Royals GM Dayton Moore says silly things, world spins on axis

USA TODAY Sports

General managers shouldn't be judged on isolated quotes. But when it comes to the Royals' Dayton Moore ...

The Royals … man, the Royals.

They could still win the AL Central, you know. The Tigers have the best record in baseball, but they’ve played four games because of the weather, give or take. The Royals proved enough last year to earn them a little patience for the year. They have most of the same talented crew back, and they also have Yordano Ventura. Sweet, sweet Yordano Ventura.

Yordano-ventura-hearts-love-royals-sexytime


He’ll tell us what to do.

But the Royals are in the news because of dunderheaded comments, which reminds me of 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, and 1995, but only because of the part where the person associated with the Royals says something that makes you think, "What is he talking about?" This year’s transgression, from general manager Dayton Moore:

"It's quite simple for us. We need to be having our best at-bats when it matters most, when runners are in scoring position, and that's not happening now."

Huh. And, as has been pointed out, that isn’t really true. With runners in scoring position, they’re hitting .241/.301/.347. With the bases empty, they’re hitting .245/.297/.356. Dave Cameron tweeted Tuesday that the Royals are seventh in baseball according to FanGraphs’ clutch rankings. And Baseball-Reference.com provides us with one more nugget:

Split G PA 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
High Lvrge 28 246 16 0 3 54 15 36 .295 .340 .409 .749
Medium Lvrge 31 423 20 3 2 23 34 67 .251 .311 .335 .646
Low Lvrge 31 492 29 3 8 36 31 75 .239 .287 .368 .655
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/7/2014.

Myth busted. Pop Rocks and soda don’t kill you, and the Royals need to hit better in every way, not just one specific way.

When it comes to silly comments like this, I think it’s important to remember two things:

1. It’s probably smart to give managers and general managers the benefit of the doubt when it comes to stray quotes

Without seeing the interview, it’s possible this quote was a crouton in a word salad. Moore might have been rambling a bit and, flustered by the Royals’ problems, said the first thing that came into his head, possibly inspired by a specific sequence of events in the last Royals game. It’s possible that, without the interview, Moore might have gone back to the offices, and asked his Deputy of Process if the Royals were really having problems in the clutch. After five seconds on Baseball-Reference.com and a "nah", Moore might have resumed his duties.

Or, perhaps even more likely, Moore was just saying what he thinks fans want to hear. You’ve never had to explain the unexplainable for days on end, for hours every day, cameras in your face and microphones at your mouth.

Why are the baseball players who are supposed to be good playing so poorly?

I don’t know.

Why are the baseball players who are supposed to be good playing so poorly?

I don’t know.

Why are the baseball players who are supposed to be good playing so poorly?

I don’t know.

Why are the baseball players who are supposed to be good playing so poorly?

LOOK, I DON’T KNOW. MAYBE THEY JUST AREN’T HAVING GOOD AT-BATS IN THE CLUTCH.

You'd probably break down, too. There are other possibilities. Maybe Moore wants to say, "Look, if (player A) didn’t party like he was Mickey Mantle back for one last day on Earth, and if (player B) would take some damned instruction and stop being so mule-headed, maybe they wouldn’t stink so bad."

Maybe he thought the worst possible thing to say was "I don’t know, man. It’s probably bad luck. It’s still early. Let’s just be patient," which is probably the right answer, other than the one where half of the lineup is staffed with guys who shouldn’t crack double-digit home run totals. If Moore claims luck, he gets pilloried by a different segment of the fan base. A much larger segment. Because if you say "The Royals can’t hit in the clutch" to a season-ticket holder, you’re much likelier to get a "Damn straight" than a "Well, according to FanGraphs …"

There might be innocuous reasons for the quote that transcend ideas of competence and philosophy.

2. The Royals ran out of benefit of the doubt years ago

Three years? Four years? For 28 or 29 of the other teams, it’s fair to assume the GM is giving silly boilerplate quotes because he doesn’t want to reveal the secret sauce. For the Royals, it’s fair to assume the secret sauce is an unopened ketchup packet in a glass of Clamato. Craig Brown at Royals Review expressed it far better, with far more passion, than I ever could.

If you won 86 games your first or second season here, fans would be turning backflips, thinking we found the front office baseball messiah. Except you took seven years to get there. In between the start of the Dayton Moore regime and last year you gave us seven years of questionable hirings. Seven years of unsound personnel moves. Seven years of player development failure. You took your time and because of this, you picked up some baggage along the way.

Indeed. All of the above in point #1 is true, but at this point, Occam's Razor is absolutely on the side of "Dammit, Royals." It's far, far too easy to picture Moore actually complaining to another executive about clutch hitting. Far, far too easy to picture him actually believing it. Far, far too easy to believe that he's concerned with the hitting approach with runners on base rather than the hitting in general.

If Walt Jocketty or Chris Antonetti made the quote, it would have filed under "give 110 percent" and "take it one day at a time" and forgotten about. As it should be. When the Royals GM makes the quote, it's remembered.

Probably as it should be. The Royals might be fine. But it takes more than a lone over-.500 season to erase the doubts built up over the last two decades.

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