FanPost

Dayton Moore Report Card

Ever since Dayton Moore was hired as the General Manager of the Kansas City Royals in May of 2006, I’ve been continually evaluating and re-evaluating him.  I guess that’s what fans do with GM’s.  All of this evaluation has been with the caveat that there has been less data to evaluate him on than I’d like for a sound, comprehensive evaluation.  Well, this offseason has given us several more data points.  And while the evaluation of a GM, just like with a player, is never done, I think we have a good picture of what kind of GM Dayton Moore is and how good he is.

 

Since it is final exam season for many of you, I decided to put this evaluation in the form of a report card.  There are several categories which we must look at (classes) and they are given their appropriate weight (credit hours).  Assigning a grade to each will allow us to come up with GPA for Dayton Moore.  I’ll call it his General manger Proficiency Average.

For each category, I’m listing several relevant moves.  They aren’t complete lists, but they should cover all of the major moves and many of the lesser moves as well.

 

Class: Draft – Pitchers

Credit Hours: 3

 

Sam Runion, RHP (Rd. 2, 2007)

Dan Duffy, LHP (Rd. 3, 2007)

Peter Hodge Nielsen, RHP (Rd. 4, 2007)

Casey Feickert, RHP (Rd. 8, 2007)

Zach Kenyon, RHP (Rd. 9, 2007 - Did not sign)

Greg Holland, RHP (Rd. 10, 2007)

Alex Caldera, RHP (Rd. 13, 2007)

Matt Mitchell, RHP (Rd. 14, 2007)

Michael Montgomery, LHP (Rd. 1A, 2008)

Tyler Sample, RHP (Rd. 3, 2008)

Tim Melville, RHP (Rd. 4, 2008)

John Lamb, LHP (Rd. 5, 2008)

Malcolm Culver, RHP (Rd. 8, 2008)

Derrick Saito, LHP (Rd. 16, 2008)

 

You’ll notice that I didn’t include anything from the 2006 draft.  Moore was hired just before the draft and the Royals, Moore and the Braves had an agreement that since Moore was heavily involved in the Braves draft preparation and had all of their scouting info on potential draftees, he wouldn’t be involved in the Royals draft.  Some have shown skepticism that Moore would actually abide by this agreement and keep his hands off of his new team’s draft, but I’m inclined to believe he wouldn’t make that agreement and then immediately go back on it, stabbing his old team and mentor in the back. 

 

Another reason to not give Moore the credit or blame for the 2006 draft is that while general managers are entirely responsible and accountable for his team’s amateur draft, he’s not usually intimately involved in it.  He is responsible for the team that puts a draft board together and makes the decisions, but he’s not making all or even most of the draft calls.  And since Moore had just been hired, even if it was “his draft,” he hadn’t had time yet to put all of his team in place or evaluate the guys who were currently working on the Royals draft.  Nor would he have had time to replace the draft team if he had wanted to.  In short, I think a fair and honest evaluation of Moore’s drafts should only include 2007 and 2008.

 

The Royals 2007 draft was a little light on good pitching prospects.  We don’t yet know how any prospect drafted in the last two years by the Royals will eventually pan out, but we can evaluate them now based on how they look, how they have performed and how analysts view them.  Duffy was a great find in round 3.  Runion looked to be a stretch in the second round, and still looks that way.  The others haven’t shown much, except that Caldera looks like he was a steal in Round 13.

 

The 2008 draft was much more pitcher-productive.  According to some, like Baseball America, the Royals got three first round-quality pitching talents in their rounds 1A, 3 and 4 selections.  Montgomery and Melville are top 10 Royals prospects and Sample is at least in the top 15.  Moore’s team showed a good eye for pitching talent, as well as a willingness to go overslot to sign pitchers like Melville, Saito and several others.

 

Overall, Moore has done a good job of drafting pitchers.  His people can usually evaluate pitching talent well and they are willing to spend the money necessary to sign them.  But one ok year and one very good year doesn’t get you an “A”.

