There's something to be said about a major announcement that a baseball team buries on the day after Thanksgiving. And make no mistake, this was a major announcement.
It seems there's Black Friday, then there's BLACK Friday.
Otherwise known as the day when David Glass and his family officially extended Royals General Manager Dayton Moore through the 2016 season.
So it looks like that "Fire Dayton Moore" post from last July didn't work. Damnit.
Actually, given how the team finished the season with 86 wins, it would have been shocking if this extension hadn't happened. Glass was never going to let the "lame duck" tag hang on his general manager. That's not how this works. A GM without a contract beyond the current season is doomed to even more second guessing and examination. Moore is already under much scrutiny from everyone without the last name of Glass. Besides, the Royals saved Moore's bacon by going on a second half tear following an underwhelming first half. Moore seemed peeved at the press conference announcing the Ned Yost extension that there hadn't been talks about his own situation, but today that seems just theater. There was no way Moore was going to be the GM in 2014 without a contract beyond. This is the least surprising Royals news of the winter.
But just because we knew this was going to happen at some point doesn't mean we have to stand by and accept it. This is a bad baseball move. We have a track record that says so.
Ultimately, there's only one man to whom Moore needs to convince he's a worthy leader and builder of baseball teams. This contract extension is simply a wink and a nod by Glass. Carry on, Dayton. You're doing a heckuva job. Done deal. Glass sees progress. He sees trades that moved this team from the bottom of the Central to a position somewhere close to contention in 2013. He sees this as momentum. A step in the right direction. And he has decided to reward that progress. Nevermind the trades were made to cover up the fatal flaw of the Royals brain trust under Moore: A colossal failure to develop starting pitching. One step forward, two steps back. Whatever.
That means as a fan base we're screwed.
Moore has done little - if anything - to inspire confidence. We've been over this at length. Yet the extension was a fait accompli. There seems to be little left to be written. Yet this is a blog and I'm supposed to write. Just because this feels like a rehash, doesn't mean we have to sit idly by our internets.
If Moore makes it the entire contract, he will have served 10 full seasons as the GM. We love Dayton quotes, so this one immediately jumps to mind:
"It's not as simple as saying, 'This is what's going to happen in Year 1 and Year 2.' That's bull. If you make enough good decisions, three-year plans turn into two-year plans and five-year plans turn into three-year plans. If you make bad decisions, 10-year plans turn into no plan."
June 6, 2006
It's official. We are now this close to "no plan." As a fan, I really, really don't want to ever truly reach that point. While Moore and Glass provide plenty of fodder for this blog and others like it, this isn't fun. We're watching baseball malpractice on an epic scale. It's been a long winter, metaphorically speaking, and I'm ready for good things to happen. But if we're being honest, we've been at this point for the last several seasons. The above is one of my favorite Dayton quotes. It's so simple, so beautiful. In the shape of a noose. Basically, do the right things and the results will come. Don't do the right things and you'll be paddling upstream for your entire tenure.
Never mind the direction, I'm just surprised Dayton has a paddle at this point.
In 2009, shortly after Moore received his last contract extension, I had a meeting with a guy inside the Royals organization. He was from the Royals public relations arm. I was dead set against the Moore extension and expressed my displeasure. While it was easy to be against that at the time - the Royals were finishing a 97 loss season, the worst full year in Moore's tenure - my reasons against the extension went beyond the loss column. By that point, I had failed to spot a coherent plan. The 25 man roster was a hodgepodge of journeymen, utility guys and players on simply bad contracts. Wait, said the insider. You have to give the young players in the pipeline the chance to develop. He said this with a certain arrogance. I know you're shocked.
Yet, it was a common refrain at the time. Yes, Moore's teams had been colossal failures to that point, but that was simply growing pains. Part of The Process, if you will. Moore wasn't tasked with building a winner by 2009. He had been tasked to build from within. Drafting, scouting, player development... Those were to be the hallmarks of the Moore tenure as GM. He was just getting started.
I agreed to a point. My belief was the farm system and scouting departments were in complete disarray when Moore arrived. I also think Moore himself underestimated the colossal rebuild required. Yet I countered with Yuniesky Betancourt, Miguel Olivo and Mike Jacobs. All players acquired by Moore. All players earning much more than league minimum. And all players playing worse than replacement level. Maybe he could implement a successful draft and develop program, but surely there would be holes in the roster that would need to be filled. The types of players Moore seemed to covet suggested he didn't understand the necessary qualities held by even a league average player. He spoke of the wisdom of OBP, yet his actions told us otherwise.
Relax, said the insider. Moore knows these are lesser players. He needs to spend some money to show the fan base Glass is dedicated to building a winner, so he's simply getting warm bodies to keep the place until the Hosmers and Moustakases of the Royals universe arrive. There is a plan in place. You just need to give it time to be successful.
His mission, I suppose, was to assure me. He failed.
Just for grins, here's what I wrote after Moore was extended in 2009:
I have lost faith in The General Manager to put a quality product together to compete. Over the last two years, he's illustrated that he lacks the vision to construct a roster that makes any kind of sense. Aside from Gil Meche, his free agent acquisitions have been beyond horrible. Jose Guillen alone has crippled this franchise from the moment he reported to camp with 20 extra pounds before the 2008 season. I'm looking to this winter with a great deal of apprehension - I have to hope that The General Manager decides to stay clear of the free agent market, because he's capable of doing more damage.
Four years later, little has changed. Before the Jason Vargas deal, I think Moore felt burned by his free agent plays and had largely shied away from the free agent market. The free agent market is like the Wild West and it doesn't help when a GM and his staff is hopelessly over his head when it comes to negotiating player contracts. His last two major free agent signings were to bring back Bruce Chen and Jeremy Guthrie. Guys who played for the Royals and then entered free agency. Prior to those two the last free agent to get more than a one year deal from Moore was Jason Kendall. Seriously.
Moore gets credit for the 2013 Royals. It's only fair if we hang the losing streaks and miserable seasons on the GM, he gets a thumbs up for an 86 win season. Except the 86 wins were never going to be enough. I see 2013 more as a miscalculation than a triumph. Yes, contention was fun and the Royals best season since 1989 was exciting. But with The Trade, Moore threw a rock through the window of contention. Playoffs or bust. Well, we didn't make the playoffs and we have one more season of James Shields and Ervin Santana is gone... Uh-oh.
It turns out last year's 86 win season was the worst possible scenario for us as Royals fans. It sold David Glass on progress. Which led to extensions for Ned Yost and Dayton Moore. With Yost under contract for the next two years and Moore now down for the next three, it will take a horrific start in 2014 to force a change. We are stuck on the wheel of mediocrity for the foreseeable future. With the Triumvirate of Failure at the helm. This is not good.
The Royals are going to Royal. Glass pockets around $15 million per year and the value of his team skyrockets annually. Moore has a job he's ill suited for and has shown little aptitude for building a successful club based on talent and not character. Yost gets to try to convince himself he can handle pressure while making boneheaded decisions before and during games. Everyone is happy.
Except the fans.
We are now on our 28th year of Octoberless baseball. The wheel is spinning and spinning and won't be stopping anytime soon. Not with Glass in the owner's box, Moore in the GM's office and Yost in the dugout.