Defending Allard Baird, Plus Other News


For those of you waiting for the draft related post I promised yesterday, it’s in the works.  I have decided to expand the scope of my original concept.  To do it justice, I needed to gather additional data and work through some formatting issues.  Until I get that article finished and posted, I wanted to share some recent news on former Royals’ Ryan Shealy, Angel Berroa, and Coco Crisp.  After those quick hits, I will launch into my impassioned defense of Allard Baird.

A Quick Public Service Announcement:

I am truly overjoyed to announce that’s Blue Jays site Jays Journal is now up and running.  The lead writer for the Jays joins us after doing some excellent work over on Blue Jays Daze since April.  Please take a moment to check out his work.  It’s almost Christmas so take a moment to escape from reality and fantasize about having Alex Anthopoulos as GM of the Royals.  He’s young and it is very early, but it looks like the Jays hit a HR with their choice of J.P. Ricciardi’s replacement.

Gone But Not Forgotten:

1B-Ryan Shealy (30) signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.  I wish him the best of luck and hope he finds a great deal of health, success, and playing time for the Rays.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I will always wonder about what could have been if he had stayed healthy.  Even with the injuries and irregular playing time, he hit 0.260/.320/.420 in 123 games as a member of the Kansas City Royals.  He wasn’t going to be an All-Star, but he certainly could have contributed.  His career OPS+ currently sits at 97, and defensively he’s been well above average at 1B with a career UZR/150 of 15.0.

On Thursday, SS-Angel Berroa (31) signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  You’d be hard pressed to find a Royals fan with a positive opinion of the soon-to-be 32 year old, but after watching TPJ and Yuniesky Betancourt “play” the position in recent years, I miss the Berroa days.  At least with Angel, we had hope that he’d figure it out and recapture his ROY form.  It just never happened.

OF-Coco Crisp hasn’t found a new home yet but he’s been in the news.  He was linked to the San Diego Padres on Friday via the concept of “mutual interest.”  As of today, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Coco may be roaming the OF for the Oakland Athletics during the 2010 season.  The deal is expected to be around $5 million for one-year.  Not surprsingly, Rob Neyer isn’t a fan.  I support the Athletics signing Crisp because then the Royals won’t be able to.

Defending Allard Baird:

Over on Bleacher Report, Unknown Royals Fan posted this.  I include it here because I wanted to react to a specific part of the article.

"And while we’re at it, I think some apologies are due the Glass family.Follow my logic here: The urban legend around Kansas City had it that the only reason the Genius was so awful as a GM was that he continued getting interference from the Glass family…assuming, of course, you can picture David Glass pounding the boardroom table and thundering, “I said I want JOHN BUCK, dammit!”That said, one thing that all the writers agree on is that the Glass family is leaving Moore alone…and, yet, we’re getting the same results."

The above is wrong on so many levels, that I don’t know where to begin.  If you accept the fact that the Glass family is leaving Moore alone, and I do, then the fact he is getting the same results as Allard Baird did while dealing with interference makes Allard Baird a superior GM.  He, in fact, might have been a genius and let’s not forget that two of the three cornerstones of this franchise were drafted by Allard.

Add in the fact that we know via multiple published reports, and publicly provided thoughts from baseball insiders that the Glass family absolutely dictated what Baird could or could not do.  This is far from urban legend.  The only way this knowledge could be more definitive is if Allard Baird came out and said that all the rumors were true.  That will never happen, however, because Baird remains a class act.

We know that ownership mandated Baird get players ready to contribute in the majors in exchange for Carlos Beltran.  He had limited space to maneuver and everyone in baseball knew it.  Faced with the directive from ownership, Baird looked at the roster and correctly reasoned that the team needed help at 3B, C, and SP.  Let’s not gloss over the fact that Teahen and Buck were legit prospects with very bright futures when Kansas City got their hands on them.  I remain steadfast in my opinion that both players were prevented from realizing their potential thanks to the ML coaching staff completely jacking up their swings.  Mike Wood gave the Royals about what they could have expected from him.

