*Holding Pattern: Maybe he was just wiped out from the hectic and stressful days of fruitless efforts to fortify his team for the stretch run.
But when I listened back to the audio of Royals’ general manager Dayton Moore’s news conference Thursday, I thought he sounded deflated.
That’s a lot different than being content, as some contend he is.
This team had to get some muscle, and he couldn’t solve the way to get it done even as first-place Detroit improved itself by acquiring pitcher David Price.
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Even if that all makes you furious with Moore, it can’t frustrate anyone more than him.
After all, he’s the one charged with finding a way to make this team better … especially when it needs it most.
Instead, he was left gridlocked in the maze of balancing an urgent present, cultivating the future, financial constraints and limited major-league talent he was willing to yield in a market that was unusually predicated on proven players over prospects.
But here’s the main reason I believe Moore when he says the Royals exhausted every avenue they could: Because it’s hard to believe he has deep conviction that this team is good enough as is.
Maybe I’m reading too much into his words and tone Thursday, but he seemed to project more a sense of hope than belief.
"They haven’t played their best baseball yet, collectively," he said, flatly. "So that’s what we have to count on at the end of the day, and we believe it will happen."
I’m not suggesting he’s not truly hopeful, and I don’t rule anything out in the day-to-day ups and downs of "As The Royals Turn."
This team absolutely has a playoff shot, but it needed more to enhance its chances.
Criticize Moore all you want for that, of course, but it wasn’t because of passivity.
*Clubhouse Confidential: Considering he’s not likely to be back next year because his price will balloon, perhaps staff ace James Shields was dangled in a trade. Or perhaps not.
But the Royals would have had a lot to consider before parting with Shields. And that goes beyond his 9-6 record and 3.50 ERA.
The sudden disappearance of his charisma and unifying personality in a leadership-challenged clubhouse would leave a void of another sort, to the point of potentially being disruptive.
It’s one thing to contend with him probably making his exit after the season, another to mess in mid-season with the focal point of a team on the edge of a breakthrough.
That doesn’t mean he should have been considered untouchable, just that his value to the Royals for the rest of this season is more than meets the eye.
*Agents Of Shields: Beyond being the instigator of the Royals’ post-victory celebration routine, another example of Shields’ reach is his impact on everyone from emerging pitcher Danny Duffy to third baseman Mike Moustakas.
In part because of some advice from Shields about how to harness his emotions, Duffy has been the Royals’ best starter for nearly two months.
Shields also has been a mentor to Moustakas, who was sent down to Class AAA Omaha earlier this season and yet labors.
But Moustakas has flashed his power again, leading the team in home runs with 13, and has an entirely different bearing now. Shields has been part of that, too.
Shields has known Moustakas for more than a decade, first meeting him when Shields was a volunteer coach for a youth travel team.
As Moustakas was spiraling toward Omaha, Shields was a frequent visitor at his locker across the room.
He’s continued to seek him out to just chat and to encourage him, and he sees in him now a player who at least is himself again.
"I’m a big believer that you’ve got to learn from your failures and that you’ve got to fail (first) to succeed," Shields said.
*Special K: Whatever issues fans may have with the Royals standing pat isn’t being reflected at the gate. With more than 24,000 on hand Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals slightly improved on their season average draw of 23,134. They are on pace for their highest single-season attendance total since 1993.
*Nowhere Man: Anyone got anything on the whereabouts of Sean McGrath? Anything at all?