Results tagged ‘ Dayton Moore ’
The Royals landed another piece to the puzzle on Wednesday, acquiring center fielder Coco Crisp from the Boston Red Sox for right-handed pitcher Ramon Ramirez.
Crisp, 29, batted .283 with seven home runs, 41 RBI, and 20 stolen bases in 2008. He was a member of Boston’s 2007 World Series championship team. Dayton Moore will be speaking with the media shortly and Coco will take part in a teleconference later this afternoon. Check back later for a wrap up of the press conferences.
Yesterday we gave you a piece of the conversation held at the Crosstown Station between General Manager Dayton Moore, manager Trey Hillman, and former players Al Fitzmorris and Willie Wilson. Today we’ll bring you the rest of what was said during the final State Farm Legends Luncheon. For more information on the luncheons please visit www.thebestofbuck.com. The Luncheons are in honor of Buck O’Neil and have supported the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (www.nlbm.com) for nine years.
Part one of the Luncheon recap yesterday focused heavily on Moore and building the Club’s minor league system. Wilson, as a one-time Royals farmhand, put in his two cents about how to build the club as well.
Today, Around the Horn wants to focus on what Hillman had to say about his first year as a manger. We’ll preface Hillman’s comments by saying that after the conversation between the four men on stage finished, the audience was allowed to ask questions. One woman asked both Hillman and Moore what their best and worst decisions were since joining the Royals. Moore told the crowd his greatest baseball decision to this point was the hiring of Trey Hillman to manage the Royals.
Moore fells so strongly that he has the right man he barely hesitated before responding. He sees in Hillman a desire and work ethic fit for the job. Two examples of that are Hillman’s seemingly tireless work while in spring training. Hillman would be on the back fields working with the minor league players long after the Major Leaguers had showered and left the complex. No one asked Hillman to do it, he just did.
In the same manner, he was at the Royals pre-draft workout hitting fungos to prospects who weren’t even in the organization yet. Moore said these are the types of things no other manager in the Majors is doing but they make the young players want to play for Hillman. If that kind of environment can be created, then a pride and desire to wear the Royal uniform will be created. Something Around the Horn wrote about yesterday in talking about strengthen the farm system.
Needless to say the fan was pleased and said she truly believes that Hillman and Moore are the best people in baseball today to take on the job of building a champion in Kansas City.
When Hillman took the job, the first thing he did – which was his answer for his best decision – was to start talking to players but also to start raising the expectations. Hillman said he was wearing out his cell phone while he was still in Japan talking to people in the organization from players to publicity folks to the baseball minds. He did say not to mention this fact to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, his club last season in Japan. So keep that on the down-low.
The expectation of the 2008 Royals was to win the World Series. That was Hillman’s best decision. He told people before the season, “If you aren’t aiming for a championship, you can’t win one.” He also knew that 2008 was going to be a season where a lot of questions needed to be answered.
Since Moore’s arrival, the team needed to address some issues like adding a front-line starter and a slugger to the lineup. Moore has done both of those things with Gil Meche, who was considered a middle-tier free agent when he signed, and Jose Guillen, who has come with some controversy but is an impact to the lineup. These players believe in what’s going on in Kansas City and want to win, which is where Hillman is coming from. He wants to win.
This season hasn’t been the easiest. Hillman said probably one of his other decisions that could go either way was not to use Joakim Soria during the 12-game losing streak. Using the Royals All-Star may have won that game, but the what-ifs can go both ways. Hillman is content to know that Soria is healthy and still pitching at an extremely high level. Had he been used on short rest during the streak, who knows what may have happened.
For the first-year manager, Soria is a bright spot. He heard so much good about the closer during spring training but didn’t see it. Soria didn’t pitch like an All-Star in the spring. But he turned it on once the season started. Hillman said he was amazed that he had 39 (now 40) saves on a team that had less than 70 wins.
Hillman was also impressed with Mike Aviles. He told Moore that Aviles would make an impact on this ball club during the spring. However, Hillman didn’t think the rookie would make this much of a difference to the 2008 team. Likewise with Ryan Shealy. During their demotion meetings, both players were somewhat upset but quickly turned around their feelings to a desire to work and get better.
Another question and answer was Zack Greinke. They wanted to see him stay healthy and stay consistent in the rotation for a full year. Greinke has matured and blossomed this season. Hillman said he’s become a pitcher and not just a thrower. One of the key’s for Greinke (who starts today) is to pitch around 91-92 mph and keep his 96-97 mph heater in his back pocket to break out every once in a while and baffle a hitter. Greinke has done that and so much more. He has become a student of the game.
