One of the things that’s amused me this off season is the criticisms leveled at those who aren’t buying the Royals as a playoff contender. These mom’s basement types, as one vocal member of the Kansas City media unimaginatively calls them, aren’t just being negative for negative’s sake. This team has question marks, this team has holes, and as much as people want to believe otherwise, all the sunshine and lollipops in the world aren’t going to make those concerns disappear.
I’m a card carrying member of the basement brigade, and why yes, I do eat pop tarts for breakfast, lunch and dinner (I prefer blueberry). I tend to focus more on what a player does on the field and less what he does in the clubhouse. Jeff Francoeur may be a great teammate, and have a great smile, but he also posted a .287 on-base percentage last year. In my book that trumps all the off the field positives he brings to the team.
Optimism doesn’t come easy for me anymore. Two decades of incompetence will do that to a person. Many people look at the Royals roster and see a potential playoff team but I see a third place team that might win 80 games this year. For the Royals to play meaningful baseball in September this season a lot has to break right. All the team’s what ifs have to fall in place and that’s something I can’t envision happening.
According to more than a few debates I’ve had this winter this viewpoint somehow makes me less a fan than those who have bought in. This is, of course, absurdly untrue. Since I have the platform, I’d like to address four comments thrown my way over and over again.
“You want players to fail.”
It’s a bit of reach to think that complaining about a player’s lack of production equals cheerleading. Expecting a player to fail is not the same as hoping he’ll fail. I expected Yuniesky Betancourt to under perform, and to get far too many plate appearances, and that’s exactly what happened. Was I hoping he’d embarrass himself every time he came to the plate? Of course not. If someone can find an article or a tweet where I was cheering for failure then I’ll retire from the Royals blogosphere to live a life of quiet solitude.
“Games aren’t played on paper.”
Computer is sometimes substituted for paper but the point remains the same. This seems to be the go-to phrase when statistics are mentioned. I know games aren’t played on paper, and I’m glad, because I really do enjoy watching the Royals play. I also know anything can happen and a team can over perform its expectations, it does happen, but I don’t think you should ignore statistical evidence that suggests it won’t.
“Nobody has ever hired you to be a general manager.”
There’s a bit of hypocrisy involved in this statement. A few of the people who told me this spent the entire NFL season complaining about Scott Pioli. I’ve marveled at the way the Kansas City media highlights failures by the Chiefs front office while at the same time ignoring the same failures that are occurring across the street. To get back on topic though, no, I’ve never been a General Manager candidate. Here’s the thing folks, blogging isn’t just throwing a few hundred words onto the internet, there is hours and hours of research involved, some of which that shows Dayton Moore has made mistakes. Just because I’ve never been a GM doesn’t mean I’m incapable of recognizing those mistakes.
“You hate every move Dayton Moore makes.”
If you follow me on twitter or read my blog posts then you know that I’ve praised many of Moore’s moves. It’s intellectually dishonest to claim otherwise. Sure, I criticize more than praise, but the fact is a Moore team has never sniffed .500 or the postseason. That’s not exactly the track record of a GM who’s above criticism. Moves of Moore’s that I’ve endorsed include, among others, the Zack Greinke trade and extensions to Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar.