Home > Kansas City Royals, MLB > The Royals can be Rebuilt, but is Dayton Moore the right man to lead them?

The Royals can be Rebuilt, but is Dayton Moore the right man to lead them?

flickr.com/c h e e s e roc

flickr.com/c h e e s e roc

As bad as the Kansas City Royals have been this season, it could be argued that while everything they needed to go well for them to compete turned out upside down, a few things that would make them feel good about the future turned out alright.  The way Billy Butler and Alberto Callaspo have hit this year is a major positive, and what can you say about Zack Greinke?  The Royals might have the most valuable player in baseball (not to be confused with the Most Valuable Player, the award).

Given the starting pitching and young talent, the Royals are at a point where most organizations would be like, “hey, lets give this a shot next year!”  Well, the Royals are coming off of that mentality right now (100 losses remember), they have to get it together just to avoid a 100 loss season, and while this isn’t the 2008 Mariners in payroll exactly, they sure do look a lot like that team roster-wise.  They increased their payroll by nearly $15 million to about $70 million next offseason.  Tim Dierkes has his Royals’ salary breakdown of the Royals at MLB Trade Rumors.

The Royals don’t really need to be spending more than $70 million dollars to make this team competitive, but for one year at least, they’ll have to do some creative cutting just to hold payroll steady.  It’s not ideal, but after the mess that team leadership created, it’s not a terrible situation either.

You may have heard by now that the Royals extended their General Manager, Dayton Moore, through 2014.  The deal, by and large, was not deserved, but whether it made sense is a much broader question.  We need to get right down to the question at the heart of the matter: is Dayton Moore the right man to lead the Royals into the next decade?

flickr.com/inabeanpod

flickr.com/inabeanpod

The worst possible way to answer that question is to look at past moves and weigh the good ones against the bad ones.  No one doubts that the Yuniesky Betancourt deal is going to hurt the Royals into the middle of the 2010 season, or that Gil Meche was for the most part a good use of $55 million dollars that the team had lying around.  If a pitching rotation is the hardest part of a team to build–and it probably is–then Moore has built a strong foundation for a good team.  But if he’s just going to spend the next two offseasons trading some of his pitching depth surplus for mid-level players who (not necessarily in the case linked) can’t really offer much upside, then the balance of Zack Greinke’s contract extension will be spent on a non-contender.

If the shrewd Greinke extension bought Moore some time, the Royals can’t be so naive as to think that Moore has also earned the right to waste that time.  With the money spent on the draft in the past two seasons, the Royals should be plenty able to improve the on-field product and the farm system at the same time, and immediately.  No one expects them to win 90 games next year, but getting back to the 75 win “high-water” mark they reached last year seems like a no-brainer goal.  And, you know, the 2007 Mariners won 88 games, and they did it with Jose Guillen, Willie Bloomquist, and Yuniesky Betancourt none-the-less.  So don’t rule out the rebound, Royals fans.

Of course, neither Bill Bavasi nor Dayton Moore should be making a career out of trying to win games with weak players, which means that as the Royals turn to their farm system to plug a hole in right field and at catcher this offseason, it’s time to pull out all the stops.  The Royals need to find a trade partner for Mark Teahen, and ideally, Alberto Callaspo (though the latter has significantly more value and could help the Royals get back to 75 wins with his bat at a premium position), and then they need to add two outfielders, a second baseman, a bench player or two, and a catcher to compete with Brayan Pena.

All of those holes are position player-related, and that’s the side of the baseball that has given Dayton Moore and his administration fits to date.  Of less importance is the bullpen, which although completely useless to winning games this past season (an ERA of more than 5.00 team-wide), still has a lot of (expensive) talent under contract for 2010, and plenty of potential help there in AAA.  That’s going to have to be on the back-burner for 2010, just a year after an effective bullpen was torn apart and rebuilt around Joakim Soria, resulting in a nearly 2 run increase in team ERA.  So maybe moving it to the back-burner wasn’t such a bad plan.

The Royals, pure and simple, need to add position talent–with either defensive or offensive value–over the next two years through mostly internal means, and Dayton Moore has not shown he can be that guy.  Expensive extension aside, I do not see how the Royals can have full support behind their General Manager if a year from now, these problems are not closer to being fixed.  Team ownership should still have a critical eye to “the Process” as we judge the moves this team makes from this point forward.

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  1. September 7, 2009 at 10:30 pm

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