Royals blew it with Melky Cabrera

All-Star MVP Melky Cabrera, right, of the San Francisco Giants, celebrates his two-run, fourth-inning home run with the Cardinals’ Matt Holliday. Cabrera helped the NL to an 8-0 rout of the AL in the All-Star game on Tuesday, July 10, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo.

All-Star MVP Melky Cabrera, right, of the San Francisco Giants, celebrates his two-run, fourth-inning home run with the Cardinals’ Matt Holliday. Cabrera helped the NL to an 8-0 rout of the AL in the All-Star game on Tuesday, July 10, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo.

July 11, 2012


— The sound of the sweet spot of a baseball bat crushing a baseball was fouled by a backfire that could be heard from here to San Francisco and back Tuesday night in the top of the fourth inning of the All-Star game won by the National League, 8-0.

Poor Royals.

Anybody who’s anybody in major-league baseball convened at the beautiful baseball stadium in the middle of nowhere, instead of the middle of downtown, where it should be located, and everyone in baseball had to be reminded of what a lousy trade the Royals made in the offseason.

So far, Melky Cabrera and a few others directly or indirectly involved in the November trade have made it backfire repeatedly, never quite so loudly as when Cabrera played a central role in the beating administered by the visitors, never so loudly as when he received All-Star game MVP honors.

Cabrera, 27, had the first hit of the game with a first-inning single in his first (of many) All-Star at-bat and scored the game’s first (of many) run. In the fourth, he received a decent showing of support from jilted Royals fans when he tore into Texas Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison’s offering and parked it in the home bullpen behind the left-field fence, a two-run homer.

No less an authority than National League manager Tony La Russa said of him, “Melky, last year, this year, he’s as good a hitter as there is in either league.”

And the Royals gave him away for a return that so far has made them worse than they would have been had he been given away for nothing.

Cabrera, with his fourth team in four seasons, said words that made it seem as if the trade from the Royals didn’t hurt, but his pained expression when asked about it betrayed those words.

“You have to be mentally ready and physically ready for those decisions you have no control over,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “It was a business decision that the Royals traded me. San Francisco is my new team, and I’m very happy to be there.”

The feeling is mutual. Six fans dress as milk men for every home game. He’s a cult hero already. He could have been one in Kansas City. Cabrera had 201 hits for the Royals last season, ripped 44 doubles, hit 18 home runs, scored 102 runs and drove in 87.

San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean has a habit of making the right moves at the right time. Based on his own eye or that of a key trusted adviser in the organization, he believed that the career season Cabrera had in 2011 for the Royals, his third organization, was the start of something special, not an aberration that would stand up as his career year.

The Giants brain trust read the situation perfectly, and Cabrera reached the All-Star break hitting .353, second in the National League.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore, forever seeking ways to improve the depth of the organization’s pitching, received veteran left-hander Jonathan Sanchez and Triple-A right-hander Ryan Verdugo in the deal. Sanchez didn’t make the American League All-Star team. He fell about eight or nine wins short. With pitching stats that could only be described as dirty, Sanchez has gone 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA in 11 starts, has walked more batters than he has struck out.

Moore viewed Cabrera expendable because Moore thought Lorenzo Cain was ready to take over in center field. After starting the season 2-for-15 at the plate, Cain was injured in the fifth game of the season while making a catch in center field. He has been on the disabled list since then, recovering from a strained left groin and a torn hip flexor. Back from a minor-league injury rehabilitation assignment, Cain will play center for the Royals when the season resumes.

Maybe it’s not entirely fair to call out Moore for misjudging Cabrera’s potential. Maybe Moore is under business-as-usual instructions from ownership. You know the drill: Trade any good player who has one year remaining on his contract while you can get something for him because no way the Royals will pay major-league money to major-league stars.

Cabrera’s a free agent after this season and will command big bucks. With better vision and a more courageous spending approach, the Royals could have locked him up long-term last winter. It’s better to have too many outfielders than one too few. With Cabrera, center field would be the most productive spot in the lineup, not the least.

Hope — fueled by the signing of Alex Gordon to a four-year, $37.5 million extension in March, a year after Billy Butler was locked up for four years for $30 million — burns deeply among those who care about the Royals that things will be different when the time arrives to pay Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, Wil Myers, etc.

But is that hope justified? Will the Royals really lock up all of them? Not some of them, all of them.

