Refreshing words, but a tired problem

Giancarlo Stanton’s press conference Monday was refreshing.

Nine times out of 10, an athlete traded from a cost-cutting franchise to one with deeper pockets takes the high road and says the PC things about their former team, trying to throw any more shade on the teammates left behind and the fans who revered what the athlete did.

Now Stanton, on his first official day as a Yankee after being dealt from the Marlins, didn’t crush his ex-team like he does fastballs, but he certainly left no doubt about how he felt. He clearly laid his exit from South Beach at the feet of Derek Jeter, the Yankees’ legendary shortstop who is in his infantile stages in baseball management. Jeter’s motives I’m sure are all about the bottom line. But one has to wonder what the Marlins would be like if they went out and got two frontline starters to go with that lineup. (I won’t even bring up the Jose Fernandez ramifications, only to say I don’t think the franchise has recovered from his death.)

Stanton also admitted to playing the Giants and Cardinals, whom he had no intention of joining despite the Marlins hammering out trade details with both clubs. Instead, he took meetings with both clubs to see what other organizations were like. Fair enough, but a little transparency would have been nice, especially with both fan bases checking Twitter every 30 seconds to see if a deal had gone through.

He really wanted to end up with the Dodgers, his hometown team, or the Yankees. He wants to win now after being promised the Marlins weren’t going to go for it and not tear everything down — again. That didn’t last long as Jeffrey Loria decided to sell the team to Jeter’s group, which didn’t have to keep that promise to Stanton and the fan base.

So now baseball is abuzz with visions of Stanton, the freshly minted NL MVP coming off a 59-homer season, teaming up with Aaron Judge, the newly crowned AL Rookie of the Year who blasted 52 homers. Rightfully so.

And while Stanton was somewhat reserved yet direct in his criticism of the Marlins — he could have gone on an epic rant — you have to wonder how long this next Miami rebuild will last. After getting a couple of prospects and a major-league second baseman for their best player, will the Marlins get market value on their other trade chips or will they settle for something close just to start from scratch?

What’s news with the Crew?

Everything was quiet on the public front with the Brewers. Right fielder Domingo Santana’s name continues to be bandied about, but as as Brewers General Manager David Stearns said: “If we’re going to even consider trading someone who is such an important part of our team, we are going to expect a sizable return.” Like other GMs, Stearns is exploring all avenues and taking all calls to see which players have what values. I do expect one significant move this week (Keon Broxton trade?).

Best rumor of the day

Mets starter Matt Harvey was a hot topic after an underperforming season and his salary on the rise in the arbitration process. While the initial toss-up of Harvey to the Rangers for second baseman Jurickson Profar was the sexiest piece of speculation, the deal that made the most sense was Harvey to the Orioles for right-handed reliever Brad Brach. That move would fill needs for both teams, their projected 2018 salaries are similar and both are slated to be free agents after next season.

Day 1 transactions (reported, unless otherwise noted)

⚾️ Switch-throwing reliever Pat Neshek agrees to two-year, $16.25 million contract with the Phillies.

⚾️ Right-handed reliever Brandon Morrow agrees to two-year, $21 million contract with the Cubs.

⚾️ And, of course, the Yankees officially acquired outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and cash from the Marlins for infielder Starlin Castro, minor-league right-hander Jorge Guzman and right-hander infielder Jose Devers.

Brewers need only look at Royals to see how to build a winner

When the Kansas City Royals celebrated winning the World Series on Sunday, the story line was that it was a culmination of a yearlong journey of redemption after coming up 90 feet short of tying Game 7 of the World Series in 2014 against the San Francisco Giants.

But that journey was a bit longer.

Experts took notice of the Royals a couple years ago as a team that was on the precipice of contending, having a young core of position players the franchise developed augmented with homegrown and acquired pitchers.

But it wasn’t an overnight success.

Left fielder Alex Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft. Catcher Salvador Perez, the spirit of this Royals team and the Series MVP, was an international free agent who signed in 2006. Third baseman Mike Moustakas was the second overall pick in the 2007. First baseman Eric Hosmer was the third overall pick in 2008. Shortstop Alcides Escobar, the AL Championship Series MVP, and center fielder Lorenzo Cain, last year’s ALCS MVP, were among the players acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for Zack Greinke before the 2011 season. Another player from the Greinke deal, pitcher Jake Odorizzi, was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays along with outfielder Wil Myers for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis before the 2013 season. Shields was the anchor of last season’s rotation, while Davis has become the best reliever in the majors.

So when new Brewers general manager David Stearns preached to a gathering of season ticket-holders last week that his goal is to acquire young, controllable talent in order to make the Crew a consistent contender, he could use the Royals or the Houston Astros — a team he was assistant GM for until being hired last month and a team that had back-to-back 100-loss seasons just a few seasons ago — as primary examples.

There has been some heavy lifting already done. The Brewers’ farm system isn’t the barren wasteland it was a couple seasons ago. The development of players including shortstop Orlando Arcia and pitcher Jorge Lopez, as well as the acquisition of a handful of players not that far away from being ready for the majors has the Brewers not having to take a major step back.

But there will be growing pains. 2016 figures to be focused on development rather than contending. After that? Arcia, Lopez, center fielder Brett Phillips and pitchers Adrian Houser and Josh Hader figure to be in a group of prospects ready to break through no later than Opening Day 2017. They will join outfielder Domingo Santana, who established himself as an everyday option after his call-up, and right-hander Zach Davies, who pitched well in his September audition and figures to be a rotation candidate going into spring training.

Stearns, still officially formalizing his front-office staff, will begin in earnest the process of molding the roster in the vision he promised owner Mark Attanasio when hired, with first baseman Adam Lind‘s $8 million option his first significant player decision.

Brewers fans will have to be patient. One more thing to keep in mind: The Royals were successful because, for the most part, they kept their core players together at the same level as they migrated through the minors. Everyone points to the talent at Double-A Biloxi — and rightfully so — but with an exception or two, most of that team should be at hitter-friendly Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2016 before becoming ready for prime time.