It’s been less than three years since Kansas City shut down for a day to gather together and celebrate the Royals’ World Series title.
The 2015 championship flag flies at Kauffman Stadium, of course, but the team on the field this season could make the wrong kind of history.
Sunday’s loss to the Yankees dropped the Royals’ record to 32-73 and they are on pace to lose 113 games, which would shatter the club’s previous low-water mark of 106 defeats.
The lack of winning has been hard on fans, and the Royals’ attendance this year could drop by as much as 1 million from 2015.
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The fans aren’t alone. Royals general manager Dayton Moore also can’t stomach the losing.
Speaking Monday on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Moore was asked about trade rumors regarding starting pitcher Danny Duffy and second baseman/outfielder Whit Merrifield. Moore said he wasn’t close to moving either player in part because he and owner David Glass want the Royals to be more competitive the next two seasons.
“I’m embarrassed the way our major-league team has performed. OK? I didn’t necessarily expect us to be in the playoffs this year, but I didn’t expect us to be on pace to lose 100-plus games,” Moore said. “That’s embarrassing to me personally, it’s embarrassing to our organization. Mr. Glass doesn’t expect that, either, and so we’ve got to do a better job of that. ...
“(Former Tigers general manager) Bill Lajoie told me this a long time ago: major-league players aren’t paid to play, they’re paid to win. And so it’s our responsibility to get players on this major-league team that understand that and they have to go out and compete.”
Moore noted the competitive unbalance in the American League, where seven of the 15 teams are below .500 and just six teams are fighting for five playoff spots. That makes the Royals’ struggles that much worse.
“And that was solidified about a month ago, so we’ve got to go out and compete every night,” Moore said.
Moore has previously targeted 2021 for when the Royals likely could push for the playoffs, but he has steadfastly refused to purposefully tank. Despite that, the Royals’ record this season is indicative of a team not trying to win.
But Moore clearly doesn’t want triple-digit-loss seasons. The Royals drafted a cadre of college pitchers and traded Mike Moustakas for players who could help the team sooner rather than later.
That would be the case if another team came calling for Duffy or Merrifield after the season.
“If we end up moving any of our players like that, that we have under control that are of value to us,” Moore said, “it’ll be something we look at in the offseason and how can we get back major-league talent to help us win more games in 2019 and 2020.”
You can listen to a clip of the interview here.