Royal family fires longtime front office executive Dayton Moore

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals fired longtime executive Dayton Moore on Wednesday, ending the rollercoaster tenure of an influential general manager and president who turned the club from perennial underdog to 100 games at two World Series and the 2015 Championship before his rapid return to mediocrity.

Royals owner John Sherman, who retained Moore after acquiring the club from David Glass in 2019, announced the move at a press conference in which Moore spoke briefly before quietly slipping out of the room.

“I think the goal is clear: it’s to compete for the championships again, and we have to make sure we progress towards that goal,” said Sherman, whose club was 30 games below the 0.500 mark. before their game against Minnesota.

“In 2022 we regressed,” Sherman said, “and it’s happening. It happens to big teams. But when I started talking to Dayton and others, I felt we needed to more changes than we were talking about, and that was a big reason to do this one.

Sherman attempted a minor front office shakeup last offseason, elevating Moore from general manager to president of baseball operations while giving JJ Picollo the title of general manager. But the clumsy division of jobs never worked, and Sherman decided to move forward with Picollo handling all aspects of baseball operations.

Picollo was the first person hired by Moore when he took over the Royals in 2006.

“I’ve known JJ since he was 21,” Moore said during his brief remarks. “He’s an incredible leader, and as I’ve mentioned before, he’s more than prepared to lead the baseball operations department in a very innovative and productive way. I’m proud that he’s continued to have that opportunity.

Sherman said he expects other changes to be discussed in the aftermath and in the offseason, including whether to keep manager Mike Matheny and his coaching staff. But it will be up to Picollo to make those decisions.

“JJ was great to work with,” Matheny said. “I’ve had him on the road, I’ve had a lot of meetings here recently as the season draws to a close. He has a great perspective on the system and what needs to be done.

Moore was hired in 2006 and tasked with rebuilding an organization that hadn’t made the playoffs in more than two decades. He quickly followed the plan he learned from longtime Braves executive John Schuerholz, investing in Latin America and the minor league system before spending on proven major league talent.

It took over a decade for the plan to work, but the Royals began to see progress with a winning record in 2013, when a wave of young players began to hit the majors. And the breakthrough came the following year, when a team built around Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas won the first of two consecutive AL pennants.

The Royals lost their first World Series trip to the San Francisco Giants in a dramatic seven-game series, but finished the job the following year, beating the New York Mets in five for their first championship since 1985. .

“He’s a great guy, a great person,” said Royals wide receiver Salvador Perez, one of the stars of those league years. “It’s hard, you know? I never thought he was going to leave this organization.

For most in the organization, Moore is the only boss they have ever known.

“Everyone looks at us as baseball players,” Royals second baseman Nicky Lopez said, “but there’s a life out of baseball and he cared about it. He cares about us as people, which is something very special.

Moore’s term ending may have seemed abrupt on Wednesday, but it took years.

He knew it would be impossible for the small market organization to keep Hosmer and other stars as they reached free agency after their league years, so after an average 2016 the club began a rebuild. almost top to bottom.

It was slowed by bad drafts, poor player development and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on baseball, and the Royals had back-to-back 100-game losing seasons. And when the club finally made progress last season and some of their young talent moved on to the big leagues, they failed to capitalize on it. The Royals started slowly this season and never recovered.

“There’s a gap right now between where we are and where we expected,” said Sherman, who owned part of the top-place Guardians before acquiring the Royals. “I felt like in 2021 we made progress, and in 2022 I don’t feel that way.”

The organization Picollo is tasked with taking to the next level is better off than what Moore inherited 16 years ago: Infielder Bobby Witt Jr. is among the top contenders for AL Rookie of the Year, and rookies such as Vinnie Pasquantino and MJ Melendez give Kansas City a youthful core reminiscent of the Hosmer and Moustakas band we ran.

Still, there are plenty of organizational issues that Picollo has to deal with.

For years, the Royals have struggled to develop pitching — their staff currently has the fourth-worst ERA in baseball and the worst WHIP by far, which led to the firing of pitching coordinator Jason Simontacchi earlier this season.

They struggled to identify impact talent in the draft, constantly sniffing out first-round picks. That includes four picks over a two-year span during their World Series years who failed to make a significant impact in the big league.

And they struggled to keep up with the changing times, preferring old-school anecdotal scouting methods to new-school analytics and data-driven decision-making that leveled the playing field with clubs. of bullets from major markets.

“Dayton always talks about what a championship team looks like. It’s great conversation,” Sherman said, “but first I’d like to know what a wildcard team looks like. Because Kansas City fans the know, if you can get a wildcard spot and get in on the action, anything can happen.

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