Moore: 'It's not OK to accept losing'
KC GM talks strong finish, Ned Yost, moving Duffy or Kennedy to bullpen in end-of-year press conference
KANSAS CITY -- Royals general manager Dayton Moore held his end-of-the-season press conference Thursday at Kauffman Stadium, and he covered a variety of subjects, including considering Danny Duffy and Ian Kennedy for the bullpen, the reason behind wanting Ned Yost as his manager and the discussion of the Royals' previous interest in signing Luke Heimlich.
But the biggest takeaway for Royals fans was Moore's belief that he feels better going into the 2019 season than he did in 2018.
Here's a sampling of Moore's conversation with the media. There will be more to come:
On the Royals' strong finish with their young players, that included a 15-13 September:
Moore: "What jumpstarted the rebuild is when we stopped talking about the rebuild. When you say 'rebuild,' it creates the mindset or it builds in that it's OK to lose ballgames. Major League players are paid to win baseball games. ... I feel better going into the 2019 season. One of the things that changed is we stopped talking about the rebuild. It's not OK to accept losing. You have to transition to compete and then transition to winning."
On if the Royals would consider transitioning Duffy or Kennedy to the bullpen in 2019:
Moore: "We'll see. Ned [Yost], [pitching coach] Cal [Eldred], JJ [Picollo, vice president and assistant GM of player personnel], Scott [Sharp, vice president and assistant GM] and Rene [Francisco, vice president and assistant GM of Major League and international operations] and others have spoken about that. We certainly want to break camp with the best 12 or 13 pitchers we have and expect them to be in roles that maybe they didn't expect to begin when the season began. We have to be open-minded. Whenever you're pitching in the Major Leagues as a young player, regardless of the role, you're gaining experience that will help you in the future. And ultimately, it will make you a better pitcher. But the roles are defined by how you perform.
"We'll see. I don't think we would script it out that way [moving Duffy and Kennedy in the bullpen]. We wouldn't go into Spring Training and pull the rip cord and abandon them as starters. But if somebody beats them out and they're more effective in that middle- or late-inning role, or as a closer, we'll see. That was the debate we had with Joakim Soria. He was a starter, and we took him as a Rule 5 starter, and he had great success as a back-end reliever and eventually a closer. Then we had the debate of him as a starter. But his most dominant role was as a reliever in the back end. He had three or four pitches, just like Wade Davis. Wade was clearly more dominant as a back-end reliever or closer. We just have to look at the pitchers to put them in a role that is the most dominant and put us in a championship level."
On Yost coming back as manager:
Moore: "First of all, I really enjoying working with Ned. He understands and has great respect for our organization and we have great respect for him. I enjoy that relationship. I also believe the harmony between general manager and manager is very important. Ned and I share a lot of the same beliefs on how you build a team and maintain an organization and what it takes to win, and ultimately win a championship."
On if the Royals had any more interest in signing Oregon State left-hander Luke Heimlich, the NCAA college pitcher of the year in 2018 who was convicted of sexually molesting his niece when he was 15. The Royals showed interest in signing him last summer and he remains unsigned:
Moore: "I'm not going to go there with that. That whole debate that dominated the news cycle -- not only in Kansas City but in the country ... we simply weren't going to let the world kick the kid knowing what we knew about the kid. But I'm not going to get into any specifics about it other than to say this: We're always investigating, always researching, always analyzing players. Do we believe in him as a pitcher and a person? Dayton Moore does."