KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dayton Moore took over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday and began the daunting task of making a winner out of baseball's biggest loser.
The 39-year-old protege of John Schuerholz in Atlanta
acknowledged there's no way he'll be an overnight success in Kansas City. The talent-impoverished Royals have not reached the
postseason since 1985 and this year appear to be on pace to go down as one of the worst teams in history.
"This is a great challenge. This is one that I'm looking
forward to," the Royals' new general manager said in a
tension-filled news conference.
"As you dive into it, it takes time. I'm not going to sit here
and say we're going to do X, Y and Z, because that would be
inappropriate and irrational."
Moore was hired eight days earlier, but not allowed to begin his job until after the two-day draft that ended Wednesday. He's in charge of a franchise that's on pace to lose at least 100 games for the fourth time in five years and was 14-43 going into Thursday night. At that rate, the Royals could erase the New York Mets'
major league record of 120 losses in a season.
But avoiding the stigma of being the worst team in history will
not prompt any short-term personnel moves that might hamper his
strategy for long-term growth, Moore said.
"We're not going to make decisions, quick fixes, just to avoid
some embarrassing record or whatever. We're not going to back off
from what our focus is."
That focus, he said repeatedly, will be to scout, draft and
develop quality players with the same approach and philosophy that
made Schuerholz's Braves one of the most admired operations in
"The only way we're going to do it is through great scouting
and great player development," Moore said.
"We're trying to do something for the long haul. We're trying
to do something that 15, 20, 25 years from now people are going to
look at the Kansas City Royals as a model franchise," he said.
"To do that, we're going to have the very best scouting people
that are committed to signing the right type of players."
A tense and uncomfortable tone was set at the outset when one
questioner grilled owner David Glass about why he allowed former
general manager Allard Baird to hang in limbo for almost a month
after saying significant changes would soon be made.
Glass, who has developed a sour relationship with much of the
media since buying the team in 2000, said when he first promised
big changes, he hadn't necessarily intended to fire Baird.
"It wasn't until late in the game that I came to the conclusion
that we had to change the general manager, so you're completely
wrong in your assessment," he said.
Dan Glass, the owner's son, also has been criticized for
meddling with Baird's decisions and overruling trades in his
position as team president, a charge both father and son deny. Dan
Glass said he would not change anything that he's been doing.
"I'm not changing one bit," he said.
Moore repeated what he had said last week and insisted he was
comfortable with the amount of autonomy he's been given.
"Understand this: The plan is to have the very best baseball
people and work hard every day," Moore said. "If we commit to
that and stay focused on that goal, we'll begin to turn everything
around and get moving in the right direction."
If he does not make wholesale changes in every aspect of the
club, long-suffering fans are certain to be disappointed.
"Every decision that I ultimately make will be what's best for
the Kansas City Royals," Moore said.
"That's what it's all about, not about personal ego, not about
what anybody else believes is the right way to do things. It's
going to be what we believe as baseball people is the best course
of action for the Kansas City Royals."
One of Moore's first duties will be evaluating manager Buddy
Bell, who has one year left on his contract and has mostly escaped
fan anger that has been directed toward Baird and the Glasses.
"Buddy and I met today. It was obviously a private conversation
between Buddy and myself," Moore said. "But Buddy is a wonderful
baseball man and a man of expertise. I'm going to enjoy getting to
know him and us getting to know each other."