In the year 49 BCE, Gaius Julius Caesar’s term as Governor of Gaul ended and he was to return to Rome. But due to the political climate of the time, he knew that to do so unarmed (as was the law) would be to give himself up to his death at the hands of his political enemies. He thus decided, after much deliberation, to return to Rome with his army. As he crossed the River Rubicon, the border of Gaul and Italy, he is said to have declared ‘iacta alea est’ – ‘the die is cast’ as he set into motion the events that would lead to a long civil war and the end of the Roman Republic. (Though that is according to Suetonius; according to Plutarch he actually spoke in Greek, quoting a play, and said ‘ἀνερρίφθω κύβος’ which would be the imperative ‘let the die be cast’.)
It is not a case of history or great empires being made or destroyed for Kansas City Royals‘ general manager Dayton Moore, but he may have cause to utter a similar phrase this spring. Over the winter he committed the Royals to an attempt to win regularly and possibly contend this year instead of some distant and indeterminate point in the future. His crossing of the Rubicon was to sell away the top of the Royals’ farm system and acquire the top-class pitching the Royals so desperately needed.
It will be some time before we know if the die falls in Moore’s favour as it did Caesar’s, but the process will start this week. The two big names from the December trade with the Tampa Bay Rays will pitch this week; Wade Davis will pitch on Tuesday before James Shields, the man already given the job as the Royals’ ace, goes on Thursday. Each is expected to get six or seven starts in Arizona, before things really kick off in April.