I'm going to skip the obvious and get to the point. Because even your dog could figure out that this year for the Royals has been nothing short of a sick joke. And this year is the culmination of years of mistakes and missteps from our general manager Dayton Moore. Listing them out one by one, and describing all of them would probably take up too much time, so I'm just going to sort it out into a couple of categories. Remember, there is not just one reason to fire a GM in sports, rather there is a litany of them.
Reminder: The number one reason in all of sports that general managers get fired is for bad drafting!
If a team can't draft, then all else cannot follow. And Dayton has whiffed on almost every draft in his entire tenure in the first round, where a team is supposed to get their perennial franchise players. Luke Hochaver can be considered a bust, since he was expected to be a perennial Cy Young contender being first overall, but is just a relief arm now. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are the only first round successes he has in the first round that have lasted. Aaron Crow fizzled out. And depending on how you view Hunter Dozier, the Royals have been had busts in the first round in 5 out of 6 of the drafts from 2010 to 2015. Christian Colon (4th overall) will likely be a career bench player if he even gets major league playing time at all. Bubba Starling (5th overall) has been saddled with injuries and under-performance. He really should have been major league ready about 3 to 5 years ago, but he's still in the minors. And at the ripe age of 25. Kyle Zimmer (5th overall) will likely never make it to the major leagues with an arm made out of glass. Hunter Dozier (8th overall) is on the wrong side of 25, and is struggling to make an offensive impact. Ashe Russell (21st overall, but still a first round pick) simply quit. We don't know if he's ever going to play baseball again, which can be considered as a bust. There's no telling what will happen with Nick Pratto or Brady Singer yet, but however they do, their performances, good or bad, cannot save Dayton from his reputation as poor at drafting. And that's not even covering the other busts that the Royals have had that have collectively torpedoed the farm system. As a result of all this poor drafting, we are stuck with a revolving door in center field and DH, with Paulo Orlando and Cheslor Cuthbert trying, and failing, to fill up important roles in our offense.
But what about international free agents?
In the end, this cannot bail out a team from being poor at drafting. Even in baseball. The draft is the cheapest, most secure way to get players that will carry your franchise. The teams that lose perennially do so because they cannot draft. In baseball, you have to be good at both drafting and signing international free agents to build a farm system.
But what about Lonnie Goldberg?
His responsibility is to work with scouts that provide information about potential prospects, which is an important part of drafting. But ultimately, the drafting part comes down to the general manager. It is he who assembles the scouting department in the first place, and who ultimately pulls the trigger on who they want to draft. Even if Lonnie Goldberg is doing a poor job at drafting, he is not an excuse for Dayton's performance.
Poor with Free Agents
A team that depends on the draft will succeed, but will probably not succeed enough. That's why free agents are a very important part of building a team that knows how to win games. And Dayton has had a less than desirable track record in his entire tenure as Royals GM. Jose Guillen, Gil Meche, Omar Infante, and Yuniesky Betancourt all come to mind. But things have been getting even worse with the free agent signings. Signing Abraham Almonte, Alcides Escobar, and Drew Butera have not only blocked the path to the majors for important prospects in the minors, which were few to begin with, but have also constructed an offense that couldn't hit a wall if they ran into one. But I will always despise the contract the Royals gave Ian Kennedy. I liked the idea of signing him to a contract with the Royals back in 2016. What I didn't like were the terms that we signed him to. And now the consequences have come back to bite. He has given up about 1.7 home runs per 9 innings since 2015, which is bad enough. His H/9 rate has been increasing steadily since 2015. In addition, his fastball velocity has been declining, which means his home run troubles are likely going to get even worse. Fans have booed him twice in his entire tenure with the Royals out of frustration. And most of all, his bloated contract has financially handcuffed the Royals. I viewed Ian Kennedy as a low price, low risk pitcher that we could sign to a one year deal and see where he takes it from there, not as a part of our rotation for the next 5 years. And I think it's safe to say that he'll never live up to his contract.
Don't you have to take risks to be successful? Hindsight is always 20/20 after all.
Yes, you have to take risks in order. But you don't want to make moves that have little to no upside. The Ian Kennedy contract had much to great of a risk from the start, and was a risk that should not have been taken to such a degree in the first place. In addition, there is advanced metrics that you can use to minimize risks like these, but Dayton has chosen to dismiss them entirely, and has throughout his entire career as GM, an extremely foolish move to make as a small market team.
Poor at Trading
This is a more recent issue, considering that the trade with Milwaukee that involved Zack Greinke went without a hitch, but it is still worth mentioning. Even though trading has overall been a strong suit for Dayton, he appears to have lost his mojo in the past few years. The past few major trades he has made have been either questionable, or downright stupid. It may have started in trading away Wade Davis for Jorge Soler, who has a left leg made of glass, and has overall failed to make an offensive impact. I really believe Albert Almora Jr. or Ian Happ would have made a lot more sense, considering this was before major league teams decided to stop giving away top prospects for rentals. But the previous off-season is what will probably do him in. Ryan Buchter, a young, controllable reliever, who actually could post results, was traded away with Brandon Moss, only because Oakland-- or any competently managed team-- wouldn't take the bait without Buchter as part of the deal. Where is Brandon Moss now? Spoiler alert: it's not with Oakland! He was designated for assignment. In other words, Brandon Moss should have just been designated for assignment in the first place, so we can keep Ryan Buchter. You can even argue that trading away Scott Alexander wasn't too bright of a move, considering he had years of control left on his contract, something you want in a rebuilding phase.
What about Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto? Are you saying we shouldn't have traded for them?
Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto were integral parts of the 2015 World Series run. As much as I would love to have Sean Manaea and Brandon Finnegan right now, they were necessary prices to pay for the World Series. The problem is that the Royals could not replenish the farm system enough to make up for these trades.
Dayton has also shown inability to draft or develop starting pitchers, which has left the rotation in shambles. In 12 years as a GM, he only has Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura, and Mike Montgomery as presentable starting pitchers that he has ever developed. No Royals starting pitcher that Dayton has drafted/developed has won the Cy Young Award, or even placed in the top 10 for the award in his tenure as GM. Joakim Soria, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland were bullpen arms, so they do not count. James Shields was drafted by Tampa Bay, not the Royals, so he doesn't count. Zack Greinke was drafted in 2002 by Allard Baird, so he doesn't count. So the Royals have been forced to rely on free agent signings and trades in order to maintain a starting rotation, some of which worked out, like Edinson Volquez and Ervin Santana. But if you want starting pitchers for a low price, they either have to be drafted or signed as international free agents. Dayton has failed to do so, leaving the Royals rotation in shambles as of now.
I also believe that the Luke Heimlich scandal is also grounds for termination. This reveals some very poor moral characteristics of Dayton. He is willing to make a national scandal out of the Royals by signing a convicted child molester in an America that values the safety of children extremely highly. To sexually violate a child is unforgivable, and to even consider bringing such a scandal to the Royals is inexcusable. And when you make moves like this as a GM, owners will gunny sack this as a reason to terminate you. When John Dorsey was fired from the Chiefs in 2017, the scandal involving Tyreek Hill may have been part of the equation in his termination, along with a lack of success in the playoffs. If Dayton Moore is fired, I have little doubt that the scandal with Luke Heimlich will be part of the equation.