 

Grade: B

 

Class: Draft – Position Players

Credit Hours: 3

 

Mike Moustakas, SS (Rd. 1, 2007)

Adrian Ortiz, CF (Rd. 5, 2007)

Fernando Cruz, SS (Rd. 6, 2007)

Hilton Richardson, LF (Rd. 7, 2007)

David Lough, CF (Rd. 11, 2007)

Sean McCauley, C (Rd. 12, 2007)

Eric Hosmer, 1B (Rd. 1, 2008)

Johnny Giavotella, 2B (Rd. 2, 2008)

Alex Llanos, SS (Rd. 6, 2008)

Jason Esposito, 3B (Rd. 7, 2008 – Did not sign)

John Alfaro, SS (Rd. 9, 2008)

Mauricio Matos, C (Rd. 10, 2008)

Malcolm Bronson, OF (Rd. 11, 2008)

 

I see two really good prospects on that list, and that’s about it.  I think the Royals did well with Moustakas and Hosmer, but it’s hard to go really wrong with a pick that high.  And while Moustakas is a very good prospect, the Royals erred bigtime in not picking Wieters.  Overall I don’t see much to get excited about other than those top two prospects.  I see some tools, but nothing that really blows me away.  Ortiz is toolsy but very raw and hasn’t shown much on the field.  Giavotella looks good, but most say he’s not a high ceiling player.  The others have some promise but nothing to get particularly excited about.  Two top prospects from good draft slots, the Wieters miss and a bunch of ho-hum picks adds up to a less than spectacular grade.

 

Grade: C-

 

Class: Free Agents and Contract Extensions - Pitchers

Credit Hours: 3

 

Gil Meche

Brett Tomko

David Riske

Ron Mahay

Horacio Ramirez (second acquisition)

Joakim Soria (contract extension)

John Bale (first acquisition)

John Bale (second acquisition)

Yasuhiko Yabuta

Kyle Farnsworth

Doug Waechter

 

That’s quite a muddled picture.  I think the Meche signing and Soria extension were great moves, probably the two best of Moore’s tenure.  Meche has performed at a level better than his salary for each of the first two seasons of the contract.  And Soria is an elite closer with starter potential with a contract that bought out two free agency years.  This contract makes him very valuable both as a player and as a potential trading chip.  Also on the plus side, in a much smaller degree, is the Riske signing, which gave us good pitching and supplementary round draft pick.

 

Then there’s the other side of the coin.  Mahay and Tomko were a bit expensive for their actual and likely production.  Bale was ok, but didn’t earn his salary due to injuries both years, but I do like his cheap re-signing.  Yabuta has been a complete failure so far.  And the Ramirez re-acquisition and the Farnsworth signing look like significant overspends for marginal talent.  I could say more about the wisdom of these signings, but suffice it to say that the magnitude of the mistakes here is quite high.

 

Overall, you’ve got two big pluses (Meche and the Soria extension), one big minus (the Farnsworth signing) and a bunch of smaller minuses.  In sum, I think the magnitude of the pluses is greater than that of the minuses.

 

Grade: B-

 

Class: Free Agents and Contract Extensions – Position Players

Credit Hours: 3

 

Jose Guillen

Ross Gload (contract extension)

Mark Grudzielanek (twice re-signed)

 

Wow, is the list that short?  Really?  I am ashamed to admit that I liked the signing of Jose Guillen at the time.  His 2008 performance coupled with a deeper understanding of the value of defense has shown me that it was a truly massive mistake.  While I think his hitting will be better in 2009 than it was in 2008, it and his defense are going to make him worth much, much less than the money he’s getting.  Ross Gload’s contract extension was a smaller mistake, but clearly a failure on Moore’s part.  He wasn’t worthy of the money.  He wasn’t worthy of two guaranteed years.  And his presence on the roster and in the lineup took some playing time away from Butler and kept Shealy in Omaha.  I don’t know if Shealy is any good, but he has/had some potential, while Gload’s best days are behind him (and they weren’t that good).

 

Grudzielanek was a good player for the Royals, but that doesn’t mean re-signing him over and over again was a smart move.  He hit ok for a second baseman and his defense was pretty good, but his range decreased with every year.  And when the Royals had German and then Callaspo, Grudz didn’t really make any sense on this team, especially when he cost $4M+.  His final re-signing did eventually give rise to a arbitration offer, a rejection and thus a likely supplementary round compensation pick.

 

There’s only one grade that fits these moves.