Fitzmorris said that he and the pitchers on his teams were constantly talking to hitting coach Charlie Lau. They wanted to know how hitters thought about hitting. Hillman said this team is becoming students of the game in the same manner. He hopes that the inefficiency of the starters comes as a bit of a “slap in the face” and spurs them to work more. Look at what Kyle Davies accomplished two nights ago. That is a perfect example. Hillman said that if Davies can reproduce 75 percent of what he did on Tuesday he will be a solid performer. True, its one start and this late season surge is in September. But Hillman likes to live by a saying he got from Moore.
“Believe in what you see and not what you hear,” Hillman said.
For starters, congratulations to Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki. He received a warm ovation from the Kauffman crowd when he collected his 200th hit of the season last night. With the hit, Suzuki tied a Major League record and broke the American League record by recorded eight straight seasons with at least 200 hits. He broke Wade Boggs’ A.L. mark of seven (1983-89) and tied Wee Willie Keeler (1894-1901)…Jose Guillen and Alberto Callaspo have career high hitting streaks going at 14 games and 11 games, respectively…Ryan Shealy homered for the second straight night, the second time he’s accomplished the feat this season (third in his career)…The Royals are riding a season-high six-game winning streak and have 11 homers during the streak…Joakim Soria is one of three Royals pitchers to record a 40 save season and currently has the fourth best season in team history behind Jeff Montgomery’s 45 in 1993 and Dan Quisenberry’s 45 in 1983 and 44 in 1984.
Today’s Official Game Notes.
Around the Horn got a treat today with the final State Farm Legends Luncheon of the season. General Manager Dayton Moore and manager Trey Hillman chatted with former Royals Al Fitzmorris and Willie Wilson for a few hours in downtown Kansas City and we got to listen.
For today, we’re going to give you a taste of what went on during the event.
If you haven’t been to one of these, we here at ATH strongly recommend them. Wilson and Fitzmorris serve as the host and talk to guests who are connected to Kansas City baseball or even players and coaches who represent the legacy of the Negro Leagues and Buck O’Neil. For more info, check out www.bestofbuck.com.
Today’s session started with a thank you to all those in attendance. Through nine years of Luncheons, over $100,000 have been raised for the Negro Leagues Museum. That’s a substantial sum for what started as an idea hatched in a conference room.
Once Wilson and Fitzmorris took the stage, they introduced Hillman and Moore. Wilson, who endorsed TeamSmile before the interview started, thanked Moore and his staff for bringing back the Royals Alumni. Wilson said he really enjoys being involved in the organization again and feels it will help re-instill the tradition of the franchise to the new players.
Wilson said it means a lot to him because he has a strong connection with the Royals. He worked his way through the system. So when he got to the bigs, he felt ownership over the team and pride in the uniform he wore. Similar to how he felt once he reached the Majors, Wilson said 60 percent of the Major League club needs to be grown through the farm system.
Moore agreed with him and spoke about being able to draft. He said that in the past, it wasn’t totally an issue of money being put into the draft, but instead the picks which did get the money didn’t pan out the way they should have. The philosophy has changed.
“You have to draft on ability and not signability,” Moore said.
Moore then talked about growing scouting everywhere and not just looking at the draft as a means of acquiring talent to be groomed. At this moment, the team is working on developing a foothold in the Eastern Rim – with area scouts and talent evaluators. The team is also ramping up efforts in Latin America and becoming more aggressive in the Dominican Republic, where the Royals already have a baseball academy.
To grow the system even more, programs are in place for the Fall Instructional League that will allow players who workout during the day and attend classes at night at Glendale (AZ) Community College. They will learn about leadership, character and responsibility on and off the field. Moore said this is something no other team is doing.
Wilson said home-grown players have an attachment to the “Blue and White,” a bond they’ve formed with the team since entering the organization and then continued as they flourished inside of it. Moore seconded his thoughts, saying “Players have to feel strongly about putting on the Royal uniform.”
These programs are making the Royals the toast of the league. In some respects, the Major League club may not be the strongest competition, but scouts are raving about the work going on in the Minor Leagues and at the scouting level. But there is still a lot of heavy lifting to be done.
For example, he threw out a few names the Detroit Tigers picked up over the last offseason. To acquire Edgar Renteria, the Royals would have had to give up Luke Hochevar and Dan Cortes. To get Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera they might have had to fork over Hochevar, Cortes, Derrick Robinson and maybe even Danny Duffy. Those trades would have decimated a thin minor league system. Moore said beyond those few, there was a large gap to get to the next tier of talent in the system.
“Before we build a great farm system, it will be very difficult to impact the Major League team,” Moore said.
