Jul 11, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ervin Santana (54) pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning of a game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Staying The Course

The first half is in the books and the Royals are right where they usually are at this point in the season – under .500 and out of the race. This year was supposed to be different. We were going to witness first hand the culmination of Dayton Moore’s much maligned process. They were going to win now because Dayton said so, never mind that they were going to be out talented and outspent by the Detroit Tigers.

They looked like legitimate contenders for the season’s first five weeks but then it all fell apart. The offense that Moore ignored during the offseason struggled to score runs. The revamped rotation, that looked so good early, has just two pitchers with an ERA+ north of 100. The bullpen’s inconsistency forced Ned Yost to try anyone and everyone in close and late situations. Brian argued Monday that the time to sell is now, and that’s exactly what Moore should do.

Except, he can’t. And he knows it.

“I don’t like the term ‘sellers.’ If and whatever we do (in terms of trades), it will be done with the interest of winning more games now. We’re going to keep pushing in all areas to make us a better overall team and ultimately to compete better now.”

That quote by Moore came today courtesy of Jeffrey Flanagan and all but confirms that he thinks the team is still very much in the race. Spoiler alert; they’re not. The Detroit Tigers aren’t the 2003 Royals. They’ve got this.

He sold owner David Glass on a theory that it takes X amount of years to build a contender (I used the letter X because the actual number seems to change based on Moore’s mood). Other teams have shown that you can go from afterthought to the postseason in three years but Moore remains steadfast in his belief that such a thing couldn’t happen here. Probably because of The K or something.

Team 2009 2012 2013
Royals 65-97 72-90 43-49
Orioles 64-98 93-69 53-43
Nationals 59-103 98-64 48-47
A’s 75-87 94-68 56-39
Pirates 62-99 79-83 56-37
The Orioles, A’s, and Nationals made the playoffs last season. The Pirates likely will this year. The Royals, meanwhile, are heading towards another 90 loss season. It was fun to believe that they were just one or two players away from catching the Tigers, but now we know better. It’s actually quicker to rattle off the positions that don’t need upgraded – SP, SP, 1B, LF, DH, C, CL.

Moore should sell and every player on the 25 man roster should be made available. But like I said earlier, he can’t, because he won’t get the opportunity to rebuild. If trading Wil Myers was about winning 80 games, and saving his job, then he knows he can’t clean house without finding himself on the curb too. The downside to selling is that Moore prefers players that just aren’t all that good. While acquiring guys that do the little things, but are generally unproductive, would make The Cartoonist happy, it won’t help them win games.

He may be able to convince Glass that 2014 was the window all along and that he really didn’t expect to win the division season this year. If he can accomplish that neat little trick then he could flip Ervin Santana for players that could help next year and keep his job in the process. According to another comment in the Flanagan piece, that may be the road he is taking.

“Obviously, the ultimate goal is a world championship,” Moore said. “But how many winning seasons have we had in the last 20 years? Two? We have to overcome that hurdle first and then move past it, and we’re trying to do it as quickly as possible.

The problem is, it’s hard to imagine this team being much better in 2014. The window that Moore thinks is wide open right now is slightly cracked at best. He built the roster so that’s on him. He committed to a course of action during the offseason and now has no choice but to continue down that path. Buckle up, Royals fans, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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