 

Grade: F

 

Class: Trades – Pitchers and Position Players

Credit Hours: 6

 

Howell – Gathright

Dessens – Perez/Johnson/Pimentel/cash

Affeldt/Bautista – Shealy

Sisco – Gload

Cordier – Pena

PTBNL – LaRue/cash

Huber – pack of Big League Chew

Graffanino – De La Rosa

De La Rosa – R. Ramirez

R. Ramirez – Crisp

Burgos - Bannister

Buckner – Callaspo

H. Ramirez – Orlando

Nunez - Jacobs

 

This is clearly a mixed bag.  There are many small and moderate pluses and many small and moderate minuses.  None of these trades was an absolute killer and none of them was a spectacular win.  Moore has recognized the fungibility of relievers and traded them frequently and with mixed results.  Turning Dessens into an affordable place holder starting pitcher and two decent prospects was impressive.  The serial parlays of turning Graffanino into DLR into RamRam into Crisp was nicely played.  Trading a live arm with crappy results and a one-cent head (Burgos) into an effective starting pitcher (Bannister) was inspired.  Trading Howell for Gathright was poor talent evaluation and need prioritization.  I think Shealy for Affeldt/Bautista was a wash given that it was only 1 ½ years of team control of a mildly effective relief pitcher for what appeared to be a MLB-ready power hitting first baseman.  Nunez for Jacobs was a clear screw up.

 

There were clear wins and clear losses, but I’ll give Moore credit for coming out on top more often than not.

 

Grade: C+

 

Class: Waiver Claims, Minor League Contracts, Rule 5 Draft

Credit Hours: 2

 

Joakim Soria

Horacio Ramirez (first acquisition)

Robinson Tejeda

Jason Smith

Brayan Pena

J.R. House

 

There are many more than this, but most of them were very minor and not worth mentioning.  Soria is the obvious standout here.  Moore’s team found a true impact player in the Rule 5 Draft.  While there was some talk about him before the draft, he wasn’t a “how could he be left unprotected?  He’s great and he’s definitely going to get snatched up fast!”  This was a big one and Moore gets great credit for it. 

 

Other moves like picking up H. Ramirez and turning him into an effective reliever, and doing the same thing with Tejeda and the other moves were all mild positives that made sense and were a wise use waiver power and minor league money.

 

As these are inherently low-risk moves, this is a tough class to fail.  It’s the “Art Appreciation” of the GM’s report card.  But Moore has done much better than merely passing this class by showing up.  He’s found some real diamonds in the rough.

 

Grade: A

 

Class: Tender/Non-Tender Decisions

Credit Hours: 1

 

Non-tendered E. Brown in 2007

Tendered J. Smith in 2007

Re-signed Duckworth 2008

Non-tendered Bale

Tendered Gobble

Non-tendered Gathright

Re-signed German

Offered arbitration to Grudzielanek, which he rejected.

 

There isn’t a lot that jumps out at me.  For the most part, he made wise decisions.  Emil needed to go.  He made a smart move in non-tendering Bale and re-signing him for less.  He cut a good deal with German.  He made the right move with Grudzielanek, gambling that he wouldn’t accept, and it paid off.  I don’t know why he gave guaranteed major league money to Jason Smith in 2007, but oh well.

 

Grade: B+

 

Class: Promotions and Demotions

Credit Hours: 1

 

Butler called up in 2007

Butler sent down in 2008

Gordon stays in the majors for all of 2007 and 2008

Aviles called up in May 2008

Hochevar starts 2008 in Omaha

Brazell gets a cup of coffee in 2008

The Huber saga

 

A general manager can’t really control how players on the 25-man roster are used, but he can control who is on that roster.  In addition to acquiring and dumping players, GM’s control who gets called up to the majors and who gets sent down.  The above list isn’t bad, but it isn’t a great list either.  I think Butler was called up needlessly early in 2007.  He was so young and had less than a season of AAA experience.  Neither impatience nor a frustrated fanbase are a good reason to rush a prospect.  And in this case, I don’t mean “rush” as in hurt his development by move him up too fast.  I mean push him up to the majors before he’s ready to really excel, perhaps leading the Royals to not get his best years out of the six years they’ll have control of him.  This was partially mitigated in 2008 when the Royals sent Butler down for a while, adjusting his service time clock so that they’d get another year of team control out of him.

 

Moore handled Hochevar well.  He got a full season in the minors, and then probably enough time in Omaha to start 2008 that the Royals will get an extra year of team control from him.  It looks like he called him up at the right time, in the right way.

 

I can’t fault Moore for leaving the best prospect in baseball – Alex Gordon – in the majors for all of 2007.  Sending him down may have helped, but I doubt it.  For great talents like him, you don’t learn how to hit major league pitching by practicing against minor league pitching.  And I think his 2008 performance showed that he really was a major leaguer who had no business in the minors.

