Trusting the Process?

There’s certainly something to be said about developing a farm system that is the envy of baseball. It takes talent. It takes dedication. It takes all members of the organization to be on the same page, with almost everything they do, and to have a commitment to each other.

Apparently though, it also takes time, and lots of it.

With last week’s column there was a little bit a ruffled-feather with one of our loyal readers. I still have little reason to believe that the Royals’ Process needed or needs to take eight years to fully complete itself, but there it was in the comment section*, the reminder that it took the Minnesota Twins a lot of time as well. For this I must please ask one small favor to Royals fans and fans in general of any organization: stop pointing to the Twins as the lighthouse that shines the way to baseball supremacy.

*It was also commented that my worries about a GM asking out of the draft process because of his ties to his former employer are misplaced because that was actually a sign of “integrity”. I would argue that true integrity, if one was truly concerned about involvement with two teams during one draft, would have been not to accept the new job to begin with.

What one organization does is different from another, which is different from another, which is different from another. Sure you can use those “processes” that have come before as a reason to believe, but no two situations are the same. And to point to the Twins and the time it took with that team, and completely ignore the wasted money and unclear thought processes of roster acquisition at the Major League level with this team, is irresponsible reasoning that only happens when a fan is talking about their favorite organization.

That being said over the past couple of weeks I’ve had a kind of renaissance of thought as I’ve been reading fellow KoK’er Michael Engel’s work on the Royals countdown of prospects.  I think I (gasp) trust the Process.

Well, I trust the scouting department’s ability to find and acquire amateur talent. And it’s because of them – until of course some other team makes J.J. Picollo their General Manager – there’s reason to think that not only is winning right around the corner in Kansas City, but that it can be sustained over a long period of time.

It’s for that reason, that the Process makes perfect sense.

Much is made, and probably far too much, about the economic roadblock that stands between the Royals and the rest of baseball. For the most part I think this argument is just an excuse given as the reason why the Royals can’t sign one high-priced, quality free agent, and instead opt for three or four crappy ones that end up costing just as much.

Things seemed to turn with the first two years of the Gil Meche signing. The Royals took a run at a potential difference maker instead of opting for the normal course of “well we have to have a right fielder, let’s sign Reggie Sanders” that has plagued this franchise. But this off season again returned the Ghost of Losing’s Past with the lineup filler signings of a few million dollars spent for two outfielders that don’t do anything that the ones on the roster don’t already do.* Such is life.

*Yes, I know Melky Cabrera wouldn’t be on this team if Dayton Moore knew he would acquire Lorenzo Cain. But does that really excuse the signing? I get that the Moore bashing can be more than redundant and incredibly annoying, but the Moore apologizing and excuse making is just as much so. There are numerous red flags about this team moving forward as money is being spent on recognizable names with the ever tangible “plays the game the right way” (whatever that means) attitude, when they aren’t any better players than the ones they’re replacing. Sure there’s tons of talent in the minor leagues, but unless we’re positive 25 Major League roster spots will be filled by prospects from the farm system, at some point free agents will have to be used to supplement.

Although, given all the head-scratchiness of the Jeff Francoeur and Cabrera signings, running an organization with the process of fully stocking the farm system sets the Royals up to have a large window for winning, assuming they continue to pay well-over slot in rounds two, three, and four in the draft like they do now. And maybe that’s the real definition of the Process: continually, year-after-year without exception, invest heavily in the draft and in Latin America.

There’s little chance the Royals can be like the Red Sox and be a perennial 90-win team and routinely have a loaded system, because at some point payroll will become an issue as it pushes into the $100 million range. However, assuming the high-end talent on the way is true star talent, there’s always the chance that this run for the next six to seven years not only allows Kansas City to compete now, but enables them to continue their great work in the minor leagues to set up another run later.

This, I’m thinking, is really what the Process is all about. And I think in that, I have complete trust. I just don’t think it needed to take eight years to define itself.

