Eight to 10 years is longer than most marriages in the United States last. Seriously. This is a fact. You can look it up. Eight to 10 years is longer than you’re likely to own your car. It’s longer than it took to build the Empire State Building, fight the Iraq war and remake American transportation with the Works Progress Administration.
Know what else doesn’t last eight to 10 years?
A baseball team’s general manager if he doesn’t win.
And Dayton Moore isn’t winning.
Of all the frustrations following North America’s worst major professional sports franchise of the last 25 years, one of the most needless and infuriating is this false narrative about how long it takes to win.
Moore is at it again, promoting a talking point that seemed inconsequential when he arrived, then ambiguous when he’d been here a few years, but is now delusional. He’s been on the job more than seven years.
Losing is no longer a problem he inherited. It’s one he’s prolonging.
Moore changed the arithmetic when he traded Wil Myers (and others) for James Shields (and Wade Davis). The fan base is running out of patience, and rightfully so. This team should be at or above .500 — at minimum. They’re running out of time.
We’ve heard enough about the process. Time to see some progress.
Look, we all understand what Moore is doing here. He’s a human being. He took over a pathetic organization and helped improve it. He wants to see this through, and if you do the math — three or four years for a player to make it through the minors, two to five more to impact the big leagues, then another year or two for support — it makes sense. In a parallel universe, what he’s saying is plausible. Logical. Defensible.
In this universe — the one where the Royals are on their third record payroll and have lost an average of 92 games in Moore’s six full seasons in charge — a continued plea for patience after seven years on the job is plain silly.
Actually, it’d be better for everyone if he stopped measuring these things in years. This is about now, not next year or two years from now or any other time. Moore won’t be around if the Royals don’t win now.
The Pirates have won more games while spending less money with a general manager who took over a similarly inept franchise a year after Moore started in Kansas City.
Royals leadership has always held the Twins of the early 2000s as their model. Every situation in baseball is different, but all things considered — market size, starting point, talent pool — it’s a good comparison. The Twins lost big in each of Terry Ryan’s first six years as GM, then won 85 games in year seven, and then three straight division titles starting in year eight.
The Indians won the American League Central in Moore’s first full season in Kansas City, bottomed out two years ago, and are already
above the Royals in the standings.
Privately, the Royals can blame being in the American League all they want, but the Orioles and Rays have each made the playoffs out of baseball’s toughest division with payrolls either comparable or lower than the Royals. The Rays lost 101 games the year Moore arrived in Kansas City and made the playoffs in the third season of the new front office.
Money can’t continue to be an excuse, either. The Royals don’t have the revenue to cover mistakes, but the A’s have won 68 more games (entering Saturday) while spending $25 million less on big-league payroll. The Rays have spent more than $80 million less. The Pirates have spent $115 million less. Overall, in the six full seasons Moore has been in Kansas City, eight franchises have made 12 playoff appearances with payrolls lower than the Royals are spending this year.
Yes, the Royals’ farm system was neglected and an industry joke and in desperate need of a massive overhaul. Moore — with an increased investment from owner David Glass — will always get credit for guiding that makeover. He has also done well in signing every worthy young player to a long-term contract.
But he doesn’t get a lifetime achievement award for that.
His job is to win games, not just build a good farm system.
You don’t give a chef credit for using the best ingredients if the meal stinks.
Besides, of all the prospects that generated the excitement around the Royals’ farm system, Eric Hosmer is the only position player who’s produced above the league average. Danny Duffy is the only pitching prospect who has started a big-league game for the Royals.
Look, assuming the Pirates aren’t in for an epic collapse, every team in baseball will have gone .500 at least once since Moore’s first full season in Kansas City. If the Nationals and Orioles keep their current pace, all but two teams will have done it twice.
Of the seven other teams that haven’t made the playoffs since Moore’s first full season, two made it the previous year (Padres, Mets), one has a good chance this year (Pirates), one has had four winning seasons (Blue Jays), and the three others (Mariners, Marlins and Astros) have each changed general managers.
The Royals and Kansas City have been exceedingly fair to Moore. When the job came open, some in baseball told him not to take it because there was little chance of winning soon and GMs who don’t win soon are often fired. But if Moore walked into a decrepit farm system, he also inherited a fan base that largely understood this was no overnight fix.
Reasonable people don’t hold the first five or so years of major-league results against Moore, just as reasonable people understand that Baseball America’s love and the promise of a better tomorrow can’t last forever without results at the big-league level.
Moore can talk about needing 10 years. But it’s delusional to think he will or should get that long without winning soon.
And right now, Moore is in charge of a big-league team that’s underachieving in a critical season.