Time for change: Fire Dayton Moore

Ed Zurga

Seven years.

Earlier this year, I laid out a case why Dayton Moore wasn't suited to be the General Manager of the Kansas City Royals. Among the evidence I presented was his infatuation with replacement level players, his inability to construct a coherent major league roster while misreading the markets and his complete failure on the player development front.

Taken together, it's a damning dossier of fail. The purpose of those posts was to build a list of my reasons I thought Dayton Moore wasn't a good general manager. It was to itemize his shortcomings, so that when the time came, I could return to those posts with more pointed commentary.

It's time.

Today, I'm calling for the firing of Dayton Moore.

This is not a position I take lightly. I want to make it clear this is nothing personal. This is about one man, his efforts to transform a franchise and his ultimate failure to make meaningful progress.

Moore gave it his best shot. I appreciate the effort. I appreciate the aggressive drafting, the bold strategies, the attempt to rebuild a sad-sack franchise. But seven years is enough. The failures, the excuses, the constant ineptitude are all things that add up over time. Progress was promised. It hasn't happened. And with Dayton Moore in charge it's clear it won't happen anytime soon.

It's time to clean house at One Kauffman Way.

In the end, it was Moore's failure to identify the problems with his Process and his inflexibility in addressing those problems he noticed which held the Royals back and prevented him from finding success as a general manager in Kansas City.

"I'm not talking about getting to .500, I'm talking about winning the World Series when I say eight to 10 years."

Dayton Moore
May 20, 2009

"Obviously, the ultimate goal is a world championship. But how many winning seasons have we had in the last 20 years? Two? We have to overcome that hurdle first and then move past it, and we're trying to do it as quickly as possible."

Dayton Moore
July 18, 2013

We're in Year Seven. One year removed in Moore's Process from talking about the World Series. Yet we first have to get to .500. Got that?

This is just another example of the sliding timeline of Dayton Moore. It's been revised, pushed back and manipulated since the day he took the job.

He first touted serious contention in 2009, just prior to his third full season. Speaking with the Sporting News, Moore noted his team's 13-game improvement in the win column in the previous two seasons. That would act as a springboard to, "not only improve, but to compete within our division. You say the same thing every year, but this year I think it has much more meaning when we say that."

The Royals finished 65-97 that year.

Now I realize one role of the general manager is to play cheerleader or carnival barker. The GM is the guy who assembles the talent and Moore sees one of his roles to sell that talent to the fanbase. He's not alone in this. Yet after the failures of '09, Moore seemed to reset his sights. Instead of going for this year (whatever year that was) it became about something more exciting. The future. Like the Jetsons and their flying cars, video telephones and robot maids. Except this version was chock full of homegrown talent who pitched, slugged and played defense with the best of the American League.

Ahhh... The Process.

The Process was not a smooth ride. The dates began to shift. From 2011 to 2012 and 2013 and 2014. All were mentioned as potential years of contention.

"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."

Dayton Moore
June 6, 2006

It was a promising start. A new, bright, young general manager who learned the ropes in the Atlanta Braves organization. If there was ever a model for building a consistent winner, it was found in Atlanta. More impressive than his resume was the fact he basically challenged David Glass. The old way where you cut costs and pinched every penny wasn't going to fly with this new general manager. There would be spending. Not just on contracts, but behind the scenes. A gutted scouting department was rebuilt. Player development was emphasized. It was a blueprint that made so much sense for a small market team. By being aggressive with the draft and scouting, the Royals would build a pipeline that would continually feed the major league club with talent. I think we understood it would take time to identify and develop that talent. Moore took over a franchise that lost over 100 games in four of its previous five seasons. This isn't the NFL, where fortunes seem to change from season to season. This was something that could take three to five years before we started seeing the benefits of this plan. Remember... "If you make enough good decisions, three-year plans turn into two-year plans and five-year plans turn into three-year plans."

Year seven.

Moore's modus operandi is to appeal for time. Pennant winners aren't built in a year. Or two. It takes multiple years. Multiples of multiple.

That's wonderful news. Except for every example Moore gives where it took time to build a winner - like the '02 Minnesota Twins - a team that took eight years under GM Terry Ryan to win the division, there's a counter like the Tampa Bay Rays, who jumped from 66 wins in '07 to 97 wins and a trip to the World Series in '08. That was after just two full seasons under GM Andrew Friedman. Two years. In a more difficult division. With a market similar to that in Kansas City. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Friedman's and Tampa's successes has been their consistency. They have finished above .500 each season since '08 and have made two more trips to the playoffs. This wasn't some fluke. You don't have that kind of sustained success without a plan. Yet Moore wants you to believe that to build a successful team it takes seven to eight years.

