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Recently, Rany Jazayerli had the opportunity to conduct a brief
interview with Kansas City Royals General Manager Herk Robinson.
Here is the complete transcript:

RJ:
Let’s start with the obvious: the trade situation with Kevin Appier.

HR:
There’s nothing specific with Appier yet; we haven’t discussed any particular
players with any of the teams that are interested. He’s only had two starts
so far, and there’s no urgency to getting a deal done.

RJ:
Is it something you hope to have wrapped up by Opening Day?

HR:
To be perfectly honest, we might not trade him at all. We have to consider
what the offers are, and we don’t consider ourselves compelled to deal Appier
if there isn’t a fit somewhere.

RJ:
Are you looking to acquire a single top-notch prospect, a Russ Branyan for
example, or are you more interested in trading for several lesser-tier
prospects in the hopes of filling more than one of the team’s holes? Is there
a focus on acquiring players that can fill some of the franchise’s weaknesses,
like shortstop?

HR:
We’re not sure how many players we want; it depends on which players they
are, obviously; and possibly a certain pitcher or two may be what we’re
looking for. We would certainly like to acquire a shortstop, but it depends
on what the team has to offer – it may be that they simply don’t have a good
shortstop prospect, and we’ll have to look at other players.

RJ:
Have you already targetted certain players that you’re waiting for teams to
bring up, or are you willing to let other teams make offers and then sift
through them for players you want?

HR:
We’ve got several players that we have a keen interest in acquiring, but as
to their identity I obviously can’t say.

RJ:
Is Jeff King likely to be moved soon? Is there any one player on, say, the
Blue Jays or Braves that you’ve internally decided would make you willing
to trade King?

HR:
Like Appier, we don’t have anything specific that we’re looking to do with
Jeff, and while he’s available, I can’t even guarantee that he’ll be traded
at all.

RJ:
Has there been any attempt to sign Johnny Damon to a long-term contract
before his value skyrockets?

HR:
Well, we’d certainly like to sign Damon to a deal, but I’m not sure we have
the financial resources to make it happen. It isn’t a high priority at this
point, not with the team’s own financial situation still being worked out.

RJ:
Recently Ray Durham signed a four-year, twenty million dollar contract
extension with the White Sox. Since Durham and Damon are roughly comparable
players, and Durham has roughly an extra year of service time over Damon,
has there been any thought to using that deal as a guideline to signing
Damon beyond 1999?

HR:
To be honest, we haven’t even given preliminary consideration to what it
would take to sign Damon beyond this year, so no, I can’t say that there
has been any discussion at all.

RJ:
The success of the Royals teams of the late 70s and early 80s was in large
part a result of acquiring talented players who, for whatever reason, were
unable to get the opportunity to play in other organizations, guys like
John Mayberry, Amos Otis, Freddie Patek, and Hal
McRae
. Has there been any attempt to try and duplicate that philosophy
by, for example, attempting to get Daryle Ward, a fine young hitter
who is stuck behind Jeff Bagwell, from the Astros, or seeing if the
Yankees would trade D’Angelo Jimenez, an outstanding young shortstop
who is behind both Derek Jeter and Alfonzo Soriano?

HR:
I was a part of the organization when we were able to get the guys you are
talking about, like Patek and Mayberry and Larry Gura. But I don’t
think anyone could do what we did back then anymore. The game has changed,
and it wouldn’t work in today’s climate.

RJ:
Why not?

HR:
Teams now put a premium on all their top prospects, and few teams are able
to give up the talent it would take to get players like that today. You just
can’t get it done anymore.

RJ:
Finally, with the impending sale of the franchise to Miles Prentice, there
have of course been rumors that your own job security may be in a precarious
situation once the team is sold. Is there any sense of urgency on your part
to see the team succeed this year?

HR:
No, absolutely not. We’ll do what we feel is best for the ballclub, as we
always have, but I don’t ever worry about what will happen to me.


Once again, I’d like to thank Herk Robinson for taking the time to answer a
few of my questions.