Friday, July 14, 2006

Midterm Report Card: Part III

The final installation of the Midterm Report Card focuses on the Royals' coaching, management and ownership. The Royals' management and ownership both share the blame for the terrible state of the organization. Thus, I wasn't very generous with the grading.

The ownership (Mr. Glass and family):
Although the ownership does not directly make baseball decisions, they are ultimately responsible for the people who make the baseball decisions and for the state of the organization. The organization has undergone an unprecedented period of losing, losing more games than ownerless teams of the 1990s. The model franchise of the Ewing Kauffman era has become the national media's favorite baseball team to pick on. The franchise crumbled under the watchful eye of Mr. Glass and he did nothing to stop it.

Everyone knew after last season it wasn't a matter of if, but when Allard was going to be fired. With two consecutive 100-loss seasons with no significant signs of progress, Allard should have been shown the door. Mr. Glass allowed Allard to spend $20-25 million in free agency instead of giving the new GM an opportunity to begin rebuilding the franchise with the players they wanted. That, IMO, only set the organization back further.

The season began and the team started off horribly as expected. Mr. Glass declared major changes were in the works, but didn't say Allard's job was in jeopardy, even though it obviously was. He began the search a year too late, but to his credit, he found the best man for the job, hiring Dayton Moore. The Glass family gave more a $1 million salary and contract until 2010, a pretty nice offer.

Also to Mr. Glass's credit, he is believed to have given Moore written assurance that Moore will have final say in all baseball decisions. What a novel idea! Just give Moore the budget and let him make the decisions. Although Mr. Glass says he never meddled in baseball operations before, there has to be a reason why Moore asked for the written assurance. With the owner out of the way, hopefully Moore will be able to do his job well.

Grade: D, franchise is in a terrible state, but chose the right person to fix it

The Front Office:

Muzzy Jackson: It's hard to evaluate how much involvement Jackson had in the Royals' mediocre offseason. But, he did a good job with the 2006 draft as the interim general manager. The Royals did a good job of filling their main needs through the draft, including getting a potential ace in Luke Hochevar.

Grade: B

Deric Ladnier/Scouting Department: The Royals appear to have had another strong draft. Luke Hochevar was a bit of a surprise at first, but the Royals reasoning seems sound. Jason Taylor, Blake Wood, and Jason Godin are off to good starts in the minor leagues. Derrick Robinson hasn't hit well, but his speed is his greatest asset and his bat may take a while to develop. Overall, that gives the Royals 3 very good drafts in a row.

Grade: A-


Buddy Bell: Buddy Bell might be the worst Royals' manager in the past decade and that's saying a lot. Bell is a terrible decision making and insists on playing the veterans over the younger, better players. The best example of this is Esteban German. German has been the second-best offensive player on the team. He has the second-best OPS, a great on-base percentage, and good speed. Yet, Bell keeps him out of the lineup as much as possible and usually bats him ninth. His misuse of German as an outfielder was ridiculous and apparently he never forgave German for an error he made there. Bell has also made a habit of using Sisco in critical situations, even though Sisco has been the Royals' most ineffective reliever this season. I'm sure I could come up with more examples of Bell's inept managing, but anyone who has watched the Royals can figure out he's a terrible manager.

Grade: F, hopefully the new manager search is underway

Bob McClure: The Royals' pitching staff is even worse than the Guy Hansen coached staff from last season. Even Guy Hansen was able to get a few positives out of what little talent was on the roster last season. Burgos and Sisco have regressed this season and the bullpen that was supposed to be one of the best in baseball is at the bottom. It's nice not to have Guy Hansen changing every pitcher's mechanics, but McClure hasn't done anything to fix this horrible pitching staff. There isn't much talent to work with, but there's no evidence he's making any progress.

Grade: F, hopefully Moore can bring in a long-term pitching coach

Mike Barnett: The Royals' offense has really improved in the past month or two, which probably has nothing to do with Barnett's coaching. Nonetheless, the offense has been about what was expected.

Grade: C

That's all for the midterm report cards. Coming up, a look at the Royals' farm system and a look at our division foes and the future of the AL Central.


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