That sound you heard was Royals owner David Glass striking the match...
"We’ll do what we need to do," Glass said. "I’m going to sit down with Dayton and get his views on exactly what he thinks we need to do. I’m really dependent on his judgment. He knows our needs... I have no idea yet of who will be on the market or what it will cost at this point in time. We’re going to have to figure all of that out, but we’re going to do what we need to do to be competitive."
In other words... Glass bankrolls and Moore advises, so if this thing blows up again in 2013 don't point the finger at ownership. Because it's the GM who's making the big decisions. One guy controls the means. Another guy controls the method.
As we are set to close Year Six in the Never Ending Rebuilding Process, it's about time Dayton felt the heat from ownership. I think he's done a solid job overseeing a complete restructuring of the scouting department while convincing Glass to spend on scouting and player development. The drafts have been widely praised. Yet while money has been spent on the system, the results haven't been comisserate with the expenditures. Player development has been a problem. Scouting - particularly in the majors - is a disaster. So while Moore has done some good things to turn this organization around, there are still way too many faults to be found with The Process.
Besides, the rebuilding phase of this is finished. It's time for results.
Having said that, it is entirely up to Glass to open the wallet. He made his comments to Bob Dutton in what seems to be his annual "State Of The Royals" remarks to the print media. It's a signal of fall... Not unlike the leaves turning. He will talk up the positives about his team and stress that they are targeting the negatives. Well... We all know the negatives.
"Our bullpen," he said, "I’ll stack it up against anybody in our division. Our position players, too. We just need some additional help in starting pitching. We get that, and we're competitive."
See that? "Additional help." That's not coming from the minor leagues. That's not Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino returning from injury. That's not happening. The "help" is a free agent signing and a trade. It's about going outside the organization, not Dayton's usual platitude of looking internally for solutions. You can't talk about auditioning Tim Collins and Aaron Crow. They have to look beyond. Because everyone who follows this team knows that the solutions are not currently on the roster.
"We get that, and we're competitive." This to me is the key part of that quote. Because it's a singular need. Get some starting pitching and "we're competitive." For the first time since 2003, it reads like Glass thinks his team has most of the pieces in place to make a run at the post season. In a way, that makes me optimistic. The owner thinks we're close. Good. (Yet, I'm a Royals fan. Something will happen.)
Dayton, the gauntlet has been thrown down by your owner. Feel the pressure. Finally.
I know some of you will question whether or not Glass will actually spend the money. I'll remind you that since hiring Moore, he's largely stayed out of the way. And acted on his General Manager's recommendations. Gil Meche... Jose Guillen... You can debate the merits of those signings, but the fact is Dayton Moore convinced his boss that those were the guys he needed to help his team. And those signings came at quite a cost, pushing payroll to record heights. He also allowed Allard Baird to add payroll in 2003 when the Royals were somehow in contention. While it may irritate me that it's taken so long to get to this point, I do believe Glass will back his words with cash. He kind of has to, after he's spoken publicly about it.
Dayton Moore is a steward of David Glass' money. When that money is spent, the owner wants to see a proper return. He's a businessman. If he's going to invest in scouting, player development and the minor leagues, he'd better get some All-Stars in the deal. That hasn't happened. Not even close. The two best players this year on Moore's team were drafted and developed by his predecessor. The same could be said for 2011. And 2010. And 2009... You get the picture. I get the feeling from Glass' comments that he's ready for the payoff. Yet the owner isn't going to come right out and make a direct challenge. That's not his style. But I'm not surprised he finally dropped a few hints that he's looking for more than 74 wins and a third place finish.
"What I’ve always said is when we get to the point where we’re competitive," Glass said, "we’ll do what we have to do to improve our position. Yes, we’ll do what we need to do. We are committed to improving our starting pitching."
The window is closing on The Process. What? It just opened. Barely, at that. However next year, it's the return of Jake Odorizzi, the debut of Wil Myers and that's it. This farm system will then be picked clean of the first wave of talent. And it looks like the second wave is quite a way off. Not that the cupboard is bare, it's just that beyond Myers, there isn't an impact player on the doorstep of promotion. This team... Dayton's team, the nucleus is the one we're going to live with for the next several seasons. Remember how Moore has stated he'd like the majority of his roster to be home-grown? He's there now. They've had a couple of seasons. It's time. (Our time?)
The meter is running. His owner just put him on notice.
It seems like we say this every year, but this is Moore's most important off season as General Manager of the Royals. His job is on the line. Finally. No more of this "eight years" or "ten years" to rebuild a system. The system was rebuilt. The products of the system are here. Now is the time to fill the gaps in the roster. That means dabbling in the free agent and trade markets and making savvy moves that improve the team, allowing them to position themselves for a division title. GMDM did a nice job in the Greinke deal, but his other moves going outside the organization for talent have been underwhelming. How will he perform when his owner is finally expecting contention? I'm not optimistic. But I do feel that this is it... This is Dayton's last chance.
It's pressure time.