This past weekend marked exactly eight years Dayton Moore has been on the job as General Manager (technically Dayton agreed to the job June 1, 2006, but did not take over until after the amateur draft that week). It was a thrilling week for the Royals fans. Its hard to remember now, but Dayton Moore was at the time considered one of the best General Manager candidates in the game. He had turned down an offer to run the Arizona Diamondbacks and an interview with the Boston Red Sox following Theo Epstein's departure. But he actually wanted to come here, in this godforsaken 100-loss-a-year mess. The local boy wanted to return to his roots. Who says we can't land free agents?
Joe Posnanski was giddy with excitement:
I exchanged e-mails with six baseball executives on Saturday, and while all asked not to be identified, all were wildly impressed with Moore. As one of them wrote: "There are certain people who have IT. I knew Dayton had IT two minutes after meeting him."
The funny part about Moore is that five different baseball people, when asked to name Moore's greatest strength, listed five different things. One said he was well-organized. Another said he had a knack for developing talent. A third said his strength was communication and leadership. And so on. The truth seems to be, as yet another impressed executive wrote, he has a "good understanding in a lot of functional areas."
"In my opinion," he wrote, "that's the ideal general manager."
Our own fearless leader Will McDonald was far more skeptical of the hire, especially once Braves writer Bill Shanks began bragging about how anti-stats Dayton Moore really was.
What the Royals really need is intellectual flexibility and a multi-faceted plan that incorporates every conceivable angle. With every dynasty, the underlings that fail in new jobs are those that merely mimic (these seem to be the most media savvy, and generally liked for some reason) and stubbornly insist on "doing it like we did it in X" etc. Those that succeed take the best of what they learned under X, and adapt to the ever changing game and landscape, as well as the unique constraints of the current place. Remember this: the Royals can't be the Braves, hell, for the last 5 years, the Braves haven't even been able to be the Braves, as their revenues/access to revenues has declined. I know nothing about Moore, no one does, its like one of the central messages of The Red Badge of Courage, you don't know how you'll react until you get there....
Unlike Joe Posnanski, who played a crucial role in getting this regime change rolling, I don't get warm and fuzzy when Moore talks about his family, and how that was part of his decision. I don't care about his family, and I'm not impressed that he does, either. Big deal. Its much like the stupid fascination with the loyalty of the Mafia... doesn't just about everyone like at least half their family? Lets stop giving people blue stars for not being sociopaths and move on.
Moore was hired over uninspiring retreads like Randy Smith and Ed Wade with the stipulation that the Royals invest more money in player payroll and amateur drafting and development. Since then we have seen the Glass family hold up their end of the bargain, putting the Royals near the top of the league in money invested in the draft, with franchise record payrolls in recent seasons.
Dayton, for his part, has helped the franchise escape the clutches of perennial 100-loss seasons, but the franchise now seems stuck in neutral, in 80 win territory, unable to contend at the next level. In seven full seasons, Dayton has led the team to one winning season, topping out at 86 wins. The "Best Farm System in the History of Whatever" is not bearing much fruit for the Royals, and while the Wil Myers/James Shields trade has been rather successful in the short-term, the gamble has not paid off into contender status like it needed to.
It was eight years ago that Dayton Moore infamously said:
On his timetable for bringing a winner to Kansas City: "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."
Odalis Perez, Brian Bannister, Joey Gathright, Ryan Shealy, Todd Wellemyer, Ross Gload, Tony Pena Jr., Jason LaRue, Joakim Soria, Gil Meche, Jorge de la Rosa, John Bale, Octavio Dotel, Miguel Olivo, Ron Mahay, Jose Guillen, Luke Hochevar, Robinson Tejeda, Yasuhiko Yabuta, Horacio Ramirez, Hideo Nomo, Alberto Callaspo, Brett Tomko, Sidney Ponson, Yuniesky Betancourt, Brayan Pena, Coco Crisp, Kyle Davies, Mike Jacobs, Juan Cruz, Roman Colon, Kyle Farnsworth, Anthony Lerew, Ryan Freel, Josh Anderson, Willie Bloomquist, Jason Kendall, Chris Getz, Scott Podsednik, Josh Fields, Rick Ankiel, Sean O'Sullivan, Blake Wood, Bryan Bullington, Kanekoa Teixeira, Wilson Betimet, Phillip Humber, Gregor Blanco, Tim Collins, Bruce Chen, Jesse Chavez, Luis Mendoza, Greg Holland, Matt Treanor, Jarrod Dyson, Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Yamaico Navarro, Felipe Paulino, Danny Duffy, Jeff Francisc, Salvador Perez, Aaron Crow, Jeff Francoeur, Louis Coleman, Johnny Giavotella, Melky Cabrera, Nathan Adcock, Mike Moustakas, Vin Mazzarro, Jeremy Jeffress, Humberto Quintero, Lorenzo Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Will Smith, Jonathan Broxton, Jeremy Guthrie, Jose Mijares, Jake Odorizzi, David Lough, Emilio Bonifacio, Elliot Johnson, James Shields, Pedro Ciriaco, Ervin Santana, Jamey Carroll, Wade Davis, Justin Maxwell, J.C. Gutierrez, Francisley Bueno, Miguel Tejada, George Kottaras, Brett Hayes, Norichika Aoki, Danny Valencia, Yordano Ventura, Omar Infante, Jason Vargas, Michael Mariot, Aaron Brooks.
Eight years later, we are all still wondering what the plan was.