Dayton Moore has joined Ed Wade on the Internet snark train. Like with Wade, Moore doesn’t deserve the treatment. The Kansas City Royals have been buried in the basemen for the better part of two decades, but that can’t all be placed at his feet. His predecessor (Allard Baird) was held in even lower esteem, if that is possible. Suddenly, after he was gone, the extent that ownership went to derail some of his efforts (wittingly or unwittingly) came to the forefront.
Moore’s reputation appears to be on the rise. Baseball America rates the Royals farm system as the best in baseball. In point of fact, a quick look at their top 100 prospects shows that the Royals have more than their fair share in the list. Most of those prospects are at the top of the list. So, while some of his deals have come into question, they have done a brilliant job drafting.
Team Payroll: 36.1 million (30th)
Composite Ranking: 21.7
Analysis Score: +8.3
To the sabermetrics experts on the Internet, it would seem like Ed Wade and Dayton Moore were separated at birth. They both do a credible of building a farm system, but their moves at the big league level have caused some serious sarcasm to be unleashed on the Internet. The Royals lineup is a perfect dichotomy between these two worlds.
Several young players have made their debuts in recent seasons and appear to be a part of the future. Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon are all Dayton Moore draftees that appear to be solid parts of the new core. Yet, the rest of the lineup was built through trades and free agent signings.
Jason Kendall was supposed to be the catcher this season and losing him might have been an improvement. Alcides Escobar came in the Zack Greinke deal, and even though he is a much better defender than Yuniesky Betancourt was, his offense leaves some to be desired. However, the signings of Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur caused the biggest stirs.
This is where analysis and performance sometimes separate. Both have had the best all-around seasons of their careers. There was absolutely nothing in the analysis to indicate that they would play well. Normally, a GM would thank his lucky stars and return to the roulette table for another spin. Moore signed Francouer to a two-year extension. If you listen closely, you can hear the laughter.
The good news is that the Royals shed a ton of payroll in their rotation over the past several years. Both Gil Meche and Zack Greinke are gone. They have been replaced by a collection of young pitchers and older pitchers that failed in several other destinations. Leading the way is Bruce Chen. Chen came up with the Braves, but that seems like a generation ago. He’s played for seemingly half of the league since, but he finally found a home in Kansas City.
Luke Hochevar is another young gun that is plying his craft right now. He has had mixed results this year, but he is learning on the job. The best move was probably the decision to bring Felipe Paulino in during the season. He has a 4.10 ERA in Kansas City and finally seems to be realizing the promise the Houston Astros thought he had when they brought him up a couple of years ago.
Still, Moore has made some shaky decisions here. He signed Jeff Francis to a contract and Francis has rewarded him by going 5-16 with a 4.88 ERA. However, Kyle Davies was the biggest disaster this season. He busted out a 6.75 ERA and a 1-9 record before he was mercifully cut. Overall, the starting pitching is the biggest hole on this team by far.
Joakim Soria has been rock solid as a closer for half a decade, but he was removed from the role for the first couple of months after a horrific start. He has been the old Soria since then. Seeing him remain with the team at the deadline was one of the biggest surprises of the deadline. Simply put, a last-place team doesn’t need a top-flight closer. If that closer can bring in a few good prospects and save the team some money, it is well worth it.
Six relievers have 40 or more games pitched this season, and all of them have ERAs under 4.00 except for Soria. Something tells me they will be okay in 2012 without Soria. If they could sneak a productive starter or two for him, they would likely be in much better shape.
Response to Crisis
Teams like the Royals live in crisis. When you can’t afford stud players, you have to roll the dice constantly. I commend Dayton Moore for taking some flyers on guys. Felipe Paulino was the type of player he should be adding more of. I’m not a huge fan of either Francouer or Cabrera, but he didn’t break the bank to sign them. Overall, he has learned from the Jose Guillen and Gil Meche contracts.
It was disappointing to see so many veterans stay in Kansas City at the deadline. In particular, a deal involving Joakim Soria should have been made. The Royals are at the stage where they need as many young players as they can get their hands on.
Analysis Score: +8.3 (6th)
There is no way that Dayton Moore is a top 10 general manager. When you have the lowest payroll in baseball, you have to have a positive analysis score by definition. So, let’s avoid patting him on the back too quickly. However, we are seeing areas of growth with him and the organization as a whole. They have some really good young hitters that are coming of age.
Building a decent pitching staff to join that lineup is the next step. Based on his history, we have the right to question his ability to do that. Hopefully, some of the young pitchers they have drafted and signed will begin to come of age like the hitters. It is never a good thing for a team to lose for 20 years in a row.