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.