It is August 14 and the Royals are in first place in the American League Central Division. While we can debate whether or not they really have the staying power to make their first post-season appearance since 1985, it cannot be denied that Dayton Moore has assembled a team that is contending late in the year for the second year in a row, and for the first time it seems they are serious contenders, at least thus far. In just a few weeks, Dayton Moore has gone from a General Manager in fear of losing his job, to a contender for Executive of the Year.
I think it is safe to say Royals Review has not been the biggest fan of Dayton Moore for some time. We all gave him a chance and I think we even welcomed his earliest moves. But once it became apparent he had little time for advanced statistics, and acquired players like Rick Ankiel, Mike Jacobs, and Yuniesky Betancourt, while sticking far too long with players like Kyle Davies and Tony Pena, Jr., it became clear his philosophy of building a team did not mesh with how many of us feel a General Manager should build a team. The James Shields trade, while successful in the short-term, was the nail in the coffin for a lot of people here.
While we mock "The Process", does the process matter? That is, if Dayton is successful doing things his way, and not a sabermetrically-inclined way, should we care? Brian Sabean of the San Francisco Giants and Ken Williams of the Chicago White Sox are two general managers never embraced by the advanced stats community, and the feeling is probably mutual. Yet each has a championship ring. You can argue Sabean lucked into Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey, or that Williams won his in a weak year with some luck or whatever, but the point is they won championships and had their teams competitive for several seasons.
The fear that many of us have from this season is that the team is learning the wrong lessons from its success and the winning will be short-lived. The fear is the Royals believe their success is due to clutch hitting, batting average with runners in scoring position, and pitching fueled by the BABIP fairy. Most fans want a sustainable win-cycle, a perennial contender, multiple rings. We know that if you only get one crack at a championship, you'll probably fail, so you need many bites at the apple. The Royals that were so dominant in the 70s and 80s went to seven post-seasons in ten seasons, and it wasn't til their last trip (with one of their weaker teams) that they finally won it all.
What do you think? Do results trump process? Do the means justify the ends? If Dayton does get this team to the post-season, does it change the way you feel about him?