Tag Archives: Alcides Escobar

Dayton Moore & the Fans

It’s amazing what winning can do to beliefs of a fan base, look no farther than the attitude of fans toward the Royals general manager Dayton Moore. On June 8, 2006 Dayton Moore accepted the position as General Manager of the Kansas City Royals. Since that time Moore has gone from savior to hatred to savior again.

At the time he got hired, he was the highest profile signing the Royals had made in years. After all, before he signed with the Royals Dayton had turned down an offer to be the GM of the Boston Red Sox. With free agent GMs, Dayton was on the top of most teams list and the Royals got him. Add to that the fact that Dayton was born in Wichita, KS and the Royals were his favorite team growing up, it was as if the prodigal son had returned to lead the Royals from the darkness. What fans and Dayton couldn’t have known at the time, was just how far down in the darkness the Royals were.

His honeymoon ended during his opening press conference when he first used his now infamous term of “the process”. Dayton always preached a process that he stated would take five to seven years before the Royals could be consistent contenders. Fans never want to hear that they won’t win for years, especially after they’ve been losing for so long. So when Dayton said it was a process that would take five to seven years, the fans started to turn on him.

Luckily Dayton didn’t let this bother him. While he tried his best to put a winner on the field in Kansas City, Dayton knew his most important job was to start winning in the minors. While many of Dayton’s early Major League moves like Gil Meche and Jose Guillen failed, he was turning the Royals into a minor league powerhouse. He turned the Royals from one of the weakest teams in Latin America and the draft into one of the strongest. Where fans were screaming at Dayton to stop being so cheap in the Majors, he was spending more money than anyone in the minors to build a farm system that could keep sustained success in the Majors.

Years went by and Dayton continued to swing and miss on moves he made for the big league club. Acquisitions like Mike Jacobs, Ryan Shealy and Coco Crisp continued to fail while minor league sluggers like Kila Ka’aihue flamed out in the bigs. Most fans were in agreement during this time that Dayton was the worst GM in baseball and that the Royals were no more than a four-A ball club for the rest of the league. But while fans were asking for his head for the poor job he was doing with the big league club, people on the inside were signing his praises for what he was doing in the minors.

Dayton had built the Royals reputation in Latin America from one of the worst to one of the best. The Royals began signing great young talent like Salvador Perez thanks to this increased attention to that market. Dayton also turned into the most fearless GM in baseball when it came to the draft. Dayton wasn’t scared to deal with big money clients of Scott Boras like Eric Hosmer. He would get top five talents in the twenties because he was willing to pay that money for young talent.

Before the 2011 season, Dayton traded Zack Grienke to the Brewers for Lorenzo Cain, Alcedes Escobar and Jake Odorizzi. Fans in Kansas City hated the move because Grienke was the only super star on the team and they viewed this as the Royals being too cheap to sign Grienke to a long term deal. What fans didn’t know at the time, and maybe Dayton didn’t even know, was that this was when Dayton’s touch turned magical.

2011 was also the year that Dayton’s buildup started seeing results in the big leagues. 2011 saw the debuts of rookies Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez. All three made instant impacts and had fans buzzing about the future of the franchise being great. Throw in the young talents of Escobar and Cain from the Grienke trade; hopes were high after that season despite finishing with 91 loses.

Before the 2012 season Dayton’s build got recognized by the public after his minor league system got voted number one by Baseball America. Not only was it voted number one though, it was deemed the best group in over a decade. With players like Will Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Lorenzo Cain had the fan base drooling over the possibilities. But 2012 was not the year many expected as the Royals once again lost over 90 games. A lot of the young talent had a sophomore slump or never made it to the big leagues leaving many fans angry and feeling lied to about this being “Our Time” as the failed slogan said.