Sure. In some cases it can take time to field a pennant winning ballclub. But there's plenty of evidence out there to suggest there's more than one way to build a winner.

Some baseball facts since Dayton Moore's first full season in Kansas City:

-- 28 major league franchises have finished above .500.
-- 22 franchises have made the post season.
-- Each team from the AL Central has played at least once in the post season.
-- Yodazilla has some excellent numbers looking at the length of time it took each franchise to go from a losing record to the postseason.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to finish .500 this season. That means unless the Royals win 39 of their remaining 70 games (a .557 winning percentage) they will be the only team since 2007 to have never finished above .500. The players have changed. The GM is the same. It's not difficult to connect the dots.

Dayton Moore's 2013 plan was to trade the best prospect from his farm system who happened to be one of the best prospects in all of baseball for a pair of starting pitchers. On paper, it sounds like something a team close to contention (or already in contention) does. You trade your unknown assets for known commodities in hopes those commodities push your team to the top. Trades are always a gamble. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. The best deals - like the Fred McGriff deadline deal to Atlanta in '93, or more closer to our hearts, Zack Greinke in the winter of '10 - do exactly as hoped. They propel the "buying" team to the postseason.

In this case, Moore failed to properly evaluate his club. Or his plan was based on hope. Hope this move turned the Royals into a .500 team. Hope that the Tigers stumbled like they did in 2012. Hope the Royals could keep themselves within striking distance for as long as possible. Hope...

You have two options in evaluating his motives behind The Trade. Neither option is palatable. Nor is either option acceptable from a major league general manager with seven years at the helm. I hate the term "all-in" because it was overused, but there was some validity to using this poker term to describe the move Moore made last December. It was ballsy. If I may continue the hackneyed poker analogies, Moore pushed all-in while holding a 5-9 off-suit and was basically drawing for the inside straight. If you're not familiar with poker, that's OK. Believe me when I tell you it's insane when a player goes all-in an an unsuited 5-9. And if I may mix my metaphors, it's basically a Hail Mary move. If it works, brilliant. Yet the odds are stacked against you. And when it doesn't work, then someone is going to have to pay.

That's where we are now. Dayton Moore has to pay for his failure in properly evaluating the team he assembled. He's been failing at this part of his job for a long time, but after going "all-in" the damage is much worse than before.

When we look back on Moore's tenure with the Royals, I think the most damning evidence against him is his two best players seven years into his management of the team were drafted by his predecessor.

Firing him can't be a difficult decision.

Moore, bless his heart, is still fighting.

"There's no reason this team can't go on a run where you win 15 of 20."

Dayton Moore
July 18, 2013

Dayton Moore has spent the last seven years detached from reality. Wait. That may not be fair. Maybe he believes his team as currently constructed has the ability to play a stretch of .750 baseball. It is possible he believes what he tells the beat reporters. Reality tells us the last time a Royals team got that hot was back in April of 2003. BHWick has an excellent FanPost listing the instances when the Royals have won 15 out of 20 games. This is a team that averages 4.0 runs per game. Yes, the pitching is good, but it's not good enough to overcome that weak offense. This isn't a team that can play 10 games over .500 no matter the arbitrary endpoints you choose. This team is not that good.

Moore's failure to recognize reality is not a good look.

There's plenty of evidence Moore is detached from reality. I offer Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies, Jeff Francoeur, Chris Getz. Those are just four players Moore has clung to (and paid millions of dollars to) for far too long. And it's not just these four players. Then, there's the stubbornness, the paranoia, the excuses. It's all on display and it doesn't paint a complimentary picture. The Royals don't take walks? Blame the stadium. There's an athletic utility guy who can't field and lacks an adequate hit tool? Claim him on waivers. You don't have talent? Tell everyone leadership will win a pennant. The fans are upset because the Royals aren't winners? Lecture them about The Process.

Please. I think we've seen enough.

The trade deadline is approaching. After that, it's the grind of August and playing out the string in September. While the games are being played on the field, front offices across baseball are preparing for the off-season. They are crafting budgets, identifying trade or free agent candidates and evaluating their farm systems. It's a constant process where there really is no off-season. Every day is about figuring out how to improve your team. This is why the Glass Family must act now and remove Moore from his position. Every day with a failed regime in place is another day where an opportunity for improvement is missed. It's not about falling further behind like the Allard Baird days. It's about treading water, wasting your current resources and failing to make progress.

When Dayton Moore arrived in Kansas City, he signed a contract that would expire after the 2010 season. In August of 2009, in the midst of a season where the Royals would lose 96 games, Dayton Moore signed a four-year contract extension that locked him up through the 2014 season. Now, we are at a similar point where Moore is about to enter the final season of his contract, where Moore signed his last extension. That means in the next six weeks, David and Dan Glass will likely have a decision to make. It's our responsibility as fans to make sure they make the right decision. Hopefully, they make the decision quickly so we can move forward under new leadership.

