I have publicly declared my man crush for White Sox GM Ken Williams, but there is another baseball executive who I hold in even higher regard.
Orioles’ president of baseball operations, Andy MacPhail, built the Twins World Series winning teams in 1987 and 1991. He also built the Cubs team that would have reached the 2003 World Series were it not for the defensive lapse of SS-Alex S. Gonzalez in game 6 which followed the Steve Bartman Incident. He is now leading the rebirth of the Baltimore Orioles and despite the long odds of breaking through in the AL East, I have no doubt that he will eventually find success in his latest stop. In short, Andy MacPhail gets it.
While Royals fans are subjected to “trusting the process,” fans of other long downtrodden teams like the Pirates and Nationals are provided legitimate reason to hope, thanks to the actions of their GM and other management.
Royals fans watch Dayton Moore make moves counter to his statements regarding the value of OBP, defense, and pitching and make bizarre comments about his lack of understanding of statistics. Other GMs in the game let their actions speak louder than their words, or at the very least, their actions sync up with the words they throw out for public consumption. Other GMs make the moves to improve the team regardless of the reaction of the fan base or the media. Dayton Moore makes moves and immediately defends them before legitimate reactions can be formulated. The latest event along these lines was the recent demotion of Alex Gordon to Omaha, which prompted Kansas City Star writer Bob Dutton to post this. In the piece, Dayton Moore is quoted as saying:
I knew we’d be criticized for that before we did it. I can’t worry about that. But (the criticism) doesn’t make sense. If we operated that way, we wouldn’t have promoted Luke Hochevar when we did or promoted Kyle Davies when we did.
Funny thing happened along the way however. Royals fans understood, writers understood, and even the Royals blogosphere was largely in support of the move. The main criticism to the demotion of Gordon was not that he was demoted this week. It was that he should have been demoted back in 2007 when he was struggling. In my circle of friends and family, who range from die-hard to casual fans, support of Gordon’s demotion was universal and understood. There is no doubt, in my mind, that Alex Gordon’s development and professional career, after his 2006 season, has been mishandled by this organization. Now when they make the smart decision to try and revive the career of their franchise savior, they expect a negative reaction from the fans. I am once again perplexed and mystified by the mind of Dayton Moore.
In the August 10-23 issue of Baseball America, Roch Kubatko wrote an excellent story, Beltway clubs place pitching at the center of rebuilding strategy, about the Washingtion Nationals’ and Baltimore Orioles’ plans to become legitimately competitive teams through pitching. It was an interesting piece to say the least, but what really struck me were some of the quotes from Andy MacPhail:
Grow the arms and buy the bats
What a concept! Of course, Moore came to KC preaching “pitching is the currency in baseball” and then proceeded to draft Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer in 2007 and 2008. Whether Moose or Hos pan out, and I’d put good money on Moustakas, isn’t the issue and I am a fan of both of them. Then again I’m not the one who came to town preaching pitching, defense, and OBP. In Moore’s defense, when it comes to pitching, the low minors seem to have both quality and quantity. However, the fact remains he passed on the top pitching prospects in two consecutive drafts to go after HS bats. He did draft Aaron Crow this year, but I think that had more to do with the lack of positional talent and their draft position than following through on any particular philosophy. MacPhail, however, is full of more than just brilliant one-liners:
We are not a slave to any blueprint that’s done in November the prior year. You watch events and make decisions based on all the input you get from all the different sources, whether it’s a minor league coach, roving coach, manager, farm director, statistical analysis – what’s the situation with your big league club? There are a thousand different variables that are always changing, subtly to some degree or not, so you just play with events.
That folks, is what a real ML GM sounds like. Instead Royals fans are stuck with a painful year and a half of TPJ. We are stuck watching the same bullpen we started the year with and since June has been largely terrible. To add insult to injury we get gems of wisdom like this from Moore:
Let’s just trust the process. If other people don’t want to trust the process, that’s fine. If other people want to abandon the process, then abandon it. I’m not abandoning the process. I believe in the process.
Ah the enigmatic and undefined process. He mentions it 5 times in 5 sentences so it clearly is important to him, but at no time does he define it unless you count this:
You get a good group of people together. You work hard together. You trust in one another. You go through the difficult times. You work hard to make good decisions. You keep guys together and, eventually, it will happen.
Somehow I don’t feel better.
We’re always mindful of trying to acquire players with usable speed and players that can play very good defense.
That just makes me feel worse.
The defensive statistics, I still really don’t understand how some of those statistics are evaluated, I really don’t. When you watch baseball games every single day, it’s very apparent who can play defensively and who can’t.
Okay, now I’m just going to stop trying.
Andy MacPhail gets it, Ken Williams gets it, Dayton Moore doesn’t get it. He isn’t going to get it anytime soon, and he clearly doesn’t understand this team’s fan base. He has done some good things to improve this organization, but the end of his tenure as Royals GM should come sooner rather than later. His current performance, relative inaction, and recent quotes all make the part of my brain dedicated to baseball scream with outrage.