Who Will Be the First One to Go?

Ed Zurga

Sam Mellinger comes to the conclusion that someone needs to go. But who?

The Kansas City media is notorious for being - how do you say - "nice." We're a town of nice people with friendly attitudes and homespun Midwestern charm, and our media tends to be no exception. Whether its nice guy Joe Posnanski who wrote here for several years, or his replacement Sam Mellinger, a Lawrence-native, Star sports columnists tend to not rattle the cage too much. After all, they have to work with the people they criticize, unlike us basement-dwelling sports bloggers.

So when one of them does call for heads to roll, well, that is news. And that is what Mellinger calls for today in his column following the sixth Royals loss in a row.

The Royals stink, and that’s not all Ned Yost’s fault. This is a team that can’t get on base, and that’s not all Jeff Francoeur’s fault. They can’t hit, and it’s not fair to put all of that on the new hitting coaches. Sal Perez is the only part of the newest wave of homegrown talent making a major impact, and that’s not all Dayton Moore’s fault. The Royals are tracking toward what would be The Most Disappointing Season in Franchise History, and that’s not all Mike Moustakas’ fault.

But someone's got to go.

So its not any one person's fault. But someone has to be fired. Because that would do....what exactly?

The Royals can sit around and hope their luck evens out, or they can show that losing in bunches is no longer acceptable. It won’t be entirely fair to whoever is dumped, but that’s not the point. The point is that something needs to change.

Ah yes, the old "change for the sake of change" approach. Who cares if its the right decision, so long as its a decision! That will surely shake things up in the clubhouse! It will send a message of accountability! Just like when the Royals:

  • Fired Guy Hansen
  • Fired Allard Baird
  • Fired Trey Hillman
  • Demoted Alex Gordon to Omaha
  • Fired Bob McClure
  • Released Kyle Davies
  • Fired Kevin Seitzer
  • Demoted Luke Hochevar to the bullpen

Remember how all those changes TOTALLY changed the clubhouse and made everyone more accountable?

Let's examine the possible fall guys that could go soon and what their departure may mean:

Dayton Moore, General Manager

Dayton is the architect of this team, and the one that has acquired this lineup full of guys that couldn't identify a ball out of the strike zone in a police lineup. When you put together a team full of free-swingers, don't be surprised when they swing at everything. Dayton has had seven years to put together not a championship-level club, but a team with a winning record. And he has failed. His "best farm system in the history of whatever" has failed to produce anything more than replacement-level disappointments (and arguably James Shields).

Dayton is the one most responsible for this mess, but he is also the least likely to get fired. He has sold ownership on a long-range plan. That plan has gone from a five-year plan to an eight-year plan to a ten-year plan, and could very well be indefinite with an absentee ownership situation. So consider Dayton GM-for-life and learn to embrace it.

Ned Yost, Manager

The manager is often the scapegoat for disappointing seasons, and this is certainly a disappointing season thus far for the Royals. Ned has made some baffling bullpen decisions at times, and his lineup changes weekly, but the bullpen is the least of the team's concerns right now, and Ned can hardly be faulted much for the complete offensive ineptitude of the team. Ned is also very close to Dayton Moore stemming from their days in Atlanta. We saw how broken-up Dayton was about firing Trey Hillman, how do you expect him to even consider firing a fellow Brave? Its hard to see how Ned doesn't at least get a full season.

Andre David and/or Jack Maloof, Hitting Coaches

The offense has been the most glaring weakness on this team. The Royals are thirteent in the league in runs scored, ninth in on-base percentage, thirteenth in slugging, and dead last in home runs. Maloof and David have only been on the job for a few months, replacing popular hitting instructor Kevin Seitzer because the team wanted to move away from Seitzer's approach of going the opposite field with singles and doubles in favor of a more power-based approach. Thus far, it looks like the club is still using Seitzer's philosophy, slapping the ball the other way, and hitting precious few home runs. Its hard to fault David and Maloof for not yet getting hitters to adjust to their new techniques, and hiring a third hitting instructor in a matter of months sends yet a different philosophy for hitters to learn. Still, its pretty clear where this team is suffering the most - hitting.

Jeff Franceour, Right Fielder

Craig lays the case against Jeff pretty clearly here. Everyone that watches Royals games is abundantly aware of just how washed up Jeff Francoeur is at this point. David Lough should probably be playing every day, with maybe Jeff playing 1-2 times a week against a tough left-hander. Once Jarod Dyson comes back off the disabled list, its probably time for Francoeur to be let go altogether. The Royals owe Jeff a little over $4 million for the year that they would have to eat, but at this point, its pretty clear he's not one of the five best outfielders in this organization.

But Jeff is another Braves guy, and a Dayton Moore pet project. Dayton found this guy off the street, gave him a chance, and was rewarded with one good year out of Frenchy. Would he cut bait and admit the contract extension was a mistake? Would he risk losing that infectious clubhouse presence Jeff provides?

Mike Moustakas, Third Baseman

This has gone from bad slump to the equivalent of a full-season of awful hitting. Remember when we were bummed Mike Moustakas wasn't named to the All-Star team? Over Adrian Beltre? That seems like eons ago. Since July 1 of last year, Moustakas is hitting .207/.260/.341 in 481 plate appearances. Only nine Royals players in history have posted a sub-.600 OPS in a full season with at least 481 plate appearances:

Fred Patek

1972

.556

Jackie Hernandez

1969

.560

Neifi Perez

2002

.564

Frank White

1976

.570

Angel Berroa

2006

.592

Brian McRae

1992

.593

David Howard

1996

.595

Frank White

1988

.595

Fred Patek

1975

.599

And yes, Moustakas is hitting worse than Tony Pena Jr. did in 2007. Jeff Zimmerman has done a great job breaking down Moose's problems. Maybe a demotion will help him find his swing or regain confidence (he insists he still has a lot of confidence) or maybe it will serve as the wake-up call he needs to work on his mechanics. Or maybe he's done all he can do against AAA pitching and needs to learn to hit Major Leaguers. Maybe a demotion to the Pacific Coast League and their hitter-friendly environments will only allow him to fall back into bad habits. In any case, the Royals are getting Neifi Perez-type production from third base.

Mark Topping, Video Coordinator

Look, Mark, you've been great. But its just not working out. The team has lost seventeen of its last twenty-one ballgames. They haven't had a winning season in a decade. They haven't made the playoffs since before Lindsay Lohan was born. A lot of that is your responsibility. The buck has to stop somewhere buddy, and the video just hasn't been coordinated the way we know it can be coordinated.

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