The Progress of 'The Process'

Dayton Moore hasn’t always been the most fan- and criticism-friendly guy. This has been shown in several ways, my favorite of which was the banning of Rany Jazayerli from, well, everything. This has made fan relations difficult and has created a lot of animosity toward Dayton and several other members of the front office/management.

Well, Dayton didn’t help that when he started bringing up “the process.” If there’s a way of transforming the trickle of fan criticism into a firehose, Dayton nailed it on the head.

We’ve had various sparse details over the time since we first learned of The Process. The time span is something like 8-10 years from start to World Series Championship. It involves drafting great players and bringing in other minor leaguers that will arrive in time for the big push. No one knows what happens after these 8-10 years and, frankly, we only know a little about what happens during them.

So, I started thinking: where are we in The Process right now?
On the positive side of things, the Royals have had very strong drafts since the Dayton Moore era dawned. Things were a little gray and fuzzy last season when some of the top prospects were having rough seasons. However, as you all know, their performance this season has vaulted the organization to what many in the industry believe is clearly the best farm system. As far as we can tell, this is crucial to the progress of The Process.

That’s the obvious part of The Process. Less obvious is what has happened outside of the drafts.

Possibly the most-derided facet of Dayton’s tenure has been his ability to acquire sub-par players at above-par prices. You might remember some of these guys: Richard Ankiel, William Bloomquist, Jason Kendall, and Kyle Farnsworth. I don’t know anyone who was glad that these guys were acquired. No one even knew how this fit into The Process. They were neither good nor young and predictably didn’t help the club at all.

This was after the long-term signings of Gilbert Meche and Jose Guillen that didn’t really give the club much over time. Meche had a couple solid years, but injuries soon ended the possibility of more production. And Jose Guillen…well…

Guys like these really made Dayton’s comments about improving the team seem pretty convoluted. Okay, very convoluted. While he talked of youth and young talent, he acquired the relative elderly who truly had nothing to give the club.

Heads up, though, as Dayton turned the signings of Farnsworth, Guillen, Podsednik, and Ankiel, plus the acquisition of Alberto Callaspo, into four minor leaguers, one young below average starter (Sean O’Sullivan), and one horrible major league reliever (Jesse Chavez). In the four minor leaguers are three pitchers that have a legitimate shot at strong relievers or above average starters and one catcher who likely has a future as a backup. Not a bad haul for a lot of aging players that have no real utility in KC.

I’ve been saying this for a while, though, not in blog form. Dayton makes bad signings, but he’s using them for two reasons: holding over until the Royals have the players to actually compete and trading for the talent that might actually help with said World Series run. I don’t want to sound like a Dayton apologist, as he does a ton of things that really irk me, but he has made some solid decisions given what he had to start with.

Fans get really upset with Dayton over his signings and even more over his descriptions of the guys he signs, but he has sorted out some of the problems so far. I would say that if he opened his mouth less he might have more fans.

So, where do these signings and trades move us? Well, we’re at year 4 in the Dayton Moore 8-10 year plan for going from rags to riches. Before Dayton was hired, the organization was ranked 23rd by Baseball America. In those four years, we’ve improved to be the almost-guaranteed-to-be-unanimously 1st-ranked system. Between 2001 and 2006, the Royals were never higher than the 14th-ranked system, and only higher than 21st twice. If you ask me, that’s progress.

Since I haven’t been a huge fan of Dayton’s total ability, this is great news. Something in the organization is definitely improving. We’re at the halfway point in The Process and have reached the pinnacle of prospect production. If that isn’t moving forward, I don’t know what is.

The biggest problem with the outlook of The Process is that there will undoubtedly be holes in the team. Filling an entire roster with players from the Royals’ own farm team is a dream that most likely will not come true. Finding the players to fill these gaps isn’t something I trust Dayton to do just yet.

Is that justified? Well, yes and no. Since a lot of the signings or acquisitions were supposedly done to turn them around and acquire young prospects, it’s hard to tell if he could judge and sign/trade for major league talent. The players he has acquired have been pretty rough, so it’s impossible to tell if he can actually find solid players to help the team compete.

At the halfway point of The Process, we’ve reached a bottom-heavy state of the organization. The best potential is in the minors and the Royals themselves are full of a few very good players and several average or below average guys. For a system that had very little talent four years ago, this is some great progress.

For something as clouded in mystery as The Process, it’s difficult to really get a grip on where the Royals are and where they’re headed. Nonetheless, giving Dayton no credit for the advancement of the organization would be a mistake. I know many fans dislike or hate Dayton for no reason other than he makes some bizarre acquisitions (see: acquiring two unnecessary middle infielders to the 40-man roster right before it needs to be cut down). If you look at where the team is now compared to where it was four years ago, though, it’s in a much better position. And not crediting Dayton for at least some of that would be in poor taste.

It’s not all flowers and candy from here on out, though, as there is a lot left to do, but there is definitely potential for competition. I’ll defer to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus on the matter of where we stand now:

“The more I wrote about these prospects, the more trouble I had figuring out any way for things to go wrong.”

Let’s hope Dayton doesn’t find a way.

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Dayton Moore Kansas City Royals KC MLB Royals The Process

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