At the end of the 2012 season many fans were calling for Dayton to be fired. Fans got tired of the process and tired of being told to wait until next year as the 90 loss seasons continued to pile up. Then Dayton made the biggest splash in franchise history. He traded the top young talent in the Royals minor league system for James Shields. Will Myers, Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery were all part of the package sent to the Tampa Bay Rays for their franchises best pitcher. This was a giant shift in philosophy for Dayton. Myers was the Minor League Player of the Year in 2012 beating out names like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Odorizzi was the top pitching prospect in the Royals organization and while Montgomery had struggled in 2012, he still had high upside. To trade all that for a pitcher the likes of Shields told the league and the fans that the Royals were done building, it was time to win.

A lot of fans weren’t optimistic though. We’d been burned too many times with players that the team said would turn the franchise around. The Royals finished 2013 with a winning record for the first time since 2003, giving Royals fans high expectations leading in to 2014. People saw 2014 as the year Dayton had promised us since he was hired in 2006 and his approval rating going into the year was high. The season started off great, but then the team hit a wall. After getting swept by the Red Sox in a four game series after the All Star break a lot of fans lost it. They were eight games back of the Tigers in the division and trending down. There was talk of firing Dayton and Yost and trading Shields. People thought their dreams were just being crushed again and couldn’t take it anymore.

But then the touch of Dayton began turning anything he touched into gold. The Royals only moves at the deadline were to get Josh Willingham and Raul Ibanez. Moves most Royals fans laughed at as pointless moves that would never help the team. But it was Ibanez who led a late season player’s only meeting which got the team thinking they were good enough to win. Then it was Willingham coming to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning in the AL Wild Card game down by one run. His single started the rally which would lead to a Royals win. Pre-season moves like Nori Aoki and Jason Vargas were keys to the teams’ run to the World Series.

Since those moves Dayton can do no wrong. He chose not to pay big money for James Shields, instead signing Edison Volquez who has been the leader of the Royals rotation in 2015. He signed Kendrys Morales to a multi-year deal replacing Billy Butler, and all he’s done is lead the team in RBIs. Even when his moves haven’t worked out, like signing Alex Rios, he found a diamond in the rough in the minors in Paulo Orlando who has been Mr. Clutch this season to pick up the slack. Then he goes out and trades for Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist at the trade deadline to show the world that the Royals are all in to win this season.

It’s been a crazy ride in KC for Dayton. Just thirteen months ago fans would have been happy to see him fired. Now he is the most loved executive in Royals history behind only the late owner Ewing Kauffman. It’s amazing to look back and see how Dayton’s dream of running his favorite team could go from the darkest nightmare to the brightest happy place in such a short time. For a guy who just a short time ago could do no right, he has reached a point where he can now do no wrong.

What to Do With Ben Zobrist?

Since being acquired in a trade from the Oakland A’s on July 28th, Ben Zobrist has played better than advertised. Ned Yost put him right into the number two spot in the batting order saying “the two-hole is made for Zobrist”. The numbers back up Yost’s statement as Zobrist is batting .345 with a .456 on-base percentage. In sixteen games he has nineteen hits, six for extra bases while also walking twelve times.

While his offense has been outstanding, he filled his super utility role as well. He’s spent most of his time substituting for Alex Gordon in left field, but he also played in many games at second and third base. He’s not a gold glove caliber defender at any position, but he is above average and has done a great job of solidifying the Royals lineup with Gordon on the DL.

Alex Gordon is set to start his minor league rehab assignment this weekend in Omaha. This means he should be ready to come off the disabled list around Labor Day. The question that Royals’ fans have been asking is what will the Royals do with Zobrist once Gordon returns? I think the answer to that question isn’t quite as simple as the fans would like it to be and will prove why Yost and general manager Dayton Moore make the big bucks.

I don’t see the Royals playing Alex Gordon every day when he comes of the DL. My guess would be he’ll get plenty of days off for the first couple weeks to make sure they aren’t rushing him back and that he’ll be 100% for the playoffs. This would mean there are still plenty of games that Zobrist would be able to start in LF. Likewise the rest of the team will be getting more rest than usual with the Royals having such a large lead so there will be opportunities for Zobrist to start at many positions leading up to the playoffs.