Topics: Dayton Moore, Gil Meche, J.J. Picollo, Jeff Francoeur, KC Royals, Melky Cabrera

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  • Eric

    I would disagree with the timing. How long does it take to completely rebuild a farm system that is completely empty, and stock it with the kind of depth you need to compete on a regular basis for several years? Considering that the Royals have spent as much on draft and development as any other team, nationally and internationally, and we all agree that Moore has a good handle on this, how much faster could it have gone?

    • Kevin Scobee

      How long does it take to completely rebuild the farm system? Probably about as long as it’s taken. How long does it take to put a competent roster on the field capable of not losing 95+ games? Probably not as long as it’s taken. And we do not all agree Moore has a good handle on this. We could agree the scouting department as a terrific handle on this, but not DM.

      As for how much fast could it have gone: working on that now. I’m not at all stuck to one way of thinking about this. I’m hoping that what I’ll find is the drafts of the last four to five years could not have gone any better. Of course, that doesn’t excuse the monies wasted on major league signings. That’s the big issue, and always should be.

  • Michael

    “For this I must please ask one small favor to Royals fans and fans in general of any organization: stop pointing to the Twins as the lighthouse that shines the way to baseball supremacy.”
    —Why? Would you not want the Royals (a similar market) to at least have a chance at making the playoffs every year? And many times playing Oct. baseball? Who should we look at then? The Yankees or the Red Sox? How bout the Giants? Or the Cubs? Asinine statement.

    “And to point to the Twins and the time it took with that team, and completely ignore the wasted money and unclear thought processes of roster acquisition at the Major League level with this team, is irresponsible reasoning that only happens when a fan is talking about their favorite organization.”
    —-And what free agents, and this is an important one that EVERYONE seems to ignore, would have signed here? It’s real easy to say, “the Royals should have signed Tori Hunter, or Cliff Lee, or Carl Crawford” but THEY HAVE TO WANT TO SIGN HERE. So the question comes, how do we get them to want to sign? Answer: We build a team from drafting, Latin America, and trades. Which is exactly what we have done. You have to work with who will work with you. I’m going to make a prediction here and say once the Royals start winning and show some promise to the rest of the league, we will be able to land a good major free agent or two.

    With saying that, I’m not excusing some of the acquisitions at the major league lvl. I didn’t like the Guillen move and some others as well, but every team has these acquisitions.

    “*It was also commented that my worries about a GM asking out of the draft process because of his ties to his former employer are misplaced because that was actually a sign of “integrity”. I would argue that true integrity, if one was truly concerned about involvement with two teams during one draft, would have been not to accept the new job to begin with.”
    —This is ridiculous. Integrity isn’t about NOT taking another job with another team. Look at the context of the situation. Dayton had done a years worth or more work on the 2006 draft for Atlanta. He potentially could have really sabotaged Atlanta and manipulated the draft in the Royals favor. Him sitting out and not having any input on the draft for the Royals that year is integrity.

    • http://kingsofkauffman.com Michael Engel

      By 2020, I hope the rest of the AL Central is pointing at Kansas City saying “that’s how you turn a franchise around”.

      It’s been a frustrating time waiting for the rebuilding to stick. I have to agree with Michael above on the free agent point – the Royals can only sign whoever agrees to sign with them. The good players are going to attract attention from everyone and it takes something extra for the Royals to get them to come our way. Right now, it’s opportunity – Jeff Francis, Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera. Last year it was Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik – they all wanted the opportunity to show they could still be every day big leaguers.

      In the future, the opportunity will be the chance to be on an up and coming team and could (should?) make it a bit easier to get free agents here when necessary. That being said, Dayton has shown some strange moves in his free agent signings so far. Guillen is one example, but offering the second year to Jason Kendall and Kyle Farnsworth in the past (and overpaying) seems like a ploy that was necessary to get them to sign…but that Dayton felt they were necessary to sign when so many other options were available is the concerning part. He’s shown he can draft and sign solid players from the amateur ranks, but he hasn’t shown the same skill – yet – in constructing a major league roster or in evaluating talent already in the majors. To me, that’s the heart of my inability to get 100% behind DM (not that anyone should be anyway).

      As for the 2006 draft…until either he or Hochevar are out of baseball, if someone asks Dayton “who would you have drafted if you were coordinating the Royals draft?” I don’t think you’d get a straight answer…