August 2nd, 2010. In many ways it was just another day in baseball. The Royals got beat by 6 runs in Oakland. Brian Bannister wasn’t effective. Chris Getz let a runner score while he was arguing with the umpire. A perfectly executed hit and run was busted up when the shortstop caught the line drive while moving to cover 2nd base. Kila Ka’aihue got one pinch hit plate appearance. However in the bottom of the 8th inning, Greg Holland made his major league debut and as you may or may not know, Holland is the first draft pick by Dayton Moore to play for the Royals.
On the mound he seemed stiff and uncomfortable, which isn’t all that surprising for a 10th round draft pick out of Ball State Western Carolina University facing big league hitters for the first time. I’d imagine standing on a major league mound is a pretty intense experience the first time you do it. Things started off well when he got Rajai Davis to ground out. However, he followed that up by walking Gabe Gross and giving up back to back singles by Cliff Pennington and Coco Crisp which allowed Gross to score. Holland then loaded the bases by walking Daric Barton.
I would assume that the young mans mind was racing at this point. His entire baseball career might have been flashing before his eyes. I am sure he knows all about players who merely got their cup of coffee, got sent back down and never made it back to the majors. It was impossible not to see it on his face. Royals manager Ned Yost then emerged from the dugout instead of the pitching coach. Normally that means a new pitcher is coming into the game. Again, I’d imagine Holland thought his debut was over just like that. However, Yost went out there to offer some words of encouragement, not pull him from the game.
Whatever Yost said; it worked. Holland quickly got the next batter, Kurt Suzuki to ground into an inning ending double play. Just like that, Greg Holland was out of a bases loaded jam. The team was still down six to nothing, but things didn’t get much worse.
It’s probably a little bit cheesy to use a single relief pitching appearance as a metaphor for the Dayton Moore regime, but I am going to do it anyway. Holland entered a game which the Royals had little hope of winning,which isn’t much different from what Dayton Moore inherited when he showed up as General Manager. He had some early success and made some odd moves which seemed a little like a guy finding his sea legs. Then things turned sour and the results were not as advertised. Finally, he got a reminder that he had a plan, just trust what you have and do what got you to where you are. Finally, something goes right and the current predicament is over.
The story isn’t written on Greg Hollands major league career just yet, and neither is the one on Dayton Moore. Things haven’t gone as well as anyone had hoped, its been rocky and ugly. There has been a handful of bright spots, but they’ve been overshadowed by numerous dark ones. Regardless of how many good individual pitches a pitcher makes, if you load the bases, you load the bases. However, it can be completely erased by a single double play ball.
Whatever unfolds in the future for Dayton Moore and the Royals, the possible excuses for not building a winning ballclub are dwindling. Just like a pitcher, it doesn’t matter what kind of stuff you have if you can’t get guys out. Both Holland and Dayton Moore will be judged by their results on the field. Personally, I hope both succeed wildly but we will have to keep watching and see.