“That’s it,” he says. “We’re at a point now where you will never, ever hear me say again that we have young players who are improving. You will never, ever hear me say again that we are rebuilding. That stuff is over. I’m sick of all that.
“We’re not a young team anymore. We’re not an improving team anymore. There are no more excuses. It’s not like we made a lot of excuses before, but I’m sick of all that. It’s time now.”
So far, this attitude has manifested itself in non-player changes, such as the firing of scouting director Deric Ladnier, hitting coach Mike Barnett ("'We have to understand the importance of on-base percentage,' Moore says, and he repeats those words — 'on-base percentage' — about 29 times during the interview") and third-base coach Luis Silverio. There's little room for free agents -- not with Gil Meche and Jose Guillen making $23 million next year, about half the payroll -- and it's unlikely we'll get any blockbuster trades, since the best tradeable parts -- Zack Greinke, Joakim Soria -- are players nearing primes that may vault them to superstar status.
Here's an interesting quote, the kicker:
“I just can’t predict what kind of opportunities we’re going to have,” he says. “All I can tell you is that there’s a lot more urgency going forward. We’re going to create as many options as we can. We’re going to do everything we can to make changes. There’s a lot of room for us to get better. And right now, that’s all that matters. We have to get better.”
There's a lot of room for us to get better is both the most obvious and most revealing quote in the article. Precisely because there is a lot of room for improvement, one has to wonder whether improving just six games from 2007, in a season when the division was arguably its weakest in years, was enough. As we move forward, we have to expect the rate of positive change to level out as the team presses up against external factors. The win-total graph as plotted against time will not slope upwards indefinitely, and certainly not at the derivative rate of one. I think this is what Dayton Moore was getting at: it would have been so much more comforting if the team could have jumped to 82 wins this year. As is, we're left with the unsettling idea that this rebuilding process -- or are we not to call it that again, ever? -- is still two years, at least, from fruition. Maybe Moore understands -- sees as plainly as anyone -- that another six-win improvement won't make the Royals relevant, thus the heavy and urgent rhetoric. I hope so, because this I know: abandoning plans is not what we need.
A few days after speaking with Poz, Moore spoke with Dick Kaegel of MLB.com:
"We're going to try to upgrade every place on the field. That's what we're going to have to do," he said. "Realistically, you're not going to change out 25 players, but we've got to develop a mind-set where we've got to upgrade every place on the diamond."
Nothing terribly revealing in the article, but the desire to improve -- hastily -- is apparent. In the coming winter months, it'll be interesting to see how that desire manifests itself.