Fire Dayton Moore

Fire Dayton Moore
It's time.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Q&A with FDM

Due to the massive number of media requests we've had at, we thought it would streamline things to do a one-time Q&A with.....NOT.

Actually, in the event we actually gain a readership, something like this might help readers understand where we're coming from. So let's get this started.

Q: Why do you hate Dayton Moore?
S: I actually don't hate Dayton Moore. If or when he is fired or resigns, I won't be dancing in the streets. Only when the Royals are playing in the World Series will I be dancing on any form of roadway.

I've grown past the point of living and dying with the teams I follow. So understand this blog doesn't come from a mouth-breathing, fist-pounding place of rage. Rather, I look at this as a sort of challenge. I'm a former sports writer who is just starting to get into sabermetrics. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I have something worth writing about. I'm not delusional enough to think I could do a better job running the Royals than Moore.

And I have no delusions of grandeur that this blog will have anything to do with what happens to Moore in the future. He strapped his fate to James Shields' right arm. If Moore's latest trade results in a playoff run, he will probably stay in Kansas City as long as he likes. If it doesn't and Wil Myers turns into an All-Star, Moore's first GM job will be his last.

Q: Why was the Shields-Myers trade the "final straw" for your frustration with Moore?
S: As I've written before, the trade for Shields had the stench of a panic move by Moore. It felt like a shortsighted move with no more motivation than to save Moore's job. That wouldn't be quite as offensive if Royals fans hadn't been led to believe for years that the organization would build from within with youth and, realistically, compete from 2014-2018. That plan seemed to be on schedule and Moore suddenly scrapped it in hopes of winning in 2013 and 2014 with a roster that isn't ready.

I wanted to like this deal for the Royals after my initial shock subsided. But of all the analysts I read and listen to and respect, none of them have said this was a win for the Royals. The more I look at the numbers, the less I like the deal. My opinion doesn't mean much, but I do value the opinions of analysts such as Keith Law, Jonah Keri and Rany Jazayerli and what they've said isn't positive.

Q: What's wrong with the Royals trying to win now?
S: If the Royals actually were going to commit to winning right now, I'd be all for it. But if this is their idea of pushing their chips to the middle of the table, it's a half-hearted attempt. It's not enough. It's true, the window for competing in the American League Central is wide open. Behind an awkwardly build Detroit Tigers team, there isn't much competition.

However, despite how many players the Tigers have playing out of position, they still have Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, and Doug Fister. Shields might be no better than a No. 4 starter in that rotation. And the Tigers still have Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabreara plus a now-healthy Victor Martinez and underrated (and all-around good guy) Torii Hunter entering the mix in 2013. The Royals have Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, corner infielders who have underperformed to this point in their young careers, a promising catcher and shortstop, a question mark in center field, a hole at second base, and a conundrum in right field. If the Royals truly are "all-in," this can't be their last move. Without Shields, the Royals probably win at least 75 games. With Shields, they might win 80. If they don't win the Central, they're not sneaking into a Wild Card spot because I don't see a .500 team here.

Q: Isn't there something to be said for Moore trying to get fans to show up to Kauffman Stadium in 2013?
S: Someone with even more time on their hands than me once looked up the difference in attendance for Texas Rangers games when Nolan Ryan pitched. What did he find? No noticeable difference whatsoever. If the Ryan Express didn't put butts in seats, James Shields sure isn't. I doubt Myers wouldn't have either, but then again Royals fans did pack Kauffman to see him play in the Futures Game.

Q: If the Royals do make the playoffs next season, will it change your opinion?
S: To be content with a playoff appearance and nothing more is such a defeatist mentality to me. I want to see a team that can compete for a World Series. If the Royals were to somehow reach the playoffs only to get swept by a superior AL East or West team in the ALDS, it would mean less than nothing to me. But to watch a team comprised of players that came up through the system compete for a pennant would mean a great deal to me.

Of course, prospects are prospects and projecting how they'll turn out is like predicting which puppy in a litter might compete for Best in Show. Nonetheless, I believe what Moore was originally building had a better chance at sustained success that what he's working with now.

Q: So you're that sold on Myers that you wouldn't have parted with him for anything?
S: Actually, on the contrary. This may shock you, but I play fantasy baseball in a nerdy dynasty league that includes prospects and I've worked my way to the top of the league by trading prospects for stud hitters and ace pitchers. I didn't use them to trade for above-average pitchers like Shields.

By all means, I would have shipped Myers off with Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, Patrick Leonard and any other prospect if it meant I was getting a proven, can't-miss hitter or pitcher — or at the very least an equally young and promising arm like Matt Moore, who also pitches for the Rays. Dayton Moore didn't come close to doing that and now his most alluring asset is spent.

I think a better deal could have developed if he'd been more patient. What was the rush to deal your biggest trade chip in December? The trade Moore went with would have been waiting for him in June if nothing better came along first. And if Moore truly exhausted all other possibilities, I wouldn't be nearly as critical, but I don't think he could have based on how quickly he made the move.

Q: If you think Shields is so bad, what alternatives would you have pursued instead?
S: That's a loaded question because it's hard to know who else is available in the trade market, but I'll do my best.

