Note: I don’t exactly know what the rules of this blog are so my apologies if I offend someone by posting. So… yeah.
Headline: Royals’ GM Moore has had enough
“That’s it,” he says. “We’re at a point now where you will never, ever hear me say again that we have young players who are improving. You will never, ever hear me say again that we are rebuilding. That stuff is over. I’m sick of all that.
“We’re not a young team anymore. We’re not an improving team anymore. There are no more excuses. It’s not like we made a lot of excuses before, but I’m sick of all that. It’s time now.”
Yay! You tell’em Dayton! No more of this losing/sucking/eternal rebuilding/patience stuff. Let’s get this thing going! You know, it is nice to finally have someone in KC who cares about winning. Who cares about setting a mindset of “Just win baby!” None of this dancing around crap. None of this “trying to save my job by pointing out every excuse I can give.” Freaking come out and say, “We are here to win and we are going to do everything we can to win or we don’t deserve to be here.” As a fan, I love it.
So, what’s the plan Dayton? How is this team going to start winning and competing for championships?
So now you ask: What does this mean in baseball terms? What kind of changes will the Royals make this off-season?
Right, that’s what I said, er, wrote.
That’s a trickier question.
The Royals have made a couple of coaching moves. They fired hitting coach Mike Barnett and third-base coach Luis Silverio. Barnett was easy to fire in many ways. The Royals were 12th in the league in runs scored and dead last in walks. Moore is quick to point out this wasn’t Barnett’s fault exactly — he’s a good coach and he preached plate discipline and worked tirelessly with players on their hitting — but he also didn’t fix things. This is where Moore’s hard-edged philosophy is now: You are part of the solution or you are part of the problem.
We’ve fired coaches before, what has that ever done? Coaches don’t hit, players do. What’s the plan there?
Clearly, though, they are not going to dramatically improve their on-base percentage by hiring a different coach.
Again, I know that.
Moore says that, in some ways, things will get better naturally. Third baseman Alex Gordon, after hitting bottom in late July, had a three-hit game against Oakland and two days later walked five times against the A’s. He had a better-than-.400 on-base percentage the rest of the year, and it looked like he had a much better ability to draw walks. Billy Butler seemed to find his swing about the same time and hit .309 the rest of the year. Moore thinks rookie Mike Aviles might not hit .325 every year like he did this season, but he will draw more walks as he gets to know pitchers
And Moore says the Royals are not going to give up on Mark Teahen despite a difficult season. Teahen hit well the last month or so.
“We still like Mark a lot,” Moore says. “I see how hard he prepares for every game. And he played better at the end of the year. We still have a lot of faith in Mark as a player.”
Wait, Dayton. Are you saying that our core is young and we have to be patient while they develop? You just said age didn’t matter anymore. Let me give you a refresher: “We’re at a point now where you will never, ever hear me say again that we have young players who are improving.” Remember? You just said that, like, three quotes ago.
But, again, Moore refuses to wait around for young players to get better. He says the Royals will have to add offense, even if it means moving and shoving some current players into different positions.
“We can’t be picky,” he says. “We need to go out and get the best offensive players we can get. We have to do it. And when we get those players, we need to play them in their natural positions. And we can do that because we have guys on our team that are versatile and can play a lot of positions.”
Oh, well, okay. I guess I can live with that. I assume that means by “go out and get the best offensive players we can get” would mean that our absolute terrible players – Ross Gload, Tony Pena Jr., Joey Gathright – will not get at bats and therefore make the team better. I can live with that. So, what defines “best offensive players we can get”?
OK, so Moore wants offense — and a lot of it. That leads to the next question: Where are the Royals going to find more offense? Moore concedes that the Royals don’t have as much payroll flexibility as they have the last couple of years when they signed pitcher Gil Meche ($11 million per year) and outfielder José Guillen ($12 million per).
“We’re open to anything,” Moore says. “And if we can do something impactful in free agency, we’ll certainly do that. But looking at it right now, I think we’d probably be looking more at trying to do those things through trades.”
Okay, so we should expect us signing Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell or anything then. But what you are really saying is that our payroll isn’t going up, which means we’re near maxed out on the amount of money David Glass is willing to spend on the MLB payroll. Well that’s not good, but that’s not your fault I guess. So, what kind of trades do you have in mind?
OK. Trades. The most positive step the Royals took in 2008 was that several pitchers established themselves. Zack Greinke won 13 games, finished fifth in the league in strikeouts and 10th in ERA. Gil Meche won 14, tied Greinke in strikeouts and was one of the league’s more dominant pitchers the last four months of the season. Closer Joakim Soria had an amazing year, start to finish, as his 42 saves and 1.60 ERA suggest.
So would the Royals be willing to trade any of those guys? Moore says he will keep his options open. But, honestly, a bold move involving one of those pitchers does not fit his personality. Moore believes a team wins with pitching, defense and an offense that maximizes its opportunities.
“You see what the Angels are doing, Minnesota, Tampa,” he says. “That’s our blueprint.” Well, the Royals finally seem to have built a strong pitching nucleus, and I suspect he won’t break that up in some kind of bold blockbuster move.
“Yeah,” he says. “I’m more of a piece-by-piece kind of guy.”
Okay, so let me get this straight. We won’t be signing any big time free agents because we don’t have any money to spend. We also will not be trading any of the guys who could actually bring us legitimate power hitters. And you just fired Deric Ladnier because of the lack of depth we have in the AA and AAA levels. So we have no one to bring up, no space to sign someone and we are not willing to deal our top guys. In other words, we are hoping Ross Gload can net us a “Brian Bannister-type hitter”. You know, hope we get lucky. How exactly are we going to win more games again?
“I just can’t predict what kind of opportunities we’re going to have,” he says. “All I can tell you is that there’s a lot more urgency going forward. We’re going to create as many options as we can. We’re going to do everything we can to make changes. There’s a lot of room for us to get better. And right now, that’s all that matters. We have to get better.”
So we are “urgently moving forward” and “creating as many possible options” and “doing everything we can” by not signing anyone of significant value, trading for someone of significant value and admitting we have nothing in the upper-minors to bring up. What you are saying is that you are hoping Mike Aviles remains the ultimate overachiever, Billy Butler gets his head straight for a full season, Alex Gordon remembers what made him good in college and in AA and that Mark Teahen becomes something we all know he can’t be. Well I’m optimistic about that plan. Ugh.
Look, I love you Dayton. I love how you are rebuilding our minor league system from the ground up, setting up a base in Latin America, pulling off nice little trades for guys like Brian Bannister and obtaining guys like Joakim Soria. But seriously, don’t come out here and tell me you are doing all you can to make this team better and that we are no longer rebuilding and then tell me that there is nothing you can really do but hope that some other team has an obscene desire to give three blue chip prospects for David DeJesus. With that said, I hope this post makes me look foolish next April.