I've been placing my Royal energies on a Royals message board (royals.theinsiders.com), but I had to drop by my own blog to give Allard Baird major kudos for his dealings over the past two months.
I wasn't particularly enamored with the Beltran deal, but under the circumstances I thought he did the best he could. It was pretty obvious that teams were uninterested in giving up too much for a three month rental (unlike Freddy Garcia, who very quickly re-upped with the Sox after they gave a top prospect). AB probably shouldn't have been so single-mindedly focused on 3B and C, but in the end we received three prospects who all have a pretty good chance to become major leaguers, and one may even become a star.
His next big move may involve Sweeney, who will almost certainly get through waivers unclaimed with his contract. Again, its pretty unlikely that he'll get a lot of value for Sweeney, who is a fine player but overpaid as a one-dimensional DH on the downside of his career. At $11 million per year (and $12.5 million if he's traded) for the next three years, he's not easily tradable. It'll take a sucker to get much, but I would argue the Royals would be better off getting some decent prospects and clearing the salary space than keeping Sweeney. He'll be less and less moveable as each year passes, and by 2007 that $11 million will likely be a big drag on the payroll.
AB's "small" moves have been nothing short of brilliant, and these are the moves that will make the difference between a good and bad franchise over the next five years (or at least until the next CBA). AB has robbed two teams blind in the past two months - Grimsley-for-D. Bautista and J. Bautista(no relation)-for-Huber were lopsided deals that have tremendous upside for the Royals and zero risk. The J. Bautista trade was incredible considering the Royals picked him up for CASH just one month ago. The Mets must have been in a real pickle (not getting Bautista for the Pirates may have been a dealbreaker), so AB did his job by putting the screws to Duquette (though Duquette probably would have been better off not making that trade, IMHO). Bautista has been great at Omaha, and Huber is an excellent hitting prospect (though admittedly not much of a catcher).
AB and the Royals just need to get better at the big moves by making the right free agent signings in the off season. What appeared to be good moves have all blown up, which is part of the risk you take when you sign older veteran players. With the right combination of big moves (sign a top FA pitcher! Pavano, Clement, Perez!) and continued success with the small moves, the Royals will be able to compete in their division for years to come.