Sitting face to face with a controversial General Manager; it’s what bloggers dream of. Why did you make that move, why would you sign that guy, are you crazy? Just some of the passing thoughts that fans and writers would love to pose to the GM, if only they could get a few minutes to do so. Those minutes were provided to me last night at the Royals FanFest. I was selected to be a part of the Digital Digest, where select bloggers and social media users were given a behind the scenes tour of FanFest and an opportunity to interview Dayton Moore, Ned Yost, Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur.
Never in a million years did I think that posting baseball articles on the internet would eventually put me in the same room with Dayton Moore and I’d be told I could ask him whatever I wanted. I spent days refining questions in an attempt to find a way around his finely tuned GM speak. I put together a list of questions which were ones I’d wished the traditional media had asked, but in a way that wasn’t too combative. I didn’t want to murder the guy; I just wanted some new information, a different look inside what the front office was doing. I wanted to do right by the internet and blog communities and try and get some clarification on the myriad of questions that we have.
The author (center) and cohorts prepare for the showdown
The day had finally come and we were ushered into a large conference room with a lone table and eight chairs. After some discussion with the Royals P.R. department they brought in Dayton Moore. He entered the room in a nice, but seemingly poorly tailored jacket. He shook everyone’s hand and used that very useful sales technique of repeating someones name and looking them in the face so you can associate the two and not forget later. People really like it when you call them by their name. He took his seat at the table, spit his gum out into Mike Swanson’s cup and asked seven nervous and excited internet writers to ask away.
Which question was I going to ask first? Should I hit with the hard one or should I begin with something to warm him up? Should I ask the first question here or not? Oh, ok, Brian McGannon is getting his in first. I’ll get mine next.
Brian McGannon: How would you describe the franchise when you took it over?
Dayton Moore: You know Brian, it’s uh, I knew there was a going to be a lot of work to do. I knew it was going to be a tremendous challenge. One of the things that attracts us about athletics is the competition and the challenge aspect of it and the Royals were my boyhood team…..
Ok, did he answer there, wait what was the question again? No worries. I’m going to ask him that OBP question as soon as he stops answering this question.
Dayton Moore: (1 minute later)…we all know that through the draft it’s difficult, the amazing thing of what our people have been able to do is, there are 26 teams in baseball that have more picks than us in the first one hundred…(1:15 later)..Its harder to live that. It’s easy to say let’s go do it, but when you get here it’s harder to live it for sure.
Ok, he finally stopped answering that question. I’m jumping….
Clint Scoles: You’re lowest Major League payroll was in ’08 and that was the same year you spent the most on the amateur draft, now with Gil’s deal will you be able to eclipse that.
Mark that question off my list.
Dayton Moore: You know, we never ever want to overpay for a player in the draft. We want to pay for a player that we think is a legit talent. If you’re gonna overpay for talent, you need to do it at the Major League level because you’re getting a return right now. You can argue that we overpaid for Gil Meche to get him, and we were the highest bidder in years we gave him an extra year, that’s how we got him. you don’t want to do that in the draft when over 50% of the first rounders do not make it to the Major Leagues…Do we have flexibility, absolutely…
Crap, were almost 5 minutes into this fifteen minute session and there are only 2 questions answered. Is he still defending the Gil Meche signing? I need to get in next or I’m going to miss out completely. I’m barely able to pay attention to this rambling, I’ll listen to it on tape later. Oh, he stopped.
Nick Scott (me): In the past you said that you do place a high value on players with a good OBP, but your Major League acquisitions haven’t really fit that mold, whats the reason?
Yeah, got that one in there for you internet. You can’t say you like OBP and then get Yuniesky Betancourt, Mike Jacobs and Jeff Franoeur, right?
Dayton Moore: You get the players that you can. The way I look at it is simply this, if player x is better than player y as an upgrade , then you move forward as long as it doesn’t restrict the players that you have coming through your system…(1 minute later)…you want on base at the top…(1 minute later) …the reason I’ll take any question, every question that I’ve been asked, trust me, I’ve asked to our scouts and development people…(30 seconds later)…we’re not golfers…(15 seconds later)…we want on base guys.Jeff Francoeur, not an on base guy, we know what we’re getting….
Should I be happy that my question is leading to this long of an answer? My god, we’re 8 minutes into the allotted 15 and the third question isn’t even finished being answered. Mark off that question about arbitration.
It went on like this, with a total of 5 questions being asked, one of which was technically after the bell. I knew the room felt the way I did. What the hell just happened there? Did we really only get 5 questions as a group? We’ve failed the internet.
Together we all came to the same conclusion: damn that guy is good at these things. He was politician good, no he was presidential good. In each answer he said just enough for it to be related to the question, but then used it as a launching pad to espouse his philosophy on management, talent acquisition, lineup construction, the draft and whatever else he could fit in there. On a third and fourth listen to the interview, he said some interesting things. However, he said what he wanted to say, not what we were hoping to get him to say.
It’s not a knock on Dayton Moore, having slick skills with the media is one of the reasons he has the job he has. I give him credit for even taking time to speak with us. I respected Dayton Moore as a person, manager and as a professional before I entered that room, and all of that was reinforced. What I’ve never been able to know for certain is if I feel I can respect his abilities to construct a Major League roster, I’m still not certain. I don’t think that fifteen minutes with him in that kind of arena would ever get that issue solved. To get to the bottom of that, we’ll have to watch his actions.
You can follow Nick Scott on Twitter @brokenbatsingle, on Facebook or email him at brokenbatsingle [at] gmail [dot] com