Dayton Moore planned to board a flight to the Windy City on Tuesday afternoon to meet his free-falling Royals, an under-.500 club with seven losses in their last eight games, a group dubbed by its manager as a “second-half team” that is winless in the second half.
Alarm bells sound any time a general manager travels to meet his club on the road in the midst of a losing streak. Moore said he had been planning this trip for weeks, and indicated manager Ned Yost was in no danger.
Asked about for an appraisal of Yost’s performance and an update on his status, Moore delivered a vote of confidence. He also indicated the club continued to search for upgrades on the trade market, and would not become sellers before the July 31 deadline.
“All of our success in this organization is tied together,” he told The Star in a telephone conversation. “We’ve fought through some challenging times in the past. We’ll do it again. Together.
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“We’re certainly not playing our best baseball. We haven’t played very good, truthfully, since July.”
The slump stretches back further than that. Since its 10-game winning streak ended in June, the team has lost 18 of 27 games. It fell from first place in the American League Central to third. The Royals woke up on Tuesday morning trailing Detroit by eight games. A gap of 4 1/2 games separated them from the second wild card.
Moore declined to point fingers. He followed the advice of his two-time All Star left fielder, Alex Gordon: He looked in the mirror.
“It’s been frustrating,” he said. “But I look at myself. I’m accountable for this. I look at what I can do. I’m not blaming anybody else. I’ve got to look internally at myself and what I can do, how I can contribute.”
He added, “I don’t blame the players. I don’t blame coaches. I don’t blame managers. I don’t blame ownership. I look at myself, and what I can do, and what we can do as a baseball operations department to improve our team.”
In that vein, the organization remains interested in improving the situation at right field, designated hitter and perhaps the bullpen. Moore has already acquired right-handed reliever Jason Frasor from Texas. The team is thought to have interest in Alex Rios, Frasor’s former Rangers teammate, along with Philadelphia outfielder Marlon Byrd and others.
“We’re going to keep pushing until the standings say that we’re done,” Moore said. “We’re going to keep pushing.”
Yet adding one hitter cannot be considered a panacea. The slugging in June proved to be a mirage. The team still ranks 14th in the American League in on-base plus slugging percentage. Moore hopes the players on the roster improve in the coming days, before the season runs out.
“When teams struggle, it’s not a time to point fingers,” Moore said. “It’s a time to come together and figure it out.”