Zack Greinke (6-years, $147 million, Dodgers) — Yeah, I said it (and smarter men than me said it before). If you're really all-in, why not go after the best pitcher on the market who has already played for you?
Trevor Bauer (traded to Indians) — The Diamondbacks gave Bauer (a potential ace) up for a glove-first shortstop and little else. I have to think the Royals could have offered Christian Colon and another prospect for Bauer. Heck, I'd have been ecstatic for a Myers and Colon for Bauer and Adam Eaton swap.
Matt Garza (still with the Cubs) — Trade rumors swirled regarding Garza last July and there's no reason he should be untouchable a few months later. He's had a similar career arc to Shields outside of last season, but because of a down 2012, his price tag would conceivably be smaller and he's two years younger.
Anibal Sanchez (5-years, $80 million, Tigers) — Not only would it have added to the Royals' rotation, but it would have taken away from the Tigers'.
Tommy Hanson (traded to Angels) — Of all the former Braves that Moore could have passed on, he passed on a 26-year-old who is still arbitration-eligible. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a big believer in Hanson, but all it cost the Angels was a reliever. I'd have gladly given up Greg Holland for the chance to get Hanson's career back on track.
Edwin Jackson (free agent) — My guess is he'll cost around $13 million per year, but he's still 29 and he's been solid the last four years, so if the Royals' window is now, this would be the kind of pitcher to give serious consideration to.
Scott Feldman (1-year, $6 million, Cubs) — To Moore's credit, he did make a run at Feldman but only offered $4.5 million. How you can throw $25 million at Jeremy Guthrie, but cringe over $1.5 when it comes to Feldman, I don't know.
Ricky Nolasco (Miami Marlins) — Clearly nothing is nailed down in Miami and he's the best pitcher left on the roster. The Marlins apparently want a power bat like Mark Trumbo, but seeing how they obviously don't plan on winning any time soon, I'm not sure why a couple decent prospects wouldn't land Nolasco.
Kyle Lohse (free agent) — Because he's a Scott Boras client, he's going to be pricey, even though he's a No. 3 starter trying to pass himself off as an ace. Again, I wouldn't add him to carry a rotation, but he's the kind of arm you add if you're trying to win now.
Hiroki Kuroda (1-year, $15 million, Yankees) — He was obviously too pricey for the Royals, but if you're serious about winning, he's the perfect kind of pitcher to fill out your rotation with.
Dan Haren (1-year, $13 million, Nationals) — Haren has health concerns for sure, but there's no such thing as a bad one-year deal, so it would have been worth the gamble to see if he could find his former form.
Vance Worley (traded to Twins), Jason Vargas (traded to Angels), John Lannan (1-year, $2.5 million, Phillies) — These names are at the bottom of the list for a reason. But if the top two spots are strong enough, you can get away with pitchers like these.
James Shields (traded to Royals) — It's not that I'm against Shields, just don't give up so much for him or get more in return to go with him than Wade Davis.

Q: You're forgetting how much Moore has done to get the Royals to this point. Don't you remember how bad it was under Allard Baird?
S: Actually, I'm not forgetting and I do remember what the Royals were like when Moore took over after Baird.

Moore deserves and immense amount of credit for what he's done with the farm system. The Royals haven't gained recognition for the strength of their farm system the last two years by accident.

However, one cause for this effect has been improved funding by ownership. Baird couldn't always spend money on draft picks like Moore has been able to. Moore has vastly improved the Royals' international scouting because he has the money to spend in that area

But when it comes to moves at the Major League level, Moore has appeared overmatched. He committed long-term to Jeff Francoeur (even three years is an eternity for a player like Francoeur). He traded Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez, who was either injured last year or just epically ineffective  (either way, it doesn't speak highly to Moore's due diligence). He traded David DeJesus for Vin Mazzaro. He traded for Yuniesky Betancourt, traded him away, then re-signed him. He signed Jeff Francis. He let Kyle Davis pitch 99 games for the Royals. He signed Jason Kendall and Jose Guillen. He signed Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel. He traded for Mike Jacobs. He traded for Joey Gathright. And so on and so on.

It's not a good sign when inking Bruce Chen is a highlight on your resumé.

Finally, he waited until after the 2006 MLB draft to assume his role as GM of the Royals so as not to interfere with the draft. This was the draft the Royals selected Luke Hochevar No. 1 overall, passing on players such as Evan Longoria, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Brandon Morrow and Max Scherzer. I know that in reality a GM doesn't do much during the draft after the first few rounds. However, if I was taking over a new team with the No. 1 overall pick, you better believe I'd have a say in who my team selected with that pick. His tenure with the Royals has thus far been defined by a pitcher he could have prevented drafting.

Q: Don't you think you're being too hard on Moore considering how the economics of baseball hinder small-market teams?
S: I don't like how baseball economics are structured, but I'll never use it as an excuse. Other small-market teams have won before and others will win in the future. It can be done. I just don't think Moore can do it.

Q: So who do you think would do a better job than Moore? 
S: I'm not going to pretend I know who the hot up-and-coming GM prospects are. What I do know is there are plenty of teams building winning teams by balancing development with shrewd big league moves and I have no doubt there are smart people involved in those organizations who would jump at the chance to fill a GM role, even if it's in Kansas City.

Well, I'd say that does it for our first ever Q&A. That was probably overly detailed, but hopefully it explained a lot. Sadly, the world is going to end in two days and all of that typing will have been for nothing.

Fire Dayton Moore

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