The Royals’ breakthrough was supposed to be in 2009. This is easy to forget now. That was the first year of the fully renovated stadium. A franchise-record payroll.
No matter how it looks now, Mike Aviles was fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting the season before. Acquisitions of Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs addressed needs. Most importantly, Zack Greinke looked every bit like a premier starting pitcher and had signed an extension to stay in what he thought finally looked like a winning organization.
Again, that’s all easy to forget now. That turned out to be what a long-time club employee called the most disappointing season in franchise history, and when you’re the Royals, that’s a high standard. They lost 97 games, including in chunks of six, eight, and 10. This was the third full season since Dayton Moore had been hired as general manager, and the first time that real heat was coming from fans and media.
David Glass responded by giving Moore a contract extension, even before the season was over.
There was symbolism in that move, both for then and the future. Glass was showing Moore and everyone else in the organization exactly where his heart and mind were. When the Royals finally, actually, had that breakthrough last season Glass, Moore and Yost often talked of being in this together. The value of patience. The trust. You might have noticed that they use the word “process” much less often, but that’s only because they’ve been beaten up with that word so much over the years.
Some franchises are tripped up when the leadership structure cracks. Without complete trust, things can go sideways. The Royals have had a lot of problems over the last eight years, but that’s never been one of them.
Anyway, I bring all of this up as Ned Yost signed a one-year extension through 2016. He says that’s all he wanted. Moore is also signed through 2016, and hasn’t made a push for anything more.
This is not how it usually goes after something like the 2014 Royals happen. Moore surely could have had an extension if he wanted. Yost surely could have had more years if he wanted.
This set off some alarms for me, so I made some calls to try to see what was going on. The answer, from multiple places, was nothing. Yost doesn’t think he wants to manage more than a few more years. Moore’s place in the organization is beyond solid. Both are comfortable, both happy, both committed to the cause. More to the point, both will work for the Royals for as long as they want.
I can’t figure out why they wouldn’t want the commitment in writing. I also can’t figure out how they won that Wild Card Game.