The Royals are 10-5 this month, eclipsing their 2007 September win total with 11 games left in the season…When Brandon Duckworth struck out Wladimir Balentien to end the sixth inning; the 2008 pitching staff become the Royals strikeout kings. They passed the 1990 staff which had 1,006 punch outs with Duckworth’s K and ended the night with 1,010 for the season. That number is sure to skyrocket with Gil Meche and Zack Greinke likely to get at least two starts still (both are in the American League’s top 10 for K’s this season)…As a team, the K.C. offense produced a cycle in the fifth inning last night. It was the first time since June 14, 2007 that the Royals have singled, doubled, tripled and homered in one inning.
Today’s Official Game Notes.
Whether you count the All-Star break as the halfway point or you’re technical about it and measure the year in 81 game halves, the season is past its halfway point.
The Royals have 96 games in the bag. Tonight is 97 and the start of a short three game trip to Chicago. Trey Hillman said it yesterday when he noted that we have a tough stretch ahead.
General Manager Dayton Moore and manager Trey Hillman addressed the media yesterday before the team’s workout at Kauffman. The biggest thing they stressed is more consistency from the bats and the arms. To get started off right, Zack Greinke will get the ball tonight. Greinke earned the No. 1 slot with consistent pitching. They want him pitching to both divisional foes, throwing tonight in Chicago and again on Wednesday in the last game of the series against Detroit.
He’s been nasty to hitters, striking out 104 so far this season and becoming the first K.C. pitcher to record 100+ punch outs before the All-Star break since 1997. Greinke also holds a .188 batting average against when there are men in scoring position, which is second in the A.L.
Trey said that pitching coach Bob McClure and the starters worked throughout the All-Star break at the Stadium. Trey cited a reason for the streaks the team has rattled off – both good and bad – has been because of the pitching, specifically the starting rotation which holds a 31-39 record. Last season the starters were 28-39 through 96 games.
Consistency is the motto and there is improvement. The biggest difference between 2007 and 2008, however is that seven pitchers have started games this year. 13 pitchers started at least one game last season.
The state of the position players was also addressed by General Manager Dayton Moore. He said the organization is looking for Billy Butler to continue to improve, Alex Gordon to become more consistent and Mark Teahen to build upon the improvements he’s shown over the last month. Moore also mentioned David DeJesus and acknowledged the outfielder’s continuing success.
DeJesus is among the elite in the game right now. He entered the break with a .460 batting average with men in scoring position, which leads the Majors and is 41 points higher than Rangers’ All-Star Ian Kinsler who is second. In fact DeJesus’ mark is the eighth best entering the All-Star break since 1974 when RISP became a stat. Among those higher than DeJesus at the Midsummer Classic, Tony Gwyn’s .500 in 1997, Barry Bonds’ .500 in 1990 and Rod Carew’s .467 in 1975. Needless to say, DeJesus established a Royals record, topping Mike Sweeney’s .438 in 2000 and Hal McRae’s .427 in 1982.
It should be noted that John Buck is 10th in the Majors with a .361 RISP average, the highest catcher in the Majors.
And as we wrap position players, Jose Guillen has to be mentioned. He’s had an outstanding season at the plate. So far: he’s tied a single game RBI record with seven in June 7, eclipsed last year’s RBI season high with 65 this year (tied for fourth in the A.L.), belted 13 homers (seven of which have given the Royals the lead) and he’s ranked in several other offensive categories.
As a team, the Royals have four players at 10 or more home runs with another sitting on nine. In 2007, only two players hit 10 or more and four hit 10 or more in 2006.
Dayton Moore mentioned that the team is always looking to improve itself through trades or signings but does not want to compromise the current core of young players for a few months of service time or even a year of service unless the team felt it absolutely necessary…The team hired Sports Psychologist Andrew Jacobs, who was introduced to the team before yesterday’s workout…Leo Nunez was moved to Double-A Northwest Arkansas for rehab, because of Triple-A Omaha’s All-Star break. He pitched two innings of relief last night, recording a pair of strikeouts.
The Royals return home for seven games on Monday. Plenty of promotions are in the works for the home stand including Frank White powder blue T-shirts Dan Quisenberry bobbleheads an Emerson Drive concert and the return of Girl’s Night Out.
Tonight marks the first of 28 straight games against opponents with winning records, 16 of which are at Kauffman. The combined record for the seven teams is 368-297 for a .553 winning percentage.
The Royals are working on a number of things for Military Appreciation Day, which is August 2. Around the Horn would like to request some help from our faithful here at mlblogs.com. If you have pictures of loved ones overseas wearing Royals gear, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we might be able to use them for a presentation during that day’s events. If not, Around the Horn is also working on a special post for that day and may post some of these photos right here. Please include the name of the person, hometown, where they are stationed and what branch they are in.
Thanks for your help.
Here’s today’s Official Game Notes.