Sideline Report: How the Royals can move past James Shields

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On Monday, Feb. 9, the San Diego Padres made yet another acquisition to benefit their surprisingly talented squad for this upcoming MLB season. The Padres have been busy this offseason with trades and acquisitions of outfielders Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and former Kansas City Royals prospect Wil Myers, as well as catcher Derek Norris. This acquisition of pitcher James Shields for 4 yrs/$75 million brings this shockingly awful team to a potential contenders in the National League next year. Most Royals fans anticipated Shields leaving, but how does this affect the Royals?

This is a question that Royals general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost will be pondering for the beginning of the season. But even with the departure of the highly touted pitcher, the Royals have made moves in the off season to keep a contending team. Additions such as right handers Kris Medlen and Edinson Volquez, as well as holding on to the trio on the back end of the bullpen of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Pitching should not be an issue, even though the American League champions don’t have the flashiest starting rotation.

Players like Medlen, Volquez, Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Jeremy Guthrie, and Jason Vargas will help to eat up innings and will thrive in the absence of Shields. So any concerns as far as who will replace Shields should be cast aside.

Another slightly concerning aspect of this signing of Shields is that the two main players (Myers and Shields) involved in the 2012 trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Royals are now in San Diego. It seems that this was a just a disaster of a deal and that both teams lost this trade.

Shields brought experience to this team when he came over from the Rays, particularly experience in the playoffs. Not many players going into last year had played baseball in October, and that leadership and mentorship was invaluable. Shields also ate up innings as the pitcher at the top of the rotation for the past two seasons. Those were two attributes that will be hard to replace for this still incredibly young team. Although, these Royals just went to the World Series and now have that postseason experience that has been desired in Kansas City for the last 29 years. I believe this team is ready to take the next step and can move on past Shields.

One fault of “Big Games James” was that he didn’t always deliver in the biggest games. Multiple times in the playoffs he was taken out early due to giving up runs in the first few innings. He also was notorious for giving up runs to the opposition early in each start and shutting down batters later on in the game. This strategy (or mistake) didn’t always pay off and cost the Royals some crucial games. The man didn’t live up to his moniker when he needed to. Shields was still a workhorse and is a quality pitcher, but he was overpaid and under-delivered.

The Royals will have a successful season this year with the best bullpen and defense in baseball. Offense can be a struggle at times, but speed, defense and pitching got the boys in blue to the 2014 World Series in the first place. James Shields wasn’t the reason we got there last year, and we can win the whole thing without him.

 

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