Moore takes over Royals in midst of dismal season
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 professional sports.
"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."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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