No sense doubting Moore, Royals' approach
Defending champs quiet, not tied to big names this offseason
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It really doesn't matter what others may think. The Kansas City Royals are happy with what they are.
They did, after all, take the World Series to seven games before losing to the Giants two years ago, and this past October, it only took them five games to knock off the Mets and claim the second World Series in franchise history, the first in 30 years.
Well, general manager Dayton Moore was selected the Esurance MLB Award winner for Executive of the Year in a process that equally weighs in votes from fans, media, front-office officials, former players and The Society of American Baseball Research (SABR).
"I'm proud of what it represents for our ownership, our city, our fans and our group,'' Moore said.
Not everybody has joined the ranks of believers, however.
A year ago, coming off their first postseason appearance in 29 years, the analytical folks projected the Royals would win 74 games in 2015. And now, one year and a World Series championship later, the early assessments from the computer printouts is "pretty much the same.''
Not that Moore cares.
"I don't pay attention to it," he said. "I know if we don't play well in all phases of the game, we are going to lose. That's the way the team is built. I don't know how many wins it is going to take to win the division or be the first Wild Card or second Wild Card. I can't pay attention [to victory projections].
"We just have to perform well."
Lately, the Royals have certainly done that. They not only have won an American League-best 184 games the past two regular seasons, but they are 22-9 in the postseason.
OK, right-hander Johnny Cueto, a late July addition who had two dominant postseason efforts; second baseman Ben Zobrist, another in-season reinforcement who became a postseason favorite; and left fielder Alex Gordon, the cornerstone for the construction of this franchise, are free agents. Zobrist is headed to the Cubs. There is little pretense that Cueto could return, and only some hope that Gordon might come back in light of his ties to a franchise that he grew up in Omaha, Neb., rooting for Kansas City.
"He has been a huge contributor on and off the field," Moore said. "We will stay open minded."
But the Royals won't be sidetracked. They showed that a year ago when their free-agent losses included the ace of the rotation, James Shields, and a Royals original, first baseman/DH Billy Butler.
They still, however, were able to put the pieces back together and build off a Wild Card celebration in 2014 into an AL Central title and World Series championship celebration in '15.
Moore made a series of roster additions that his fans called "under-the-radar additions," and cynics labeled as "underwhelming.'' By season's end, however, Kansas City had provided an emphatic answer to any question that was raised.
No reason to doubt the ability of Moore and Co. to do it again.
The Royals aren't about the "wow" factor. They are about finding guys who work together to produce a product that is bigger than the sum of the parts.
Think about it. They won a division and World Series in 2015, but:
• Ned Yost was only sixth in AL Manager of the Year Award voting.
• Lorenzo Cain, who finished third in the AL MVP Award voting but didn't get any first-place votes, was the only Kansas City player among the top 15 players in AL MVP Award voting.
They still enjoyed the final celebration of the 2015 season, popping champagne after needing only five games to knock off the National League champion Mets in the World Series.
"We look for players who fit in terms of our clubhouse and community," Moore said.
Who cares if they don't fit the MVP Award or Cy Young Award profile?
The Royals play the game a little differently than the rest. They have a bullpen that is designed to lock down the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, taking pressure off the rotation, and they have a lineup that is far from a one-man show. Kansas City had five regulars who hit better than .270, led by Cain (.307). The Royals had five players with 70 or more RBIs, six in double figures in home runs and six who had a slugging percentage of .426 or better.
The numbers may not compute to an optimistic projection for what lies ahead. The results, however, have been worthy of celebration.
There's no sense doubting the approach of Moore and the Royals now.