Even with the Gordon and Butler signings making it seem as if the culture has changed, the reality is the Royals rank 27th among 30 clubs with a $61,391,300 payroll.

Another painful reality: Without the Cabrera trade, the Royals would have a much better offense and a better rotation because any number of starters at Omaha could have produced better numbers than Sanchez. The Royals could be flirting with a .500 season, and the future would look so bright. Of course, it’s within the Royals’ grasp to undo the mistake by signing Cabrera to a long-term contract if he reaches free agency and turning Jeff Francoeur into a fourth outfielder, even though he’s paid like a starter.


Shelley Bock 5 years, 11 months ago

It appears that the Royals are content to simply put a team on the field, lock up last place by May and see if the goal of 100 loses can be met. All this while charging more to park your car than the cost of the cheapest ticket at Livestrong Sporting Park where soccer is played.

What could spark interest would be the prospect of the yearly promotion / relegation in soccer world wide. The bottom teams in the highest division are "relegated", sent down, placed in the next highest division, every year. There is a mad scramble to stay out of that "zone". The highest teams in the lower division are moved up to replace them.

That might cause Royals management to become "just better than worst", which would be an improvement on what's going on at the moment. Otherwise..."Go Omaha" or Wichita or wherever.

cato_the_elder 5 years, 11 months ago

Professional soccer will never provide legitimate competition for professional baseball or football, because it's not a sport that originated in America. Soccer could no more beat out baseball or football than opera could beat out country music or jazz. If you want to watch a bunch of guys kick a ball around all day and seldom, if ever, score a goal, you can easily order cable TV or, better still, take a trip to Europe, where there are many interesting things to see after you become terminally bored with soccer.

Shelley Bock 5 years, 11 months ago

Cato the elder, you are so off target!

The comment I made was to suggest a way in which a fire could be lit underneath Royals management,which appears to be content with putting a poor team on the field and wait for next year that never comes. Worldwide soccer has found a solution. This is also in use for basketball and other sports. It was not, if you re-read the comment, any sort of commentary on soccer. Yes, I did make a comment about the cost of baseball parking being more than the cost of a soccer ticket, but that was there only for humorous comparison purposes. (Might I add that Sporting KC has been sold out for 7 straight games.)

Please, please don't go to any soccer games. Who needs you there? Your mind obviously isn't open to new ways of play or thinking. Why would you want to come to Europe and see something interesting? In the past you've stated your disdain of soccer. No need to repeat it now.

Go out and spend your dollars on the Royals and be bored again and again with their lack of winning efforts.

Brandon Devlin 5 years, 11 months ago

Yup. . .while we ran circles around them and proved that "athleticism" beats "bulk" time and time again.

Shelley Bock 5 years, 11 months ago

No insecurity here, Babboy. The football players enjoyed playing soccer with me (at a 6A high school) in their football off-season. More recently, I still see some of them at games watching their kids or grandkids as they play soccer.

Brandon Devlin 5 years, 11 months ago

Hep, you just took the words out of my mouth. Cato found a way to vent about the (unarguably) world's most popular sport while completely missing the point.

I've said the same thing for years. . .maybe MLB teams might have an incentive to play better and make better use of their talent if there was a relegation battle involved, while giving great ball clubs around the country a chance to move up and prove themselves in the big league.

parrothead8 5 years, 11 months ago

Football didn't originate in America either, genius. It evolved as a combination hybrid of rugby and soccer.

jaywalker 5 years, 11 months ago

Um.......yeah, it did. Sure it's a combo of those sports, but American Football certainly "originated" here.

cato_the_elder 5 years, 11 months ago

American football has never had anything to do with soccer. Rugby, yes. Soccer? That's a laugh.

newmedia 5 years, 11 months ago

Yes, but they didn't with Greinke. It's not the first bad trade anyone ever made and it won't be the last.

mdlund0 5 years, 11 months ago

Greinke wanted out because he saw the Royals as a team without a future. He wanted to play for a team with an organization that wants to win. The Royals organization is designed to siphon money off the fans through season tickets and merchandise. The players don't matter, the manager doesn't matter, the GM doesn't matter - replacing those guys is just shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. Greinke saw through the B.S. and wanted out... who can blame him? Fans should revolt until a new owner takes over, because David Glass is taking advantage of them and will continue to do so as long as his pockets get filled with money. I'm a White Sox fan, so I have no love for the Royals, but as a resident here, it's terrible to watch people who love a team get taken by the owner.

mdlund0 5 years, 11 months ago

Expanding on my previous thought: As a fan of the White Sox and baseball in general, what worse than seeing the Royals win is seeing them, as an organization, not even try.

