Moore outlines plans for KC's future
GM has Royals moving forward with robust farm system
CLEVELAND -- Royals general manager Dayton Moore made a very difficult short-term decision for his team's future when he replaced his good friend, Trey Hillman, as manager with Ned Yost.
Moore was so torn by that unexpectedly quick move that he was emotionally speechless for several moments during the announcement a week ago. The Royals' long-term goals come more easily from Moore, because they've been a long time in the making.
"We're going to continue to do what we've been doing with regards to developing players in the farm system," Moore said. "We've got a few players doing well in Triple-A, which is an upgrade from last year. Our Double-A team is doing very well. And we've got to continue to focus on developing quality pitchers that impact our Major League team, and position players as well."
Moore arrived from Atlanta in 2006 with the directive from owner David Glass and team president Dan Glass to, among other things, upgrade the Minor League system. Moore believes that's being done.
In charge of three First-Year Player Drafts since then, Moore can look on a farm system that has the three first-round picks, third baseman Mike Moustakas (2007), first baseman Eric Hosmer ('08) and pitcher Aaron Crow ('09) as fast risers. Moustakas, at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, and Hosmer, at Class A Wilmington, have been early-season sensations this year.
Moore declines to single out players he envisions in a Kansas City uniform in the near future, but there are obvious standouts -- such as left-handed pitchers Mike Montgomery and Blaine Hardy, first baseman Kila Ka'aihue, outfielder Derrick Robinson, catcher Wil Myers and a fellow who is learning to play left field at Omaha, Alex Gordon.
"Our goal by 2013, 2014 is to have the majority of our 25-man roster be homegrown players," Moore said. "That's what we're shooting for, that's been the long-term plan all along. We were brought in here to build a farm system, build an international program and be aggressive in the Draft, and that's what we're continuing to do."
With the Glass' encouragement, Moore has vastly widened the front-office, scouting and instructional resources since he took over from Allard Baird in late May 2006.
"Obviously, you've got to be aggressive," Moore said. "Not everything will work, but you've got to stay aggressive, because there are 29 other clubs that will stay aggressive. And if you back off, you're certainly going to seal your fate."
Fans, of course, are interested in immediate results, and whether the instant gratification aspects will be fulfilled is another matter. Yost was brought in and the early results were promising -- he won four of his first six games and the club generally seemed to be playing better -- but he's got to deal with the same players that let Hillman down.
There's no guarantee that Yost will be back next season, but his approach is to prepare players for future years -- even if it means sacrificing a victory or two right now. Example: Yost let Luke Hochevar try to pitch his way out of a seventh-inning jam Saturday against the White Sox instead of bringing in the bullpen. Hochevar was unable to get out of the frame, and the Royals lost -- but it was a lesson learned.
|"I'm not talking about getting to .500, I'm talking about winning the World Series when I say eight to 10 years."|
|-- Dayton Moore|
Yost, in his earlier role as a special adviser, watched the Royals' Minor Leaguers in Spring Training and early in the regular season and, like Moore, sees a solid foundation.
"For me, it's a little more than solid. It's exciting," Yost said. "We play in a big ballpark. In Milwaukee, we built our team around fly-ball, power-hitting young players. In a big stadium, I think the smart thing to do is build your team around pitching, defense and speed. But the key ingredient to that is going to be pitching, and you look at the arms they've got down there and there are kids that have a chance to come up here and be quality Major League pitchers -- on both ends, starting and relieving."
On the day after changing managers, Moore ignited a minor cloud burst in a comment on the Royals' flagship radio station in Kansas City that was "an 8-to-10 process to get an organization turned around and on the winning track."
Apparently, listeners grumbled that it seemed like a long time to wait. Moore's rejoinder to them and the media: Do your research.
"Look what Colorado did, look what Minnesota did, look what the New York Yankees did," Moore said. "It took the Yankees seven years. They committed to it in '89, and finally in '96 they won with homegrown guys. I'm not talking about getting to .500, I'm talking about winning the World Series when I say eight to 10 years.
"To get your team in the playoffs, that's how long it takes. Terry Ryan and the Minnesota Twins had a well-built farm system, and they started in '94 when Terry took over, and for seven straight years they had 87 to 97 losses. In year eight, they were above .500, and in year nine they were in the playoffs. That's all I said. It just amazes me that guys don't do their own research."
Moore sighted other similar examples that endured long losing terms before winning, such as the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves, where Moore learned his craft.
Moore, of course, is already right at four years into his stewardship of the Royals, and he's under contract through 2014.
"I just know what we need to do, and if we run out of time, we run out of time," he said. "I know how long it takes. I mean, look at it: When a player signs out of high school or college, look at the timeline. What year do they become productive in the Major Leagues? They take two to four years in the Minor Leagues, if everything goes right, and two to four years of playing every day in the Major Leagues to become a productive, impactful, winning Major League player. And that's if everything goes right, that's how long it takes. And I point that out and everybody goes nuts."
For those who have less patience, we take you back to Yost's comment about the Royals during his first day on the job this past Friday.
"This club is not that far away," Yost said. "They've had their struggles, but 10 games under .500 at this point of the year, it's not a death sentence," Yost said. "The Colorado Rockies proved that last year. We definitely can go places and go uphill from where we are right now."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.