Seven-plus years in, Royals GM Dayton Moore signed through 2016

Ed Zurga

Yeah, it happened over the holidays and I didn't really have the energy to think about it. Or something. But it's not really appropriate for me to let this news about the Royals pass by without any mention at all. Per Bob Dutton, erstwhile Royals beat writer:

The "process" — that oft-favored word of Royals general manager Dayton Moore — will continue for at least three more seasons.

The club announced Friday that it had reached agreement with Moore on a two-year contract extension that will extend his tenure through 2016. If he completes the deal, he will become the longest-serving general manager in franchise history.

"When Dayton’s contract was extended during the 2009 season," club president Dan Glass said in a statement released by the club, "I felt that this franchise had begun to turn the corner and that we were pointed in the proper direction.

--snip--

Moore came to the Royals after 13 years in the Atlanta organization and inherited a franchise slogging through its third 100-loss season in four years. He often implored the club’s fan base to "trust the process" through the lean years of the rebuilding plan.

"Our goal was that by 2012 and 2013 to have a core group of our players that reflected homegrown talent," he said. "We wanted to sign as many quality players long-term as possible. We’ve been fortunate to do a lot of that."

There are so, so, so, so many reasons to find this whole affair frustrating. Moore took over early in the 2006 season. Even if we give him a mulligan for that year, he's still served as Royals general manager for seven full seasons and has one winning season in the ledger. He's committed millions of dollars and hundreds of plate appearances to guys like Jeff Francoeur, Chris Getz, Willie Bloomquist, and Yuniesky Betancourt. He (or his bosses) apparently wouldn't even consider trading Joakim Soria when his value was extraordinarily high, and ultimately wound up getting nothing. Moore hired, and then rehired, a manager who seems to think on-base percentage is sabermetric claptrap. Oh, and last winter Moore traded an outstanding hitter who immediately won a Rookie of the Year Award.

So yes, Royals fans: Go ahead and be frustrated.

Just don't have any reasonable notion that if Moore suddenly disappeared, Dan Glass and his papa would hire anyone better. If the owners wanted to hire a next-gen executive to run the baseball operation, they would have done it already. What's more, there's a lot to be said for stability. Bringing on a new general manager, unless it was exactly the right guy, would probably set back the organization by a year or two while everything got rejiggered. Yes, the process has taken longer than it should have -- who gets seven years, just to finish third? -- but it does seem to be working, or have worked, at least on the hitting side of things.

And there's the rub. On the pitching side, it's been a disaster. In Moore's seven full seasons, here are the leaders in pitching victories among those drafted and signed by the club, or picked up in trades while still in the minors:

46 Luke Hochevar (5.10 ERA)
35 Brian Bannister (5.13 ERA)
14 Aaron Crow
14 Greg Holland

Bannister's been retired for a few years now. Hochevar, Crow, and Holland are all key pieces of the Royals' excellent bullpen. Which means ... yes, that's right: In seven-plus years, Dayton Moore has come up with exactly zero good starting pitchers, except for the veterans he's acquired. This is damning, considering Moore's strength was (and is) supposedly scouting and player development. Not even one?

Hey, it happens. Some teams find a lot of them, some teams find none at all, and there's a fair amount of luck involved in these things. But I don't believe "the process" ever was supposed to include "Pitchers Developed: 0". I don't believe the Royals can take the next step without finding one or (more likely) two good, cheap young starting pitchers.

They might be on the way. The club's two best prospects are probably starting pitchers Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura, and there's still some hope that Danny Duffy, who missed 2012 but bounced back to pitch effectively at three levels in 2013, will return to the rotation. So I'll say it right now: If two of those three combine for a thousand innings and a league-average ERA over the next three seasons, the Royals have a legitimate shot at winning 90 games and playing into October.

If not? It's time to begin a new process. Finally.

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