Dayton Moore Newsbeat
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Friday, October 03, 2014
It’s worth talking for a second about Aoki, because he so thoroughly symbolizes this team. As a young man, he was a major star in his home country of Japan, a whirlwind of a hitter a sort of a second Ichiro. At 29 he somewhat inexplicably fell off. He then found himself in Milwaukee, and this past offseason, he came to Kansas City. He was thoroughly disappointing until late September when, for no apparent reason, he briefly proved impossible to get out. He hit .458 the last two weeks of the season as the Royals held on to their first playoff spot in a generation.
But it is in the field that Aoki is a particular joy to watch; I have never seen a player look so confused while making so many good plays. It is like Aoki’s mind is a lost GPS voice repeating, “Still calculating,” but he somehow gets to the ball and catches it anyway. In addition to the backhanded stab over Cain’s glove, he also spun helplessly under a ball he’d lost in the lights, and he chased after one warning track fly ball by way of San Bernardino. But the balls all ended up in his glove, as always happens, and in this, he seems as surprised as everyone else. After catching the ball over Cain, he smiled and shrugged and theatrically tossed the ball into the booing crowd.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
In a small way, the Royals are back-to-back World Champs.
I And so, more or less from the start, the Royals became a more professional operation under Moore. He hired some excellent people to work with him. He dazzled people inside baseball with the team’s commitment to building a farm system. And, in short order, the Royals were not the joke of baseball. The Royals lost 100 games four times between 2002 and 2006. They have not lost 100 since.
That, though, is not exactly something you brag about on your resume, and while Moore made the Royals slightly more respectable, he and his staff could not do much more. They continued to make horrendous blunders on the Major League roster. Moore hired Trey Hillman to be the manager. He signed Jose Guillen and Gil Meche to team-record contracts. The Royals talked a better game but continued to feature an allotment of aging Jason Kendalls and Ross Gloads and Miguel Olivos and Scott Podsedniks, while mixing in relatively-young versions of Yuniesky Betancourt and Kyle Davies and Luke Hochevar. The results were, in their own way, as depressing as ever…..
In 2011, there were signs that Moore’s work was having an impact. That was the year I wrote my Sports Illustrated story about the Royals’ future dynasty, and the year various people around the sport began gushing about their minor league system. Then, last season, the Royals won 86 games, their most since the strike – a season so promising that even Moore’s ill-advised “In a small way, I feel like we’ve won the World Series” quote at the end did not tarnish the optimism.
And … it is working. Shields has been the good pitcher the Royals expected. And the Royals’ rotation has been altered. Last year, the Royals led the American League in ERA. This year, they have five pitchers who are on pace to throw 170 innings and win 10-plus games. I’m no fan of the pitcher-win statistic, but it is telling that the last time the Royals had five pitchers with 10 wins was, yep, 1985….
And what makes all of this so satisfying for Royals fans because most never saw it coming. They were the same old Royals until, suddenly, they weren’t. They were defined by their blunders until, suddenly, some of their plans actually worked.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
The last thing this eight-years-in-the-Processing Royals season needs is drama, but here it is anyway. One of the team’s highest-paid and longest-tenured players feels singled out and is going passive-aggressive to make his point and subtly call out a teammate.
Ego and self-interest are on both sides of this, team and player each having legitimate beef. Billy Butler justifiably sees himself as the club’s most established hitter, and wonders why he’s been occasionally benched and now moved down in the lineup for the second time while Eric Hosmer appears to have birthrights to the top of the batting order every day.
The truth is that Hosmer’s spot in the lineup is being evaluated, but for now, the team sees Butler as an underperforming and now overpaid hitter on a roster in desperate need of consistent production, exposing an ego that’s always simmered just beneath the surface.
Ned Yost has final say on the lineup, which is put together with the input of the coaches and front office, including sabermetric specialists. None of them would say it publicly, but moving Butler down in the lineup while keeping Hosmer higher is as clear a sign as the team can give that — track record or not — they have more faith in Hosmer reaching his potential than in Butler regaining his past.
Wait, what? You buried the lede! The Royals have sabermetric specialists????
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