 

And then there’s the guys Moore didn’t call up.  He gets credit for calling up a guy who had appeared for a long time to be an unimpressive prospect – Mike Aviles – in May of 2008.  Of course, TPJ as cratering and Aviles basically the only shortstop option so he wasn’t being too bold.  But why wasn’t he that un-bold in 2007?  Shealy was injured most of the season and Gload was, for the most part, sucking.  Why not call up Brazell, who was having a freaky Aviles/Ka’aihue-like season?  Why not call up Huber in 2006 or 2007 and finally give him a look?  Their minor cups of coffee in September didn’t amount to much and so they don’t count for much.  I really don’t think either of them would have panned out to be anything.  But they were worth a look when there were holes on the team and few potentially decent options even in the minors.

 

Sticking with sub-mediocre vets too often for too long keeps Moore from getting a really good grade here.

 

Grade: B-

 

Class: Organization and Staffing

Credit Hours: 3

 

Increased spending in Latin America

Increased draft spending

Added another rookie league team

Replaced Ladnier

Hired Hillman

Added scouts, especially internationally

Made significant changes in the scouting staff

 

The increased spending on international free agents and increased draft spending are both big pluses, but Moore and Glass could and should do more.  The failure to draft Wieters speaks to a lack of willingness to spend the extra million or two which might be necessary to get the best first round pick.  Hopefully Moore and Glass had a change of heart which they showed in 2008.  Moore could also spend a lot more on Latin American free agents.  While I don’t think it makes sense to shell out $4M for one 16-year-old pitcher, I think it makes a lot of sense to spend that much money on eight toolsy 16-year-olds.

 

Adding another rookie league team and hiring new scouts is a big positive.  These are things that cost considerably less than signing a mediocre veteran free agent, but pays huge dividends down the road.  That’s the kind of financial efficiency which small market teams must employ.  But the scouts have to be good in order for the investment to pay off.  So far, I think it is fair to say that the Royals scouts have been very good at evaluating pitching talent and pretty poor at evaluating the talent of position players.

 

General managers run a large operation and many of the important evaluations, moves and decisions are delegated to staff.  This doesn’t mean that the GM isn’t responsible for it, but it does show the importance of staffing decisions.  This year, Moore replaced Deric Ladnier with J.J. Picollo as Scouting Director.  Ladnier had been in charge of the Royals drafts for a long time.  This included some great draft decisions and some horrible ones.  But, overall, his drafts didn’t produce enough talent and he was one of the reasons Moore inherited one of the worst minor league systems in baseball.  So, getting rid of Ladnier is a good thing, but it’s too soon to tell if Picollo is an improvement.

 

Moore’s other big hire was Trey Hillman.  What can you say about Trey?  He’s a run of the mill, garden variety, very average traditional manager.  He doesn’t think outside the box.  He wants the fastest guy at the top of the lineup.  He’s willing to sac bunt in the third inning.  He thinks that teams with less power have to run more.  Is he a bad manager?  No, he’s a normal, average manager who doesn’t take advantage of those things that a smart, open minded, progressive manager could take advantage of.  Moore is a traditional GM who hired a very traditional manager.  The hire was safe, boring and uninspired.

 

Again, there’s considerably more good than bad here.  Most of these things represent real progress over the Moore era.  But most of the good moves are good half moves.

 

Grade: B-

 

So let’s see what the grade card looks in total.  I’m using a standard 4-point grade point system, with a +/- bonus/penalty of .2.  This means that a B+ gets 3.2 points and a B- gets 2.8 points.

 

 

Grade

Gr. Pts.

Cr. Hours

Credits

Draft PIT

B

3

3

9

Draft PP

C-

1.8

3

5.4

Free Agent PIT

B-

2.8

3

8.4

Free Agent PP

F

0

3

0

Trade PIT & PP

C+

2.2

6

13.2

Waiver/mlc/Rule 5

A

4

2

8

Tender/Non-tender

B

3.2

1

3.2

Promotions/Demotions

B-

2.8

3

8.4

Org. & Staff

B-

2.8

2

5.6

TOTAL

 

 

26

61.2

GPA

C+

2.35

 

 

 

So what do we have here.  I’m not going to pretend that this report card is some super-terrific advanced metric which tells you how good general manager is.  But I do think that giving him a C+, meaning a bit better than average, is fairly appropriate.  And if that’s how good he is, I don’t think he’s going to get the Royals into a League Championship Series.  If a small market team’s GM is just a little above average, with some luck and players peaking together at the right time, you can get to the playoffs every now and then (think once or twice every 10 years…maybe).  But that’s about it.  Just good enough to squeak in occasionally and quickly get run out of the playoffs.  That's not good enough.  I hope more data points yield better results.

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.