“Never lose sight of winning on the field at the major-league level.”
That is advice he will never forget, the Kansas City Royals’ General Manager Dayton Moore told Up to Date's Steve Kraske on Wednesday.
Yes, building a strong farm system is important, but if your team doesn't win enough on the field then the fans will lose hope. The advice came in a call years ago from John Schuerholz, Moore’s mentor when he was with the Atlanta Braves and general manager of the Kansas City Royals when they won the World Series in 1985.
The Royals have seen some dark times over the last eight and a half years, but last season’s postseason run, which left Kansas City just 90 feet from tying Game 7 of the World Series, earned Moore the trust and enthusiasm of Royals fans.
Moore recently released a book that describes how he instilled a winning attitude in a team that had made losing its culture.
Highlights from his interview with Kraske:
On whether he was approached by the Atlanta Braves at the end of the 2014 regular season as the Braves looked for a new general manager:
"You know, we were so focused on what were doing here Kansas City and John (Schuerholz) really respected that. This is where we wanted to be and this is where our family wanted to be. There was no formal permission asked of our interest level. We were so focused on what we had to do here and the timing just wasn't right. Maybe if I would have pursued it they might have had some interest. ... This community has been so faithful to us, the ownership has been so faithful to us ... our family is thriving and I couldn’t imagine being in any other place than here in Kansas City."
On injuries of key players at the start of the season:
"You need to stay healthy. The team that's going to win this year is going to stay healthy. But, fortunately we’ve had some depth.... We’re not a push-button club. It’s not necessarily the most talented team in baseball, but they cover for one another and they care and they’re a great team. I think potentially they have a chance to be the most talented team in baseball as they continue to progress and improve. Very few, if any, of our players has reached the ceiling of their talent."
On the idea that the Royals have a tendency to over-celebrate and be overly emotional:
"[Other teams]Probably [don't like it], but it permeates throughout professional sports, and Major League Baseball has always been kind of conservative. This is an ESPN generation, these guys grew up watching highlights. When we grew up, we watched Monday night baseball, Saturday game of the week, or we had to go to a ballpark — we didn't have all the highlights. These kids grow up with all the emotion and they see it and that’s what they know. It's throughout Major League Baseball, it's not just the Kansas City Royals.... These guys are the greatest competitors in the world for our sport. Emotions are going to run high at times and it’s going to be intense, and it should be."
On Royals’ players frequently being hit by pitches:
"Truthfully, there’s only been about four that I think were intentional. Teams are trying to pitch us inside. You’ve got to pitch inside if you’re going to win, and the fact that a lot of pitchers don’t spend a lot of time practicing the art of pitching inside means they miss a little bit and guys get hit.
"I don't want to see our guys get hit. Obviously, Alcides Escobar is on the DL (disabled list) and Alex Rios is on the DL, so it is a concern. But it’s part of the game. We’re not going to make excuses for it, we’re going to manage it, get better, get these guys back healthy and go out and continue to play."