its spending money on the team. But quite frankly, he’s worth the risk.
His upside is the performance he had last year, helping the Royals drive the team ERA to one of the lowest in baseball. His possible downside is reverting back to the home run machine he was in his last year with the Angels. Even then, Kauffman Stadium isn’t a home run friendly park, and does that make him less valuable than Jason Vargas?
Sure, it’s a gamble. Yes, the team must push payroll past its limit. But if it means forging a new generation of die-hard Royals fans, isn’t it worth the risk?
Bring back Ervin Santana. Defy expectations and prove to Kansas City that the Royals really are winners.