Steve Stucky 5 years, 11 months ago

That's good, but I'm going to change your quote a bit and call it my own. "The only thing worse than seeing the Royals lose is to see them, as an organization, not even try." Thanks! And, as a kid I was a big White Sox fan. Now, I'm a very tired royals (note lower case) fan.

Jayhawk1958 5 years, 11 months ago

Time for Moore to go. He's not getting the job done.

parrothead8 5 years, 11 months ago

What makes you say that? When he inherited the team, the organization was almost devoid of any top-end talent. Now we have players that every GM in the league is excited about.

Jayhawk_4_Life 5 years, 11 months ago

are out of your mind? Dayton Moore is why Royals fans are so excited about the next few years when we have a chance to actually compete. The ownership is pathetic, not our GM.

Steve Stucky 5 years, 11 months ago

How can you possibly say it's time for Moore to go. Jeez, give him a chance. Afterall they have that great "it's our time" slogan.

labmonkey 5 years, 11 months ago

I say give Moore two more years... give him his eight years because he had nothing, nothing when he got here. The one constant in the Royals suckitude since 2000 has been the owner, David Glass. They will never be good until he either sells the team or dies.

What was very telling was how George Brett proved he was nothing more than Glass's yes-man when he was interviewed during the Homerun Derby on Monday night. When introduced as "Royals Vice-President of Player Operations," he let out a surprised and sarcastic laugh. When Carlos Beltran came up to bat later on, he started talking about how this owner cannot afford to keep these players more than 6 years and he would love to keep a Beltran for 15 years. All this was talked about in present tense which means as soon as these players develop, they will not be resigned.

Soccer sucks and will never become an American pass-time, but I do agree with Hepburn and have actually said this before about the two bottom teams go to the minors every year and the top minor teams come up. This might light a fire under Glass's a$$ as he could no longer take the revenue sharing money from the big teams as profit anymore.

mdlund0 5 years, 11 months ago

"As soon as these players develop, they will not be resigned." Completely correct: The Royals are just a minor league team masquerading as a major league player.

Royals 5 years, 11 months ago

Most players starring were on other teams before there current ones with Jeter being an exception.

Beltran is on his 5th different team of his career and Melky on his 4th team in 4 years.

Royals 5 years, 11 months ago

And Bautista was a "player to be named later" one time.

JoseSmith 5 years, 11 months ago

Wow, No big headlines from Keegan when Melky was traded? Most fans did not react much either at the time the trade was made, so hard to put to much into most of your comments. Also Tom needs to follow the Royals more often. Perez was signed to a long term contract last winter.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 11 months ago

And Jermaine Dye. And Raul Ibanez. And Juan Gonzalez. And Jose Guillen.

The list goes on and on.

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 11 months ago

Juan Gonzalez and Jose Guillen??? You're kidding, right?? KC had those guys at the end of their careers and getting rid of them was a plus.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 11 months ago

My point was not that these were good players, but that the Royals blew it by signing them in the first place. Guillen was a problem child, and Gonzalez never took a swing for the Royals. The opposite of Cabrera, Dye, and Ibanez.

Royals 5 years, 11 months ago

I've hated to see the Beltrans, Damons, Dye, etc. etc. leave as much as anyone but name me one front line starting pitcher the Royals have developed other than Grienke?

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 11 months ago

He came up in 1984, back when the Royals ownership gave a damn.

JoseSmith 5 years, 11 months ago


Your logic on why Melky was traded does not make sense. If you are worried about losing a guy to free agency, why do you trade him for a guy who is also becoming a free agent?

The Royals needed pitching. It is a bad trade no doubt. This had nothing to do with money. Melky is probably costing the Giants the same as Sanchez is.

Did not notice any of you folks a couple years ago screaming for the Royals to try to tie up Melky to a long term deal when we signed him as a free agent. The same goes for last winter.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for the clear description of how the Royals blew it with Cabrera. Their resoning was sound, but the decision was wrong.

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 11 months ago

Uh, Melky is 27, that's pretty much considered the middle of prime years for baseball. He could have at least 5 more very productive years.

emceelean 5 years, 11 months ago

Nonsense. Melky had several good season in New York. Save his only season with the Braves, he's been an above-average player in the majors.