There's been some talk about Dayton Moore and a "moral hazard" where he will make shortsighted decisions in an attempt to save his job. Maybe I'm naive, but I don't think this is an issue. General managers, managers and other baseball personnel have been in the game long enough to know the axe can fall at any time and for any reason. If they spent their lives looking over their shoulder, they'd go insane. For all his faults, I don't think Moore is the type of person who would sacrifice the long-term security for a short-term risk in an attempt to remain employed. But that doesn't mean I want him in charge of the Royals for the rest of the season. The sooner the split happens, the better.

"We've won 18 games before in September with lesser talent. So I'm going to stick with the plan."

Dayton Moore
July 18, 2013

This quote almost perfectly encapsulates Moore's tenure with the Royals. The fuzzy logic where he cites an irrelevant, old team playing meaningless September baseball. The unwavering belief his Process is working. The stubbornness in refusing to alter from a path that is obviously flawed. (If only he had dropped some paranoia in there, the above quote would have been the Dayton Moore Quadruple Crown Quote.)

Things got strange on Thursday with Moore going on the defensive in separate interviews with the Kansas City Star and Fox Sports Kansas City. Then came the news the Royals were sending Johnny Giavotella back to Omaha and recalling Chris Getz. It's just another day in the life of the Royals. Ten games. That's what they gave Giavotella this time. Meanwhile, Mike Moustakas is hitting .061/.169/.061 with runners in scoring position and is still hitting in the heart of the Royals lineup. The Giavotella/Getz swap wasn't the impetus behind calling for Moore to be fired. But if it's one of Moore's final moves as the General Manager of the Royals, it seems fitting. The blind faith in one player. The impatience with another. And the roster churn while ignoring the largest problem in your lineup is simply baffling. But that's Dayton Moore.

My favorite part from Dutton's article:

Club officials also believe the Royals have more upside potential than either of the two teams ahead of them - Detroit and Cleveland - in the American League Central Division.

They mean more short-term upside potential.

That view - which seems an undeniably optimistic slant - contends that, barring a major trade, the Tigers and the Indians are as good as they're likely to be.

The Royals see their own club, in contrast, as a young collection still in the process of jelling.

Really. Detroit has played four games worse than their Pythag. Cabrera, Fielder, Verlander, Sanchez, Hunter and the rest of their roster is pretty much playing at their peak. I'll go out on a limb and say the Tigers peak is better than the Royals upside. And if "club officials" really believe the Royals have eight games of "upside" in them to make up the deficit facing them in the Central... I'm speechless.

Yet another sign this organization is detached from reality. And if you're not grounded in reality, how can you make coherent decisions to impact your position? This is a losing battle all around.

Calling for someone to be sacked is never pleasant. Dayton Moore is a good man. I believe he cares about the Royals, his players and I know for a fact he cares about this community. As I said at the top, this isn't personal. I wish Moore nothing but success in his future work in baseball. I wish it could have worked out in Kansas City. Maybe in a couple of years, new leadership brings the Royals to the postseason and we can look back and tip our caps to Moore for truly starting a successful process.

Sadly, it's clear that with the current regime in place, success isn't going to happen. That's why it's time for a change.

I go back to the quote from Seinfeld about rooting for laundry. He was talking about players moving teams, but I think it's applicable to the front office as well. Moore and his crew are baseball lifers. If they are fired today, they'll find other jobs in the game soon enough. Players and management come and go. Fans are the ones that stick around. Fans are the ones who spend their money for a ticket. They are the ones who go to FanFests and buy the gear. They call the postgame radio shows and visit the blogs. Interest levels may ebb and flow with the fortunes of the team, but there's a damn loyal base to this team that's not going anywhere. I think those of us in this community at Royals Review are part of that loyal base and we deserve to have our voices heard. Most of us were here before Moore accepted his current position and most of us will be here long after he's gone. In the scheme of things, it's the fans, and the continuity they bring, who are the most important.

Seven years without a hint of success. And our GM is still trying to sell his Process. Sorry, I can no longer buy. I take no pleasure in asking for the General Manager of my favorite baseball team to be fired. I badly wanted Dayton Moore and The Process to succeed. I want to experience the real thrill of a pennant race. I want to buy tickets to go to The K in October. I want baseball to be relevant in the city I love. I want a packed stadium. I want a winner.

After seven years, it's clear none of this will happen with Dayton Moore in charge.

Thank you for your service, Mr. Moore. It's time for the Glass Family to let you go.

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