Dayton Moore Had A Mild Comeback In 2010, Now The Real Work Starts

Last December, I wrote about how Dayton Moore could have a comeback year in 2010. Now that the 2010 season is officially over, it's a good time to reflect on the year that was or wasn't. Was Dayton able to follow any of my recommendations?

  • Have a Relatively Non-Horrible Winter on the Free Agent Market: This one is a tough call. Moore had a typical Moore winter. Jason Kendall, the major signing early, was later augmented by Brian Anderson, Scott Podsednik, and Rick Ankiel. These were all generally bad moves, though they did later generate some minor trades. Anderson became a pitcher, Pods became a Dodger, and Ankiel became a Brave. Not sure if that was the original plan, but that's how it ended up. Anderson essentially quit baseball as a Major Leaguer, and Ankiel was terrible.
  • Be Honest About Where the Team Is: Eventually, this happened. The Royals eventually tore down a fair amount of the roster, though because of bad luck (supposedly) they weren't able to move their most realistically trade-able asset in David DeJesus. The team also, arguably, waited too long to trade guys like Brian Bannister and Gil Meche, and instead hung on to them long enough to see them completely destroy their trade value. The initial hot-streak under Ned Yost seemed to have Dayton a wobbling a little bit, but eventually he did the right thing and blew up the 2010 Royals.
  • Actually Commit to the Rebuild: This is highly similar to the previous entry (great writing on my part) and again, Dayton gets partial credit. For non-elite talent, the trade market has dropped off in recent years, and fans and media have become much more knowledgeable about minor league prospects and young players. I'm in the camp that the 2012 run is un-realistic and that the team needs to shop Greinke and Soria and possibly even Butler. The Royals were also slow to move DeJesus. Moreover, the Royals didn't commit to rebuilding until June of 2010. That hesitation did come with real cost, though somewhat mitigated by the returns generated for Pods and Ankiel/Farns.
  • Lean on Your Skills: This is where I called upon Dayton to impress us, as he really hasn't since 2008, with a decent scouting find or two.The performances of Betemit and Chen have been much ballyhooed as evidence of good work done by Dayton. Regarding Betemit, there's some truth to that notion. With Chen, it's more complicated. For one, he wasn't actually that good. For two, he was signed to be an emergency 5th starter and that's what he became. Maybe I'm just too hard on Dayton, but I'm not blown away by the picking up of either guy. The same scouting eye continues to love Yuni.
  • Strengthen Your Standing in the Community: This basically meant stop saying dumb things and being generally insulting. Dayton did this. He had a brilliant year PR wise. He got to fire Hillman to take away some heat, then enjoyed the Yost honeymoon. The strength of the minor league system became a full-fledged meme amongst fans, crossing over, I think, into the mainstream level. From there, Dayton launched the 2012 talking point (or did he just jump on?) and everything just became a brilliant breaking of the bank. The trades of many veterans later on annoyed dumber fans, but that was it.
  • Have Another Good Draft: Impossible to evaluate now. The Royals went college-heavy in 2010, and that played in well with the mid-summer groundswell of OMG THE FARM SYSTEM IS AWESOME. Mellinger, I think, wrote the "Royals think they're close with 2010 draft strategy" story, and it all fed in together.
  • In part, by the above criteria, I think it was a comeback year, to a point. There's still the totally mis-managed catching situation, another poorly constructed defense, the near-complete erosion of the pitching staff, and the questionable handling of Alex Gordon and Gil Meche. Most of Dayton's "comeback" was simply not screwing up as much as he did in 2009. I do think we saw some needed honesty about the state of the team, and, finally, a willingness to attempt to sell the fans on an actual rebuild. I think trying to rebuild, while holding onto Soria and Greinke is a gamble, but I can see the thinking. Talking up 2012 seems both close enough and far enough away in 2010, but it may end up costing Moore his job someday. It's out there now.

    In terms of the overall health of the franchise, the biggest story of 2010 was the development of a number of players in the minors, and that really didn't have much to do with direct actions taken by Dayton in the last year. We're now three years removed from the Guillen contract, which was a serious blow to the franchise. Moore hasn't made a big move since, everything else has been straight out of the Baird era, just with slightly more of a bizzaro touch and a higher price tag.

    As we've seen, the most frustrating thing about Moore's last few years is that there just doesn't seem to be a coherent... process. Just look at how the infield has played out. Think about what happened in the vortex of Plan Bs that produced the Alberto Callaspo/Chris Getz/Mike Aviles/Alex Gordon square dance. Heading into 2011, we'll now if the Front Office has it's act together soon enough. It's time to start building that 2012 contender.

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