A friend texted me Thursday night asking if I was available to give him a ride home from work. When I picked him up, we did what all baseball fans do this time of year - we chatted about the World Series.
The Cardinals had just won Game 2, so we talked about Game 2 starter, Michael Wacha, and how quickly he made the leap from Texas A & M to the minor leagues to the World Series. St. Louis selected Wacha with the 19th pick of the first round of the 2012 draft.
"Can you imagine the difference two draft picks could have made for the Royals for the 2013 season?" I said. "What if the Royals had drafted Wacha instead of Kyle Zimmer with the fifth pick?"
I know, hindsight is 20/20 and you could do this with every draft. And 17 other teams passed on Wacha too, but it's hard not to play this game.
Kings of Kauffman has a great article comparing Zimmer and Wacha and why Zimmer was projected higher (and by the way, it's way too early to know which one will have a better MLB career), so I won't get into that here. Just go check it out if you are interested. But obviously, if the Royals had selected Wacha, he would have been part of the second-half excitement in Kansas City.
The other draft I was referring to was 2010, when the Royals selected Christian Colon with the fourth overall pick, passing on Matt Harvey and Chris Sale.
So, let's say they had selected Matt Harvey and he was at the top of the Royals rotation in 2013, followed by Ervin Santana, Michael Wacha, once he was ready for the big leagues, followed by Danny Duffy, once he was ready to return from Tommy John surgery, followed by a host of others who could have competed for the No. 5 spot.
The Royals would have struggled to start the season until this rotation was in place, but they struggled anyway (they were 22-30 on May 31), even with a solid rotation, because their offense was anemic early on.
But here's the real kicker. If, heading into the 2013 season, Dayton Moore would had known he would have a legitimate rotation in place by the All-Star break (one that included Harvey, Wacha, Santana and Duffy), or shortly thereafter, would he have believed it was necessary to deal Wil Myers during the off-season?
I doubt it.
If that's the case, then missing on Harvey and Wacha hurts even more than simply not having their services for the foreseeable future.
Of course, all perfect scenarios fall apart once they are applied in real life.
First, it wasn't just the Royals who missed on Wacha and Harvey. A number of other teams did, too. A player's "signability" always has to be considered. A team has to consider all of its projected needs in light of the talent that is available in each respective draft. And Harvey just underwent Tommy John surgery, so he'll miss the 2014 season, which would have left a hole in the rotation going into next season.
So all of this "what if?" is pointless. But we can't help ourselves, can we? We do it anyway.