#Hot Corner

There's winning, and there's winning

Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE

When I write about the Royals, or at least when I write anything (shall we say) less than optimistic about the Royals, I hear from Bill Carle. The latest instance was just this morning, when I wrote about the Royals' ... shall we say, questionable decision to trade a prospect for a veteran yesterday, instead of the other way around. After all, even after their long winning streak, the Royals still trail their competition by a fair number of games; that, along with the measured talent of their roster, still leaves them with an exceptionally small chance of actually reaching the playoffs.

Bill's reaction:

By the way, I've known Bill casually for a long time, as he's been a leading light in the Society for American Baseball Research since before I was even a member -- Carle won a Chadwick Award this year -- and I've been a member for a long time now. Bill's also been a Royals fan for a long time, for even longer than I've been. And I've been a Royals fan for a long time now.

Anyway, I think Bill and I share one desire: for the Kansas City Royals to win. But where we part ways is the importance we place on winning today. And it really doesn't have anything to do with the Royals. For me, it's simply about how a baseball team should be run. I believe that if a team has no legitimate shot at winning a championship this season, management should concentrate on winning a championship next season. Or in the case of a team like the Astros, on winning a championship the season after next season.

I believe it was Leo Durocher who said something like, "Save a pitcher for tomorrow? Hell, it might rain tomorrow."

Well, it might. But these days, even when it rains you'll probably get the game in somehow, thanks to modern grounds-keeping technology. Yeah, I know. Durocher was speaking metaphorically. I think. But it was exactly that sort of thinking that lost Durocher the National League pennant in 1942, when he failed to let Pete Reiser recover from a serious concussion.

I would love to see the Royals win tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. But what I would love even more? To see them have a chance to win a championship next year, and the next year, and the year after that. My best guess? With Ervin Santana and Greg Holland, the Royals have a 1-percent chance of making the playoffs this year, but a lower chance of making the playoffs next year. Without Santana and Holland, the Royals have an even smaller chance this year, but a significantly greater chance next year, and in the following years.

That seems like a great trade to me. Obviously, it doesn't seem like a good trade to Bill at all. There's no right or wrong answer here. It's just a matter of taste, really. I'm happy to wait, if there is some reasonable hope. Alas, there is no reasonable hope this year. And now, thanks to the continuing presence of Ervin Santana and Greg Holland, there's none for as far as our eyes can see.

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