We're a microwave society. We want it right now.
-- Trey Hillman, October 2, 2008
In our immediate gratification society, everybody wants to point fingers.
--Dayton Moore, September 4, 2009
It all goes back to what we all get judged on - wins and losses - because that's what counts in our world and in our culture of immediate satisfaction and what have you done for me today.
-- Trey Hillman, September 15, 2009
I know what the fans want. They want it, and they want it now. Instant gratification just doesn't work in baseball.
-- Ned Yost, May 18, 2013
Congratulations, Ned. You just joined the ranks of Trey Hillman and Dayton Moore in the annals of telling the Royals fans they need to be patient. Because, you know, instant gratification just doesn't work.
Just another day when someone from the Kansas City Royals opens their mouth and inserts their foot.
Another day when someone tells me - a fan of nearly 35 years - to be patient. To stop wanting... To stop demanding this team improve. Because, damnit, instant gratification just doesn't work. There's a timetable to this. And if it doesn't jive with our expectations as fans, tough cookies.
At the end of this month, Dayton Moore will celebrate his seventh year in charge of the Royals. Seven years. Lest I be accused of unfairly piling on our erstwhile GM, I should point out that in the last four years, the Royals have shown steady improvement. I mean, in 2009 the Dayton Moore Royals won just 65 games. Yet they rallied under unbelievable pressure from the instant gratification society to add two wins to their total in 2010. Yes, 67 wins! And the next season, they got even better. Instant gratification be damned, the Dayton Moore Royals won 71 games in 2011. They said it couldn't be done. Yet the team improved yet again in 2012. Amazing. Who among us doesn't remember the instant gratification we felt when we celebrated a 72 win team?
In the span of four seasons, Dayton Moore and Ned Yost - with an assist from SABR Trey Hillman - have pushed the win needle upward. Consistently. By seven total wins! This must have been how Sir Edmund Hilary felt when he conquered Everest. Not every team can be as fortunate as to be led by a visionary combo like Moore and Yost. We are lucky. And if you doubt that, they'll be sure to tell you.
Be grateful this dynamic duo are piloting the course.
The losing, I can take. I am a Royals fan, after all. But it's the constant attempt at justification that this is part of The Process that drives me bananas. The sanctimony. It's brutal. Dayton Moore has been preaching patience since the day he took the job. And when he began a rebuilding project, he was granted that patience. I have no doubt the state of the farm system and scouting and player development departments were barren. I think he's improved the farm system. The infrastructure and the personnel are miles ahead of what the previous regime left. Yet over the course of the last seven years, there is nothing to show. We have seen prospect after prospect fail.
Patience gets you only so far. At some point, you need to show results. In my opinion, we crossed that threshold a couple years ago.
Mike Moustakas has over 1,130 major league plate appearances and his career line is .240/.294/.384. This season, his line is .178/.252/.311. He's not getting better. He's worse. And it's not just his offense. His defense has gone backwards.
Eric Hosmer has over 1,300 major league plate appearances and his career line is .261/.320/.402. This season, his line is ..252/.329/.326. Our regular first baseman has a lower slugging percentage than his on base percentage and has completely lost the ability to turn on a baseball.
And Yost has the audacity to lecture the fanbase that we need to "give them time to develop."
Both players are the alleged cornerstones of this franchise. They were high draft picks and the consensus top players at their position in their respective drafts. They motored through the minors with a few speedbumps, but the success was most certainly there. And today they are not good major league ballplayers.
Luke Hochevar, Danny Duffy*, Mike Montgomery, Tim Melville, John Lamb, Chris Dwyer, Christian Colon, Bubba Starling. The list of former top prospects who have seen their development stall or collapse has been staggering. For sure, there is an attrition rate of prospect lists. It's the nature of the beast. Dayton Moore has yet to have a single draft pick develop into a worthwhile every day major league player. That's going back six drafts.
*Please don't tell me I shouldn't include Duffy in this list. A starting pitcher who walked 4.7 BB/9 before he was injured doesn't qualify as a decent major leaguer. He still has potential. But that's something every player on this list had at one time. I know the "Wait until Duffy gets back" crowd made noise early in the season, but I'm not optimistic we'll see anything from him in 2013. And given the track record I'm discussing... Sigh.
This isn't about sending Moustakas and Hosmer to the minors. Or what it will take to get them right. It's about the excuses. The constant reminder that this takes time. If I had a third baseman tree, I'd pull it out of the ground, take it to an arborist and see if he could germinate it into a general manager tree.
Is this bad luck or bad player development? It's absolutely the latter. Seven years on the job and the Royals best two position players were acquired by Dayton Moore's predecessor. That has to leave a mark. The best farm system in the history of farm systems has yet to produce an everyday player or starting pitcher of quality. It's an embarrassing failure. And when called on it, management flips the script and blames the fans. They blame you. It's your fault this team isn't good because your expectations are out of line. Rewind yourself, because nobody just shows up in the major leagues and is immediately successful. It's your fault Moustakas and Hosmer aren't even league average. It's your fault Duffy blew out his arm, Montgomery lost his command and Starling needed LASIK. If they hadn't felt the pressures of your demands of instant gratification, they could maybe have contributed something positive. Instead, they are shells of potential. Lost.
Yost is the man on the front lines. He's the guy who has to face the questions about the inept and incomplete roster his boss assembled. It's not surprising he snapped. The guy is known to fold under pressure.
I'm still of the opinion this is a team built for 78 wins. With a couple of breaks, they could get to .500. We're 41 games into the season and the club has 20 wins. That's about right. There will be good games where they string together a few singles and some doubles and score some runs. There will be bad games where they swing at everything and scatter five hits through nine. The only thing consistent about this team will be their inconsistency. That's the nature of a .500 team. I know the theme this offseason was "contention," but the true vision was break even baseball.
In the meantime, Moore and Yost need to quit the lectures. Save their instant gratification bullshit. Fans have stood by this organization. Why? The bromides serve only to insult their most loyal supporters: The season ticket holders, the FanFest attendees, the faithful viewers and listeners, those who scrape and save their hard earned cash to buy single game tickets, hats and jerseys... Those loyal supporters have known for a long time that Yost isn't the manager for a team with pennant aspirations and they've also known that Moore is out of his depth when it comes to constructing a roster and putting the proper staff in place to develop the talent the scouts have found. The off season moves and the increased expectations heightened awareness and now have served to expose their flaws to a wider audience. That's the only good thing to come of this. The Royals brain trust needs to feel the discontent of the fanbase.
I remember when Moore was given a contract extension. I was opposed, but was told by the media and those close to the team that I was being unfair. That I needed to give Moore time, because that's what it would take to build a winner. Here we are, four years later and nothing has changed. Oh... Sorry. They're seven wins better.
It's been 28 years since the Royals played in October. Seven years since Moore was hired. But you need remember to be patient. Instant gratification doesn't work in baseball.