Of course, the complete randomness of 2003 threw everything off in everyone’s mind for at least another two years. Its hard to imagine now, but there was actually an eighteen month period (or so) when Allard Baird was being supported by not only casual fans, but the hardcores as well, including the national smart set. He’d always had good scouting bona fides and had had some success finding bit players in strange places. Now, he’d embraced OBP and a Beane-esque drafting strategy. He choose Calvin Pickering over Ken Harvey (for about five seconds) and on and on. The ironic thing is this: by the time he traded Beltran, just about everyone had given up on him again, even though in hindsight, its hard to imagine a better move he ever made. When the Royals collapsed again in 2004, we were back at square one: we can’t keep our good players, and we trade them for pennies on the dollar. It didn’t help either when it turned out that, again, Oakland was involved as one of the trading partners.
So, in honor of the Santana trade, in honor of all these bad memories, lets look back at the Beltran deal, when the Royals said goodbye to likely the best position player the team had had since George Brett. The way we were, 2004.
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