For most of this year, the Kansas City Royals have been, to put it diplomatically, stinky. They have danced around the ignominious title of “worst team in Major League baseball” with the Oakland Athletics for most of the year, which is bad enough except for the fact that the Athletics’ owner is actively trying to put a bad team out there in an attempt to move the franchise to Las Vegas. A Royals hot streak has probably made that title Oakland’s to lose.
Over a broader period of time, the Kansas City Royals have been, to put it diplomatically, stinky. They have danced around the even more ignominious title of “worst team in Major League baseball since 2018” with the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers. Unfortunately, the Royals’ 102-loss-and-counting showing this year has secured them this title—no other big league team has been worse than Kansas City over that period of time. Fun!
These results have been bad enough to get Dayton Moore fired. But they have not been bad enough to get anybody else fired. A little less than a month ago, I wrote that the Royals’ front office still needed shaking up. Why? Simple: this is a results-oriented business, the results have been bad, and essentially the entire senior brain trust has been in positions of power for at least a decade. Furthermore, the Royals declined to bring on new front office talent into the organization last year, which was a missed opportunity.
Fortunately, the Royals had a new opportunity recently. Chris Getz, the new Chicago White Sox general manager, selected Royals’ assistant GM Gene Watson to be his scouting director. This opened up a spot in the front office, and to Kansas City’s credit they went outside the organization to pick up Brian Bridges as their new scouting director. Bridges had presided over multiple fruitful Atlanta Braves drafts and is very well respected in the industry. It’s a good pick.
This, of course, perhaps implied that some changes were afoot in the Royals scouting room. But Anne Rogers poured a bucket of cold water that idea: current scouting director Danny Ontiveros and VP of player personnel Lonnie Goldberg are keeping their jobs. In fact, Ontiveros will get a promotion out of the deal, a year after Goldberg got a promotion of his own:
Danny Ontiveros and Lonnie Goldberg are remaining in the organization, per source. Ontiveros has been promoted to vice president of scouting. He will continue to help with the draft. https://t.co/l90XgXpmcZ— Anne Rogers (@anne__rogers) September 20, 2023
Look: I am pleased the Royals thought to look elsewhere to acquire sought-after front office talent. And I have no vendetta against either Ontiveros or Goldberg—no grudges, nothing personal.
However, I must admit that I am envious of the apparent job security that Royals front office executives enjoy. As I said earlier, professional sports are a results-driven business, and it is literally impossible to be in a worse position than the Royals are right now. They have been the worst team in baseball since 2018, can still end up as the worst team in baseball this year, are likely to set the franchise record for losses in a season, and have one of the worst farm systems in baseball.
What is frustrating about the JJ Picollo administration is that the Royals are making progress but also seem intent on making many of the same mistakes that they did under the Moore administration, such as extreme loyalty to the detriment of the club. Because if Ontiveros deserves his promotion and Goldberg deserved his own recent promotion, it is in direct opposition to the track record of their results. If you can keep your job and get promoted no matter the business results that you directly impact? Seems like a sweet gig.