In 2015, Dayton Moore reached the absolute pinnacle of his profession. After being mocked for taking a position to lead the Royals in 2006, and after many (including many on this site) called for him to be fired numerous times, Moore had the last laugh with a championship ballclub and perhaps the most amazing stretch of seasons in Royals history.
The two years since their championship season have been a true test of Dayton Moore’s leadership. On the field, he has had to deal with departing free agents, re-stocking the farm system, balancing the payroll with the financial limits the Glass family allows. The result has been fairly mixed. The off-season moves have been largely a disaster, and even his recent in-season trade with the Padres has blown up in his face. The club finished at .500 last year, running out of steam in the last six weeks. As we head into the final four weeks of the season, the Royals are again sitting around .500, on the periphery of contention.
Off the field, Moore has had to deal with more serious subjects - a DUI for one of the club’s more popular players, and of course, the tragic death of young pitcher Yordano Ventura. He has been praised for his steady hand in dealing with these challenges, most recently by Kansas City Star columnist, Vahe Gregorian.
It was a scene remarkable for Moore’s candor and insight and sheer humanity when most leaders would tend to be invisible or mechanical.
Over and over, Moore said the Royals love Duffy and will support him....
In the process, Moore demonstrated once again what makes him special and so much more than what his title says.
So maybe it is time to give Dayton Moore a better title - Club President.
With the stumbles since the championship, there have been some rumblings among fans that Dayton Moore needs to be replaced. But this is ridiculous, bringing the Royals from baseball Siberia to mere contention should be enough for him to be canonized in Kansas City. There are only nine men actively working in baseball front offices who have led a team to a championship, Dayton Moore is one of them. You don’t fire a man with that kind of résumé.
But there is little doubt that Moore has lost a little bit on his fastball. This is not unusual. Billy Beane, considered one of the great innovative executives in the game has had very mixed results since the release of the book Moneyball, with the last three seasons looking disastrous. In an ever-increasingly complex business, it is very difficult to be completely on top of all aspects of baseball.
Which is why the Royals should consider promoting Dayton Moore to Club President. This is a very common arrangement in baseball now. Beane, Theo Epstein, Kenny Williams, Brian Sabean, John Mozeliak all won championships as General Managers, and have all been given promotions since then. It has been seen as a way of elevating the GM to an “emeritus” position, as a reward for his fine work.
Dayton Moore currently serves as “Senior Vice President - Baseball Operations.” Under a new arrangement where he serves as Club President, Moore would still be in charge of baseball operations, providing the same, steady leadership and the guiding force that has changed the organizational philosophy. He would still have final say in player personnel decisions. In fact, in many ways, he would still be serving many of the same function as General Manager. So what good does a promotion serve?
It keeps Dayton Moore on the big picture, while allowing others to work out the details
This may not be a huge departure of how things operate now, but as Club President, Dayton Moore could take a more “big picture” approach, continuing to set the organizational philosophy and guidelines he used to bring the Royals from the abyss. The details could be delegated more to his vice presidents, each of which could bring their own unique skills. As Alex Reimer writes in Forbes, “teams with multiple GMs at their disposal can divide up responsibilities that fit each executive's strength.”
Dayton Moore has excelled at the “big trades.” The Zack Greinke deal was franchise-changing, and one of the best prospect hauls of the last decade. The James Shields trade was a huge gamble that ended up resulting in a pennant, and ultimately a championship with secondary piece Wade Davis getting the final out.
But the remainder of the deals are a pretty mixed bag. The Royals have found few “diamonds in the rough.” The recent trades for Nate Karns and Jorge Soler have been disasters that may very well have cost the Royals a playoff spot this year. The recent free agent signings have been equally bad, and overall, Dayton Moore has overspent on dollars per WAR for his free agents in Kansas City. The Royals’ future has been hobbled by poor drafts in recent years. While that falls largely to scouting director Lonnie Goldberg, a restructure of the front office could allow for a re-evaluation of the department. A new General Manager could give the Royals a fresh set of eyes to work on trades, free agent signings, and drafts under the supervision and guidance of Moore.
It keeps Dayton Moore in Kansas City
Dayton Moore is currently under contract through the 2018 season, with much speculation as to what he will do beyond that. He has reportedly already turned down multiple opportunities elsewhere, but with the club on the verge of a rebuild and an uncertain future, he could begin to look elsewhere.
A title bump (and a commensurate pay bump) could help keep Dayton Moore in Kansas City. Offering an ownership stake is even a possibility, as the Athletics did with Billy Beane. Perhaps Dayton Moore is not the kind of person who cares about titles or salary. Even still, such a restructuring could send the message to him that this is his team to run. No other team can exceed that offer with a higher position. And it sends a message to Dayton that he is valued, he is the face of the franchise right now. It is hard to leave an organization that has made you the grand poobah.
It keeps J.J. Picollo in the organization
Sam Mellinger recently addressed those fans wanting to get rid of Dayton Moore as GM, and who would, hypothetically, replace him.
It’s going to have to be someone who can build a scouting staff good enough to create a top-shelf farm system, and then make the right decisions on that talent in terms of trades and long-term contract extensions.
It’s going to have to be someone coaches respect and appreciate, to stick around. It’s going to have to be someone the players respect and appreciate, to want to give their best to the organization and team.
It’s going to have to be someone, in other words, exactly like Dayton.
What better replacement could the Royals find, than J.J. Picollo? In the past few years, Picollo has interviewed for GM jobs in Houston, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. With Dayton Moore still young, and unlikely to ever be fired, Picollo will likely have to look elsewhere if he ever wants to become a Major League General Manager.
But if Dayton Moore gets a promotion to Club President, Picollo can ascend to General Manager and the Royals keep him in the fold. Additionally, this has a snowball effect, with others below Picollo also getting title bumps, keeping them from pursuing jobs elsewhere. This also possibly opens up positions as well, in case the Royals want to poach talent from other organizations.
There is, at least, one stumbling block to the idea of promoting Dayton Moore to Club President. The Royals already have a Club President by the name of Dan Glass. If you were wondering, yes, he is related to the owner of the ballclub, David Glass.
Dan Glass largely stays out of the headlines, so it is unclear what exactly his role is. Dayton Moore mentions him a few times in his book More Than a Season, but mostly as a tandem, “David Glass and his son, Dan.” It seems most likely that Dan is a conduit between the organization and his father, so it seems perfectly reasonable to give him a title like “Chief Executive Officer” while giving Dayton Moore “Club President of Baseball Operations”, much like the Red Sox do with Dave Dombrowski.
Now this is just basement blogger guy telling a multi-million dollar organization how to restructure a front office that the public knows very little about, so take this all with a grain of salt. And yes, it seems that this is all just rearranging signs on doors without any substantive changes. But it seems like the Royals have a unique problem. They have a General Manager who is an excellent leader - everyone in the organization seems to agree on how great it is to work under Dayton Moore. But that leader may be faltering a bit in some of his personnel decision-making.
Promoting Dayton Moore appears to solve both of those issues by keeping Dayton in-house doing what he does best, while delegating more on-field decision-making to a fresh set of eyes. There is the potential of having “too many cooks in the kitchen”, but this arrangement has been adopted by nearly half of all baseball teams, and it would still be Dayton Moore in charge with ultimate final say on decisions.
Dayton Moore has been with the Royals for over a decade now, and should be rewarded for his service. But winning a championship does not make him infallible, and we need to give him the resources he needs to lead the Royals to the next great championship club. Perhaps this restructuring is the kind of move the Royals need to make to shore up their uncertain future and ensure the organization does not slide back into the morass it was in when Dayton first came to town.