Dayton Moore, General Manager of the Kansas City Royals, believes and expects the 2019 Royals team to win. Moreso, Moore publicly stated this to longtime Kansas City Star writer Vahe Gregorian on February 9, 2019, mere weeks before the full team kicks off Spring Training in Arizona:
“Major league players are paid to win baseball games,” Moore said in his office recently. “We’re going to expect this team to play well and win a lot of baseball games, so that hopefully in July there’s pressure on us as a front office to really improve the team for the final two months of the season.
“A lot of people say the Royals aren’t ready to take this step. But we’re not going to put limitations on this team. (Royals owner David Glass) says it all the time: Expectations drive results. Our expectations are to win our division.”
For the Royals, fresh off a 58-104 season that was the third-worst in franchise history and second-worst among all MLB teams in 2018, there is no conceivable way that such an expectation would come to blow in the front office’s face. None whatsoever.
The 2019 Royals will be manned by dozens of great players. These include both the established sort, like Danny Duffy, Salvador Perez, and Whit Merrifield; those veterans just bursting with potential, like Ian Kennedy, Brad Boxberger, and Wily Peralty; and household names, like Ben Lively, Chris Ellis, and Chris Owens.
Surely, for a front office who has guided the team to exactly one division crown in 13 seasons, expecting to win the division four years after the team embarked on its last winning season is a reasonable goal.
Like Moore said: “expectations drive results,” just like Kyle Zimmer’s expectations of success led to his 2015 Cy Young campaign, Bubba Starling’s rookie of the year season, and Mike Moustakas’ instant success in the big leagues from the moment he stepped to the plate for the first time. Clearly, there is absolutely nothing more to success in baseball, and indeed life, outside of picture-perfect visualization of your goal.
Indeed, why use the naughty word “rebuild” at all? It doesn’t carry any meaning about clear progress to a future goal, and it certainly isn’t something that teams have gone through in order to become playoff teams. After all, the front office didn’t rebuild anything when the regime change happened in 2006; that would suggest there was something there previously. Perhaps the plan is to scorch the Kauffman earth for so long that the “re” part of rebuild is gone and there’s just rubble to build from like the good ol’ days!
Finally, and most potently, the Royals’ quest to win the division is in no way hampered by the Royals’ approach to payroll and free agency. There aren’t any free agents available at all that could be of any help to the Royals should they actually be interested in winning the division. None like Mike Moustakas, a dependable Major League player who might be willing to take a discounted rate to play for a team with which he has an emotional connection. And absolutely none like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, both of whom could be had on creative deals and bring both eyeballs and wins to the team. It’s a shame, really.
When we’re watching baseball in October, we can look back and nod our heads that Moore was right and that, yes, the Royals’ expectation to win the division was totally founded on a realistic outlook and not one of blathering nonsense.