The real issue starts when the Royals take the field for the first game of the playoffs. For the sake of argument we will go ahead and assume everyone is healthy and ready to go as injuries could throw any plan out the door. So if everyone on the team is healthy, than there are only two obvious spots for Zobrist to land and they are second base and right field.

It is no secret that second baseman Omar Infante has been one of the worst hitters in baseball this season. He has a .216 batting average and a .232 on-base percentage, both among the league worst. It has only been getting worse as he is zero for his last twenty-eight. There is no nice way to sugar coat it, he’s as close to an automatic out as you can get in the big leagues. But while his bat is awful, he is one of the best fielding second baseman in the AL and has a great chemistry with shortstop Alcides Escobar. That is a fact that cannot be over looked as defense is a big key to the Royals success. So at second base Zobrist would be a massive upgrade with the bat, while at worst being a minor drop off in the field.

The other glaring hole in the Royals lineup is right fielder Alex Rios. Rios started the first week of the season on fire, but that didn’t last long as he was on the DL soon after for the two months following with a broken hand. Since he got off the DL, Rios has at best been inconsistent both at the plate and in the field. At the plate he expected to bring some power to the Royals lineup, this has been a failure. Rios has only two homeruns and a slugging percentage of .309 while also only batting .237. While he has shown more flashes of being a better hitter than Infante, those flashes are still few and far between. At this point in his career his defense isn’t a whole lot better. I would say he is average at best, which in this defense minded lineup does not cut it. So for right field, Zobrist would be a big improvement on offense and a nice improvement on defense.

Now if you just read those run downs real quick you would assume that the logical choice is to put Zobrist in RF where he can improve the bat and the defense. Yet there is always a catch. The catch in this case comes in the form of the Royals depth at the outfield position. Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando can both make strong arguments for deserving that starting spot in RF. Dyson is far and away the best defensive option while always being a threat at the plate with his speed. Orlando, while not as good as Dyson, has played solid defense every chance he’s had and has been one of the most clutch bats in the lineup. Since Gordon went down with his injury Dyson and Orlando have been platooning in the outfield when they can and each game it seems whichever one of them plays has been a game changer in that game.

So now that I’ve laid this all out, you’re sitting there thinking so what’s the plan? I have no idea what Yost will do. But if Yost was to ask me for my plan, I would lay it out for him. In right field I’m going with a platoon of Dyson against righties and Orlando against lefties. That will give you the best bat you can have in RF for that game while also giving you the best defense. This would mean Rios is not going to be much more than a cheerleader for me in the playoffs. Having a $9.5 million cheerleader will be a tough pill to swallow for the team, but when it comes to winning a title it has to be the best player plays. I would start Zobrist at second with Infante in my back pocket as a late inning defensive replacement if needed. That replaces your worst hitter in the lineup with one of your best and puts Zobrist at the position he’s most comfortable with.

While that is my plan, there is still forty-five games remaining and a lot can happen in that time. Injuries could change everything whether it’s Gordon not ever being himself again or someone new going down. Any player could just go cold or hot at the plate leaving new options available. It’s the decisions like these that prove the Royals can’t just sit back and coast into the playoffs. There is still lots to play for, and decisions to be made over the next forty-five games. Yost will be earning his paycheck this year for sure.

Tribe Time Now #12: Don't Judge a Defense by its Fielding Percentage

In this edition of the Tribe Time Now Podcast, Ryan (MTAF: Cleveland) is joined by Mike Brandyberry (didthetribewinlastnight.com) and Craig Brown (royalsauthority.com) to discuss the Indians, the Royals, Defense, and Yordano Ventura.

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If Choo, Cano Sign in the AL Central

Yesterday, I saw multiple reports that shook my inner Indians fan to its core.

First Buster Olney said this…

Then reports surfaced that Robinson Cano was on his way to Kansas City to sign with the Royals.

Gulp…

If you’re an Indians fan, this all hurts tremendously.

First of all, the Tigers, should they sign Shin-Soo Choo, might just be the best team in baseball. Take a gander at this lineup, should Shin Soo make his way to the Motor City.