We know that Baird had worked out a deal with the Angels that would have sent Mike Sweeney to the Angels for several top prospects.  The names of those prospects varies depending on who you believe but in all the versions there are two constants.  At least 3 prospects would have been sent to Kansas City in the trade, and all the names rumored to be in the deal were among the cream of the Anaheim’s prospect crop at the time.

We know that Allard Baird was given a mandate by ownership to get a ML player in return for OF-Jermaine Dye.  This mandate came after Allard had worked out a deal for a young OF prospect, who’s name escapes me, but that trade was vetoed by ownership.  The end result of course is that Baird had to settle for Neifi Perez.

In my mind, Dayton Moore has only done two things better than Allard Baird did.  Moore got ownership to back off and he got them to invest more.  Under Moore, the money has been flowing into the draft, international scouting, and the free agent market.  I generally give Dayton credit for these things because I believe he demanded these resources before he would accept the job.  There is, however, a chance that the Glass family had come to the conclusion that these things were necessary regardless of who replaced Allard.  It is also possible that the influx of revenue sharing cash and the increase in revenue from sources such as have inspired David and Dan Glass to spend more independently of who the GM is currently.  Dayton could be the reason he has more resources from ownership, or his acceptance of the position timed out with a series of factors that make it appear as if he is respsonsible for these changes.  I want to stress that I think Dayton rightfully gets the credit for these things, but instead of being the primary factor, he might have been just a part of the perfect storm of circumstances.  Despite the reasons it is plain to see that the Royals are spending more and that Dayton has more freedom and independence to utilize those additional resources.

Dayton has more and has done about the same as what Baird did with less.  When stacking up the abilities of Dayton Moore and Allard Baird, if you were to label either of them a genius* it would have to be Baird.  I’ll state it more plainly; Allard was a better GM than Dayton has been thus far.  Baird gets railed for the lackluster farm system Dayton inherited, but I think ownership’s attitude and spending played a far more significant role in that than any GM ever could.

*I’m being serious and not snarky in my use of the word genius.

Don’t you think Baird wanted to increase the number of scouts working for him?

Don’t you think Baird wanted to draft and sign guys in the later rounds for more than the recommended slot values?

Don’t you think Baird recognized that the organization needed to invest more in international scouting and offer more than minimal signing bonuses to those international players they identified?

Of course he wanted to do these things, his background was in scouting.  He had friends and connections in scouting making him a perfect candidate to formulate and execute a plan to build the Royals into a scouting power with an impressive farm system.  All Allard Baird ever needed was the financial backing and freedom to make it happen.

The reasons for the failures of the Royals organization under Baird, and Herk Robinson for that matter, are not hard to identify.  It is also not hard to connect the collective dots to see that the source of the problems went above the position of General Manager.  Urban legend or not, if ownership vetoed even half of the deals they allegedly did when Allard was the Royals GM then that alone makes him a genius compared to Dayton Moore.

I’ve gone on an on, and I haven’t even gotten into their personalities and their treatment of the media and fans.  Allard Baird was a class act from his first day to his last.  In fact he has remained a class act, to this day, about his time in KC.  He was asked to do a job with not just one but both his arms tied behind his back, got blamed for moves and draft picks largely out of his control, and still has not taken a free shot at the Royals organization.

With Allard, I always got the sense that he empathized with and listened to the fans with a sympathetic ear.  I can’t remember a time when he dodged an interview with either AM sports radio station here in KC.  Whether or not he winds up being successful here, I can’t say the same for Dayton Moore.

If you inserted Allard Baird and Dayton Moore as a teams GM and gave them the exact same resources to do their job, there is no doubt in my mind that Allard Baird’s team would come out ahead of Dayton Moore’s.

We don’t owe the Glass family any apologies.   The Glass family owes Allard Baird an apology, and I suspect they have already given him that much.  You can take issue with the way they have run the team in the past, but I believe that they have seen the error of their ways.  Unfortunately it took Allard Baird’s six year tenure as GM for them to come to that realization.

(Wally Fish is Kings of Kauffman’s lead blogger.  Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)