August 10, 2001
Push Over the Top, Part Two (of Three)Last week, I asked people to put themselves into the Johnston-Murphys of either Allard Baird or David Glass, prior to the trades of Jermaine Dye and Rey Sanchez, and come up with a plan of action for the Kansas City Royals. I had no idea of the scope of solutions from which people would choose to addressing the problem. Most people took up the tactical gauntlet, and broke things down on a move-by-move basis. One particularly creative reader (whom I hope I never cross) suggested staking out the Atlanta Gold Club for photo-ops, then using those as bargaining leverage to sign married players at free-agent rates well below market value.
I want to thank everyone who spent the time and effort to create and share this material. Some people really spent a lot of time carefully considering actions--either how exactly Allard Baird should be exiled/jailed/sterilized, or how an organization like the Royals should deal with what are likely to be persistent challenges. More than 500 people sent in plans of one sort or another. Thanks, and I'm sorry if I didn't have time to respond privately.
Anyway, without further commentary from yours truly, here are some of the ideas put forth by our Shadow GM Readership.
"Muser has failed to demonstrate an understanding of why baseball teams win. He pays excessive attention to the few things he did well as a player, without regard to their significance in terms of their impact on winning. A new manager must understand that offense is more important than defense, and that great offenses win games by scoring runs, not just by hitting the ball to the right side to advance the runner to third base or by not striking out."
"The Royals are going to need a manager that can continue to develop young players once they get to the majors. They need to get great seasons out of young players, because no matter what, most of the players will be too expensive to keep in years five and beyond."
The GM's Chair
"Fire Allard Baird. We don't need to go down the list of deals and acquisitions too far to prove this point. In fact, any list that includes the name 'Donnie Sadler' needs no further elaboration. The Royals need to win."
"We know for sure that Kansas City is financially disadvantaged, and is going to stay that way. We know for almost sure that the CBA is going to change, probably a lot, over the next 30 years. So we need a GM who's creative, flexible, and understands business as well as baseball."
Organization, Culture, and Operation
"The financial constraints the Royals face are in large part a result of the inability to turn talented prospects into valuable major-league players. The first step, therefore, has to be an overhaul of the team's minor-league system, brining in quality instructors from organizations more sucessful than the Royals at scoring runs and preventing them from being scored (Oakland, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees...). Such an overhaul will likely not be cheap, but it's a lot less expensive than trying to buy your way into contention with free agents. Additionally, a strong farm system will provide resources down the road which can be translated into hole-filling solutions when the core of team is ready to contend."
"Interview all minor-league staff and instructors, and check on how their charges have done lately. Give pink slips to those who don't emphasize plate discipline for hitters, and throwing strikes for pitchers. Fire any pitching coach who automatically distrusts a knuckleballer or submariner--they need to be evaluated on the same criteria as anyone else. A sick organizational tree needs to be fixed at the roots."
Fun Tactics and Quotes (May be offensive to our more sensitive readers)
"Absolutely, positively, don't sign guys like Jason Grimsley, Paul Byrd, or Raul Ibanez to multi-year contracts. Look at how you found these guys, and then ask yourself whether you really need to lock up players like this or if maybe you could replace them in the same way you found them in the first place. Then look at the multi-year deal you gave to David McCarty if you need any more convincing."
"These suggestions are dedicated to the Great D'Angelo 'Supa' Star' Jimenez and the correlating revival occurring within the Padres organization. You go, Diego! Capturing the NL West in 2002 with style."
"Are you sure we can't start six weeks ago and re-do their draft? I mean, if you 'can't develop young athletes into major-league talent' then you should be drafting differently instead of picking up more high-school-aged 100 mph pitchers and defensive backs."
"Kansas City, in conjunction with the respectable McDonald's franchise, would launch a corporate promotional contest humorously titled 'Will Walk for Food.' One contestant, selected randomly from a mailbag, would elect three Royals position players. If all three managed to walk in a game, said contestant would win 40 dollars' worth of McDonald's food. This seemingly inane promotion would result in a societal mobilization for higher OBPs. Outliers of the Gregg Zaun Fan Club would be banished from the fair city of Kansas."
"Get Caller ID. If the call's from Oakland, don't pick up the phone."
And, last but not least, for our less sensitive, more results-oriented readers:
"1) Arrange a twin suicide for Allard Baird and Tony Muser.
See ya next week.
Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.