The initials “GM” in front of Dayton Moore’s name no longer stand for General Manger, but “Great Moves.”
No matter what happens the rest of the season, Kansas City’s Moore should be the runaway winner for baseball’s Executive of the Year.
Moore already was in the lead pack of contenders for strengthening the Royals during the offseason. After losing stalwarts James Shields and Billy Butler, and to a lesser degree Nori Aoki, Moore moved with conviction to upgrade the talent for a team that was so close to winning the World Series last year.
Moore’s first moves were to acquire Edinson Volquez, Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios. Volquez more than likely will surpass Shields’ victory total of last year, Morales has won over Royals fans who probably have forgotten the uber-popular Butler, while Rios is still working on being an improvement over Aoki and it could be a push by season’s end.
Moore wasn’t done there. He added veteran pitchers Chris Young, Ryan Madson and Kris Medlen in case young guns Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy regressed. Young has been a savior, Madson gives the Royals a sturdy sixth-inning bridge to H-D-H while Medlen soon will be very important as he builds up his arm strength. The latter two give the Royals flexibility in that they can both start or pitch in long relief.
This week, Moore zoomed to the GM pantheon. He acquired Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto, a legitimate No. 1 who can look any top pitcher straight in the eye and not blink. And now he’s added Ben Zobrist, a jack-of-all-trades who was high in the wish list of the teams the Royals are battling for a playoff spot.
The only drawback is that Cueto and Zobrist are just rentals and figure to be playing elsewhere next year since the Royals are not a bottomless money pit. They have bankrupted themselves of young pitching, giving up five prospects in the two deals. But that’s all they are at this point, prospects, and pitchers like John Lamb and Aaron Brooks have had more than ample time to make a name for themselves. I did cringe when the Royals gave up on Sean Manaea, because I think he can be a star, he’s just had trouble staying healthy.
But the Royals know better than anybody, given their 29-year playoff void that ended last year, that there’s a small window of opportunity to grab the gold. Possessing the best record in American League and chasing down the offensively challenged St. Louis Cardinals for the best record in baseball, there isn’t an executive in the game that will say the Royals didn’t improve themselves by picking up Cueto and Zobrist. Both are pro’s pros and give the clubhouse even more professionalism, even if they’ll be gone after October.
I like Moore’s go-for-broke risks. The Royals still have a few good prospects in their farm system, though they’ve become threadbare in the pitching department. But with the pitchers they have now, they can go pitcher-heavy for at least the next two years in the draft because they have enough to get them by for now.
The Royals are the talk of baseball. Their confidence is off the charts and they are gaining national attention and new fans. Maybe ESPN will at some point figure that out and quit showing so many games with teams like the hapless Red Sox and other former high-profile teams that have crashed and burned.