That said, I don't think it was the wrong move trading for Sanchez, at least I didn't think so at the time.

Jayhawk1958 5 years, 11 months ago

Sell and relocate the team and bring the A's back to K.C.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 11 months ago

The new owners of the Washington Nationals baseball team in Washington, D.C., paid $450 million for the team. But, in fact, they got the team for free, because the subsidy they’re getting for the new stadium is worth $611 million. We actually paid these people to buy the team.

Now, in this country right now, we are spending $2 billion a year subsidizing the big four sports: baseball, basketball, football and hockey. It accounts for all of the profits of that industry and more. Now, there may be individual teams that make money, but the industry as a whole is not profitable. And that’s astonishing because the big four leagues are exempt from the laws of competition. By the way, irony is not dead, because here are people who are in the business of competition on the field who are exempted by law from the rules of economic competition.

If you go to England and you want to start a soccer team, they have to let you join the soccer league. There are thirteen commercial soccer teams in the London area. New York City, the biggest city in the country, there are two baseball teams, because there’s no free entry into the market. In Los Angeles, there’s no football team.

And the owners use this power to prevent others from owning teams, to prevent municipal governments from owning teams, to prevent nonprofits from owning teams, to extract money from the taxpayers to build them new stadiums.

At the same time that we’re doing this, we are starving our public parks for money.

parrothead8 5 years, 11 months ago

What a lazy article. It's SO easy to look back on a trade that didn't work out and declare it a bust. If only Dayton Moore had Keegan's brilliant hindsight ahead of time.

What the Royals did was smart, and here's why: They signed Melky in 2011 to a pretty cheap contract (1-year, $1.25M) to minimize risk. Keep in mind...this was a guy who was usually about a .270 hitter at best, had averaged 8 HRs a season for the previous five years, and was coming off the worst season of his career. No other team in baseball even offered him a Major League contract. There was NOTHING in his past to suggest he was as good as he turned out to be in 2011.

Luckily for the Royals, he had a great 2011. Their investment of $1.25M was a very good one, and was now worth much more than that. Going into 2012, they offered him a 2-year deal for a total of $13.5M. He declined. The Royals had to make a decision. Was this guy going to bat .300 with 18 HRs and 20 SBs every year? Again...NOTHING in his past suggested he was this good of a player.

The Royals looked at their organization, saw a lot of talent at OF, and not much in the way of pitching. Pitchers who can make most of their starts and pile up strikeouts are worth much more than outfielders who average 8 HRs per year. They were offered a pitcher who had averaged about 27 starts a year over the past four years with high strikeout numbers.

If you were poor...what would you do if you bought something for a buck and someone offered you $5 for it? Would you wait to see if the $1 item held its high value or would you take the $5 and be happy with your profit? The rule is: Buy low, sell high. They took the deal. Almost EVERYTHING in both player's histories suggested that the deal would work out fairly well for the Royals at the time of the trade. Unfortunately, Sanchez got hurt and the guy who was supposed to replace Melky in CF - Lorenzo Cain - also got hurt, which magnified Melky's absence in the eyes of most fans.

Jayhawk1958 5 years, 11 months ago

Sell off the assets or sell the team and make them relocate it, and we become the AAA aflliate of the Oakland A's-Kansas City A's. That were here once upon a time. AAA baseball is very good and you get to see up and coming players who are waiting to be called up. I bet you could draw just as good attendance, especially if they win more then the Royals do now.

squawkhawk 5 years, 11 months ago

Cabrera is just one in a long line of former Royals that went on to be successful major leaguers. It is simply the Royals' way...find em, development, then send them packing. Glass continues this tradition.

JoseSmith 5 years, 11 months ago

squakhawk, we know you are not that dumb. Glass had nothing to do with the trade.

OneillNataliaj 5 years, 11 months ago

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Julie Craig 5 years, 11 months ago

Thank you Captain Obvious. We need to keep putting pressure on the decision makers in the Royals organization to get serious about putting a winning team on the field. I for one don't buy the argument that KC is only about football.

JoseSmith 5 years, 11 months ago


Doubt you research where your clothing is made. You are as guilty as anyone.

lincolnsmith 5 years, 11 months ago

Why doesn't this article mention that the Royals offered Melky $13.5 million, but he declined?

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