I used to be able to depend on Dayton Moore.
His year end press conferences were red meat for the blog. Not anymore. The delusion and defiance of the past have been replaced with a pragmatism that underscores the Royals development as a franchise under Moore and his team. The Process worked. While the last two seasons may have fallen short of expectations within the front office and the fan base, their recent successes have rightfully changed the tenor of these year-end gatherings.
For this year’s edition, there was very little reflection. There really didn’t need to be much, if any at all. We all saw what happened. The shortcomings were obvious. The offense struggled out of the gate. The pitching was good. For a couple of months, things clicked. Then the offense kind of plateaued while the pitching went off the rails. And the newcomers at the trade deadline did little to right the situation. As Moore says, there are no guarantees. To him, the constants are pitching, defense and putting together a cogent plan to get the final nine outs from your bullpen.
Wednesday’s gathering was more about looking forward. The future.
Regarding his own future, Moore had the opportunity to unequivocally state he wasn’t interested in the Atlanta job or in leaving Kansas City, but he passed. Moore has been in his position and the game for a long time. He knows the dance. He knows what to say. His non-answer won’t satisfy fans who want him to stay and build another winner. Nor does it close the door to other opportunities. It’s a line in-demand executives have to walk on a constant basis.
This isn’t going to be settled until Atlanta has a new front office in place. Moore will continue to have to deflect questions about his own future while there are plenty of other questions swirling around the Royals about their future. Non-answers won’t close any doors, but as Moore himself said, the Braves haven’t inquired about his services. So at this point, doors don’t need to be closed. Besides, Moore says he adores working for David Glass and the Glass family. He can’t imagine a better opportunity than the one he has in Kansas City.
Indeed, this is the crux of the issue. Moore has nearly everything he needs at his disposal. And his recent track record of success most likely brought him even more goodwill from ownership. Moore values loyalty and that is on display every time he talks about the Glass family. Although Moore has roots in Atlanta, he’s been in Kansas City long enough that the roots have been transplanted. He has history in Atlanta, but he’s built something in Kansas City. There’s a difference.
As we’ve come to know Moore, we know there are several things he’s passionate about. His faith. His family. The people who work for the organization. Let’s add leadership to the list. Moore spend a large portion of his press conference discussing leadership and how it’s important to him, personally. Being a good leader. Building new leaders. Part of that will be on display in the next couple of weeks when he takes a group to the Martin Luther King Institute in Atlanta. Moore called Dr. King one of the great leaders of our time. The idea is for the organization to look beyond the insular world of baseball to expand their base of knowledge. Learning about good leaders is the foundation for becoming one.
This is Dayton Moore.
There is a world beyond baseball. Moore wants his people to be good at their jobs, but more importantly to him, they need to be well-rounded individuals. That’s what makes him a good leader. Or in baseball parlance, a plus-plus leader.
In baseball matters, Moore was asked about the difference between the rebuild the team undertook when he arrived compared to what will most likely happen over the next couple of months. Moore largely deflected, saying each situation is unique. Clint touched on this with his recap earlier Thursday, and it remains absolutely true: There is simply no comparison between 2006 and 2018. None. If anyone tells you the Royals are in a worse situation today than they were 12 years ago, walk away because they have no idea what they’re talking about. If someone were to ever do a serious deep dive into the history of the franchise, the end of the Allard Baird era was the absolute rock bottom. One of the reasons Moore is in Kansas City is because he asked for, and received, assurances that ownership would give him the means to build an organization and would stay out of his way.
In some ways, the situation in 2006 was worse than if the Royals had been an expansion franchise if only because they has a massive amount of broken processes to get out of the way. It probably would have been easier to start from scratch than to burn everything down and rebuild. It took longer than it should have, but the results are absolutely there. Trust The Process, baby.
Moore mentioned that the most challenging aspect of the upcoming winter will be the financial one. That’s no different from the past. However, instead of preaching that the Royals are living at the edge of their means, there was more talk about the market and waiting for it to develop. That’s an interesting statement for the GM to make considering for at least the early part of his tenure, he was fast out of the gate in the off season, making early moves to address needs. Moore has helped set the market in the past, which always struck me as a bit foolish, especially for a small market team like the Royals. This time, with lessons learned from the Alex Gordon free agency, it sounds like the Royals will let the market evolve to see how they can maximize their resources. This means they will stay involved with their core players throughout free agency.
Although Moore stressed the organization would consider each free agent on an individual basis and how a particular player would fit into the long term plans. That just makes an awful lot of sense. And it’s probably how they approach all free agents, not just their own players.
The press conference wrapped, but questions remain unanswered. This is a pivotal offseason for both Moore and his franchise. The way the questions are answered over the next several months will shape both for years to come.