Shin-Soo Choo
Ian Kinsler
Torii Hunter
Miguel Cabrera
Victor Martinez
Torii Hunter
Nick Castellanos
Alex Avila
Jose Iglesias

That lineup at its face value could easily take on any in the league. Meanwhile, Detroit houses baseball’s best pitching staff.

Justin Verlander
Max Scherzer
Anibal Sanchez
Doug Fister
Drew Smyly

The worst part of it all is that Dave Dombrowski seems to be on a World Series mission and will use all of the cash in the world to get there.

In other words, they’re not done yet. Not even close.

While the Tigers will certainly have the upper hand on the Indians seemingly regardless of the situation, the Tribe could at least compete with a Choo-less Tigers lineup. Once you put the former Indians star at the top of that order, who knows just how far the talent gap will grow.

All the while, Omar Vizquel has taken the job of first base coach in Detroit.

First Victor. Then Omar. Now Choo?

Detroit is slowly but surely destroying the Indians and their fan-base former player by former player.

Meanwhile, another AL Central team seems be on a mission and ready to spend some cash.

Rumors yesterday are showing that Robinson Cano may just be the newest member of the Kanas City Royals, in what would be an earth shattering development. Should that splash happen, the Royals could easily move into the second rung of the AL Central ladder and could become a legitimate World Series contender.

David Lough
Alex Gordon
Robinson Cano
Eric Hosmer
Billy Butler
Mike Moustakas
Lorenzo Cain
Salvador Perez
Alcides Escobar

Add in the top end of their pitching staff and they might be one of the most under-the-radar teams in all of baseball.

James Shields
Jeremy Guthrie
Ervin Santana
Wade Davis
Bruce Chen

First, the Tigers go out and get much better by moving Miguel Cabrera to first base, adding Ian Kinsler to the mix and potentially adding Shin-Soo Choo. Then, the Royals get the most highly sought after free agent in all of baseball.

Of course these are both hypothetical, but reported, circumstances, but in any case, can the Indians catch a break?
Sure, the Indians did get better on Wednesday by signing David Murphy to take over the everyday right field duties, but the Indians can’t compete with the suddenly big market teams in Detroit and Kansas City, should these deals go down.

The worst part is, there’s really nothing they can do about it.

The Indians don’t have the money to put a bid in on Robinson Cano. They can’t make a deal to bring back Choo. They just simply can’t make these splashes as, apparently, Detroit and Kansas City can.

This is all to say, Indians fans, that maybe last year, despite its heartbreak towards the end, was as good as its going to get. Maybe the magic that Jason Giambi, Nick Swisher and Ubaldo Jimenez brought to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario last season was as good as its going to get for a while.

The Tigers and Royals may be on the verge of taking over the American League and leaving the lowly Indians, White Sox and Twins in the dust.

Despite all of the good that Terry Francona, Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro have done for the Indians and for the city of Cleveland, it may all be for naught. The Indians, for the forseeable future, may be trapped in the dark, vast dungeon of the American League Central Division.

Is there anything they can do to get out, should Choo and Cano sign within this division?

Yes, but it would be very, very unlikely.

First of all could get out of the dungeon by getting lucky again and again as they did last season with Scott Kazmir, Ryan Raburn, Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles. If Antonetti continues to pull off moves such as those, the Indians can compete.

Even then, however, things will still be difficult.

They would still have to spend money to solidify their rotation, which is decent but needs a little help. They would also need prospects like Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Jesus Aguilar to be all that we expected and more.

Again, its not impossible, just very, very unlikely.

Other than that, just hope that these two rumors were nothing but. Hope that Choo and Cano sign with the Yankees, as that organization is a continual mess.

If you’re an Indians fan, however, just accept that should Cano and Choo sign in the Central, the new era of Indians excellence may come to a tragic and screeching halt.

All of the hope and optimism could be over with a few simple swoops of a fateful pen. Enjoy it, Tribe fans, because very soon, the fun could be over.