The Problem with Management Expecting Improvement Across the Board

Ed Zurga

Following the victory lap press conference held by Dayton Moore announcing Ned Yost's extension there has been plenty to discuss. From the World Series comment to Yost sticking around for a couple more years to the belief that everyone is going to improve going into next season. Of those three, I believe the last thought that was shared by both Moore and Yost is the most concerning. The statements made by both of them can be explained away as positive thinking or supporting the players but I think that ignores a major problem that has been shown when Dayton Moore puts together the roster every year. Namely, Dayton Moore really does believe that players on the Royals will improve every year due to experience and confidence.Why do I believe this? Lets look back through the roster since Dayton Moore has been the general manager and identify a few examples of guys that have continued to stay on the roster despite poor performances.

The poster child for this is Kyle Davies. Davies was acquired in the middle of the 2007, starting 11 games for the Royals and putting up a 6.66 ERA along with a 5.98 FIP. Continuing with him in 2008 was understandable. Finding starting pitchers anywhere is a challenge, so giving him a solid chance the following year made sense. Davies went 9-7 with a 4.06 ERA along with a FIP of 4.22. Great year for him and looking like a pitcher that could be valuable in the future. However, as we know Davies imploded the following seasons. He earned 67 more starts with the Royals while having an ERA well over 5 for his last three years with the Royals. Anybody doubt Dayton Moore thought he was going to keep improving with experience? From Eric Seidman at Fangraphs:

Since 2007, the year he was traded to the Royals, there are 83 pitchers to throw 600+ innings. Davies has the sixth lowest WAR (5.6), the worst ERA (5.40), third worst SIERA (4.87), fifth highest BABIP (.313), second worst WHIP (1.58) and second worst strand rate (66.8 percent). No matter how one slices it, Davies has been the, or one of the, worst starting pitchers in baseball. His career, however, has been anomalous in the sense that most pitchers with numbers this bad don’t have the benefit of throwing almost 800 big league innings.

His release isn’t all that surprising, at least when compared to the shock accompanying his being tendered a contract this season in the first place. The Royals already had a crowded rotation and paying Davies $3.2 million was a complete and utter waste.

Should we move on to Luke Hochevar? Hochevar made 128 starts for the Royals from 2007-2012. During that time, he had his moments of looking like a good starting pitcher. Those moments were greatly overshadowed by the moments where he was a very bad major league starter. ERAs of 5.51, 6.55, 4.81, 4.63, and 5.73 over his five full seasons as a starter are not good. How many times did we hear Luke had turned a corner or fixed something? Management expected him to improve as he gained experience.

Chris Getz is the third head of this monster. Getz was acquired in 2010 from the White Sox, since that time he has accumulated 1,002 at bats with the Royals. Getz has a career line of .251, .310, .309 and he continued to get at-bats and starts for the Royals, waiting for improvement?

We could go on and name Jeff Franceour or Alcides Escobar or maybe even Mike Moustakas but I think the examples provided are enough.

The point isn't that the Royals didn't win because of these guys. It's not that they were wrong to give these guys real chances at becoming quality MLB players. The issue is that despite all evidence we had then and have now, they continued to be put in situations that required more than they were capable. Is this because the front office kept waiting for them to improve? That's the real problem. If the front office believes even a little bit of what they said, it will limit their vision when attempting to improve the roster because they will continue to wait on players to improve instead of filling holes outside of the 40 man roster.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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