Dayton Moore has been a lightning rod for the Kansas City Royals. As the General Manager of the club, that’s just part of the description. In the beginning of his tenure with the Royals, it seemed that he was holding a long metal rod in the air and daring the storm to strike him. Ok, I’ve tortured that metaphor quite enough thank you.
This is the sixth year that Moore has been at the helm of the Royals and in that time, the team has taken no steps forward in the Major League Standings. And this is for a team which seemed to have nowhere to go but up. It seems we all forgot about the potential for sideways movement.
I joined in with the initial love affair with Dayton Moore. I just KNEW he was the guy to turn the franchise around. This was also the same time that I began to really investigate advanced statistical analysis. As my baseball mind began to expand and see new possibilities, I began to see stark differences in my opinions and those of Dayton Moore. He seemed to ignore any measure of statistical analysis that wasn’t on a 1986 Topps card. The team continued to lose and I began to detest Dayton Moore.
I never thought he should be fired, because even if I disagreed with many of the moves he was making, a General Manager should get a chance to build a team and prove himself. While the moves he was making at the Major League level seemed to be head-scratchers, he was quietly building a top notch farm system. Which regardless of your statistical leanings is the one area where most intelligent baseball people agree on.
So as Dayton Moore was drafting Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, he was also signing Jose Guillen and trading for Yuniesky Betancourt. It was as if he was fixing the foundation of a house, but letting the exterior go to crap. Sure maybe he went and bought a nice pink flamingo to make it seem like he cared, but the fact he let the shutters fall off and ignored the cracking paint was clear. In retrospect, if I bought a 100 year old house that was falling to the ground, that’s probably how I would approach it (again with the tortured metaphor, I know).
Still the danger signs were there. What does it mean that Moore actually WANTS guys like Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Guillen? does it mean that this whole farm system thing is just a small stroke of luck? How can one man be so shrewd at one part of the game and seem so inept at the other? Was ownership pushing for big free agents to help prove to the city that he wasn’t a cheap-ass so they would vote to give him tens of millions for stadium renovations?
But suddenly as some time passed (and the vote passed), the moves which caused me so much anger started to slide away. Then it seemed if Dayton Moore was making some of the more calculated moves in the sport. For a man at the helm of a very fiscally strapped club, he was doing exactly the right things.
For example, here are some of the major moves that Moore has made from the most recent going backwards:
11/7/2011 – Traded Melky Cabrera for Jonahtan Sanches and Ryan Verdugo
10/11/2011 – Claimed Aaron Laffey off waivers
9/27/2011 – Traded Kila Ka’aihue for Ethan Hollingsworth
8/18/2011 – Signed Jeff Francoeur to a two year contract extension
6/30/2011 – Traded Mike Aviles for Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz
6/20/2011 – Traded Wilson Betemit for Antonio Cruz and Julio Rodriguez
1/23/2011 – Royals sign Butler to 4 year contract
1/15/2011 – Royals sign Bruce Chen to 1 year contract
1/14/2011 – Royals sign Jeff Francis to one-year contract
12/19/2010 – Traded Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt and cash for Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress
12/10/2010 – Signed Melky Cabrera
12/8/2010 – Signed Jeff Francoeur to a one year contract
11/10/2010 – Traded David Dejesus for Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks
8/13/2010 – Traded Jose Guillen for cash and PTBNL (Kevin Pucetas)
8/1/2010 – Traded Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth and cash for Tim Collins, Jesse Chavez and Gregor Blanco
7/28/2010 – Traded Scott Podsednik for Lucas May and Elisaul Pimentel
5/13/2010 – Fired Trey Hillman and hired Ned Yost as manager
1/25/2010 – Signed Rick Ankiel to one-year contract
1/8/2010 – Signed Scot Podsednik to one-year contract
1/7/2010 – Signed Noel Arguelles to five-year contract
12/11/2009 – Signed Jason Kendall to a two-year contract
11/6/2009 – Traded Mark Teahen for Josh Fields and Chris Getz
7/11/2009 – Traded Danny Cortes and Derrick Saito for Yuniesky Betancourt\
3/17/2009 – Signed Sidney Ponson to one-year contract
2/28/2009 – Signed Juan Cruz to a two-year contract
1/26/2009 – Signed Zack Greinke to a four-year contract
1/9/2009 – Signed Willie Bloomquist to a two-year contract
12/13/2008 – Signed Kyle Farnsowrth to a two-year contract
10/30/2008 – Traded Leo Nunez for Mike Jacobs
That’s a pretty long list (sorry if I missed anything big). But look down that list and point out the things that are absolutely egregious. The move that people point to now is that last one, trading Nunez for Jacobs. Sure it was a bad trade but it happened almost three years ago and it isn’t exactly a complete screw job. Sure the Royals would’ve been better served to have Kila get more MLB time and to keep Nunez in the bullpen. It wasn’t a move that gets the Royals into the playoffs though.
Looking through the rest of it I can find a few things I disagree with, but again nothing that has a major negative impact on the team. I can’t get upset at one year contracts, even if they are with bad players (I’m looking at you Ankiel). But there are a number of deals that at this point look great: Jeff Francis, Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera and Bruce Chen x2.
Even the Yuniesky trade looks perfectly harmless in retrospect. Do we really miss Cortes and Saito? What else would the Royals had to part with in the Greinke deal? Would not having Yuni have meant that the Royals didn’t get Alcides Shortstop Jesus Escobar?
The point is that Dayton Moore has been on a hot streak and continues betting on that streak as he recently moved Melky for Jonathan Sanchez. It’s a move that I absolutely adore and the one that prompted me to ask Craig and Clark to think of the last bad move that Dayton has made.
So while in the past I’ve been pretty derisive of moves Dayton has made, I’m completely on board with almost every move he has made going back three years. I can’t believe that’s the case, but it is. I still think he has more to do and he can certainly improve on constructing a proper 25 man roster. But I think I can see the master plan developing. So while I’m still hopeful and excited about what the young farm-hands can do to help the Royals win, I’m also excited about what moves Dayton Moore can and will make to help this team get into the post-season again. That’s not a sentiment I had 3 years ago.