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John Sherman made some interesting remarks about the front office

Things are a-changing? Maybe?

General manager Dayton Moore (L) and owner John Sherman of the Kansas City Royals watch a game against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium on May 18, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.
General manager Dayton Moore (L) and owner John Sherman of the Kansas City Royals watch a game against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium on May 18, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

In the English language, there are some phrases that mean the opposite of what you would think they mean on their face value. One such example is by saying, “No offense, but” and then going from there. You can generally assume that what follows will be offensive in some way, intentionally or not.

Another one of these phrases is “Not to throw anyone under the bus, but” and then proceeding to say something that, well, throws somebody under the bus. This is precisely why it was so interesting when John Sherman said a variation of that theme in a conversation with the Kansas City Star—specifically to columnists Sam McDowell and Vahe Gregorian, who did an excellent job in asking respectful yet pointed questions of the Royals’ owner.

The majority of the interview revolves around the whole downtown ballpark situation, but it is the discussion about the team itself that I think is most interesting. Emphasis mine:

Gregorian: So what do you need to do to move forward faster?

Sherman: This year certainly has taught me that we did exactly the thing we needed to do this year. It’s been painful. But I own it. This process and where we are is exactly what we should have done. I think we were fooling ourselves. … This isn’t throwing anybody under the bus. I think we did not come to grips with where we are and were fooling ourselves. And now, we kind of know where we are. Perhaps I wish it was something else. But I feel really, really good about our processes. I feel good about our leadership — you know, (general manager) J.J. (Picollo) and Q (manager Matt Quatraro).

Sherman has beat around the bush a little bit when it comes to addressing what, specifically, was wrong with the previous regime and what is going to be different moving forward. JJ Picollo has similarly implied what was wrong simply by not stating that their goal was to win the division, which former GM Dayton Moore consistently adhered to even when the club was losing 100 games.

I really don’t think Sherman was meaning to intentionally badmouth Moore, and the respect he showed Moore is professional. But this isn’t rocket science—Sherman didn’t have to point out Moore specifically for it to be clear who was at fault here. Plus, by using “we,” Sherman is including himself as part of why the Royals are where they are right now.

As they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem, and one of the biggest problems of the Moore administration was a persistent cluelessness about the team’s quality and where they stood in the rebuild. It hopefully speaks to a more honest internal evaluation process.

But that’s not all. McDowell directly asked Sherman about what was different. Again, Sherman’s answer was interesting, and again, emphasis mine:

McDowell: Related to that point, J.J. was part of the last regime here. Can you articulate that things are different under his leadership — or how it’s not just a continuation of the way things have been done in the past? Did that make a real change?

Sherman: No doubt. There’s no doubt that it’s different. And I’m not saying that we don’t need to continue to change and do things differently. But the processes are different — not just up here but the beginning stages throughout the system, particularly on the pitching side...

...But really, let’s think about the trade deadline. We all talk about the results and what happened. But I went down to that room a few times leading up to the deadline. I joke with those guys that I don’t go there too much, because I want to leave it to the experts. But I’m very interested in that process.

And I would just tell you that there were some deals on the board that would have hurt in the short term and in a very significant way, and that group was willing to do it. So I was very impressed by the willingness to take that risk. It was very dynamic, right? There were deals on the board we were willing to do if we got the haul. But as that started to get diluted, because counterparties wanted to take this player maybe somewhere else, I was equally impressed that our guys didn’t chase those and they walked away from those deals.

Picollo talked previously about how the Royals had deals in progress that they didn’t quite complete before the deadline came and went. But, again, this type of willingness to actually trade players with multiple years of control is new for Royals fans.

These aren’t really groundbreaking news items. And, when it comes down to it, nothing Sherman says will really mean much if the Royals keep on finding ways to lose a bunch of baseball game—which, under his ownership, has been the only thing the team has been consistently good at doing.

Still, it’s not everyday you hear the owner of a team talk so frankly about the state of the team.