With the Royals recent acquisition of Scott Podsednik, I finally had to send a crack team of ninjas to infiltrate Dayton Moore's office to try to find any reason for continuing to overpay for free agent acquisitions. The ninjas wondered why I hired them instead of a computer hacker. I had to explain to them that no computers have been seen in the Royals' offices.
Of the five ninjas that were sent, only three returned. They said that the mission was going fine. They got into Dayton's office and then saw this painting of Willie Bloomquist on his wall
Two ninjas died instantly and all are suffering from some kind of vision loss. They located a safe behind the painting that contained only one item, a copy of John Schuerholz's book, "Built to Win." After quickly looking through the book, they figured this was what they were after and quickly left.
I have been going through the book since receiving it. I have had to get another copy as some passages have been redacted. Thanks again to the ninjas, and may the two rest in peace.
Since Dayton once worked for John with the Braves, it may have not been a surprise to find this tomb behind his cherished painting of Bloomquist. I will break up the quotes I found important into 3 areas: quotes highlighted, quotes commented on, and quotes completed crossed out.
Dayton's Favorites - The Highlighted Quotes
... good teams are built, structured, and allowed to win consistently because of talented people, a process, a program, and an environment within an organization.
Well that explains where his term, "The Process" comes from. I am just waiting for the words "program" and "environment" to show up more frequently in his vocabulary.
Maybe it's my belief in the Pygmalion Theory, the self-fulfilling prophecy that if you believe so strongly in something and you have the capabilities and a strong work ethic, you can achieve those things. I believe that very strongly then and I still do today.
Winning is hard; losing is easy. Winning won't come easy, but if we truly want it, it will happen. We can win, so we will win!
I challenged them to accept my promise that the talent was spread fairly evenly throughout Major League Baseball and that the teams with the strongest attitudes and toughness separate themselves from the pack by making the commitment to win.
Great. The Royals are trying to get Kyle Farnsworth thinking he can throw his fastball past Paul Konerko and Miguel Olivo thinking he can actually hit a breaking pitch. John sees the teams as being fairly even in talent, so a mere winning attitude is the difference from winning and losing.
In our business or personal lives, we are all growing and progressing. Always! We need to be sure we give everyone else in our company, our organization, and our team team the encouragement to do it as well.
Not really a bad idea here, just that he expects players to continue to improve. Too bad most of the Royals are trying to improve from very untalented aging veteran to untalented aging veteran.
My view and contention is there has not been one championship team that has been built by someone who even espouses to be characterized a true Moneyball team, who has built his team based on that process alone. Championship team, I'm talking about. Winning team. A team that wins consistently.
The perception that was presented is that this is a better way. An enlightened way. A rounder wheel. A better mousetrap. A faster, more efficient rocket. I simply don't believe it is.
Stats are not to be used alone, but when they are the last item used in determining ability of major league talent, something is wrong.
Each time someone asks me how we have been able to win so consistently over the past fifteen years, I say principally because of our scouting and player development staff and the work they do.
It's doesn't bother me if a guy wants to build a team based only statistics. Because we're going to use statistics, too. But we're also going to use the judgment and the intuition and the knowledge and the gut feel of the Paul Snyders and Jim Fregosis and the Chuck McMichaels and the Frank Wrens and the Dean Taylors. And the Chuck LaMars and Dayton Moores and Roy Clarks and Tyrone Brookese. Our scouts and executives.
I am going to use their passion about a player.
Just as before, the core of how we operate, make decisions, evaluate, and construct our roster is the traditional baseball model. We rely on aggressive, intuitive scouting, sound scouting judgment, and knowledge of a player's ability, as well a knowledge of a player's makeup and character
"Braves win!" is also the banner cry in celebration of the hard work done in a far more traditional manner that those trendy methods and theories proffered in recent years. In addition to traditional statistical analysis, our continuing success is more affirmation of good, intuitive scouting, player development, and homegrown players. It is affirmation of doing things the old-fashioned winning way: working hard and earning the spoils. No fancy equations. No bizarre analyses. Just good, solid baseball people doing their jobs.(247)
It [policy] has give credence to the traditional baseball style of human scouting and dedicated player development people - rewarding their considered judgments and years of experience as the impetus for our success rather than some trendy statistical formula for roster building.
Definitely a philosophy of scout first. I could have used just one (or half the book), but the emphasis on scouting is one for John building a team. Dayton gripped this philosophy. Again no real surprise here.
Unlike many other clubs, we align our professional scouts not on a purely geographic basis, but more of a linear basis. Each man has a number of major league teams to follow and that includes most of that team's farm system. So a scout covering the Padres, for example, might routinely travel halfway across the country to see the Padre's Triple-A team and Double-A team. We feel it is important for each scout to have a feel for the vertical knowledge of the talent flow within an organization, providing that scout with deeper understanding of that organization.
Good insight here on how the scouts are organized. Either Dayton really trusts the scouts for the Mariners, Braves and White Sox or Dayton was the scout for these two (Braves excluded) when he was with the Braves. It would be great to find out the Royals scout for each of those two teams.
It had always been my philosophy since I entered baseball in 1966 with the pitching-rich Orioles (who beat the Dodgers in four straight win the World Series on '66 with a great pitching staff) that it's all about building winning teams around pitching.
Dayton has stated he wanted pitching and through free agency and drafts he emphasizes this belief.
Players that we find and we train to play baseball the way the Atlanta Braves expect it to be played. (34)
A month into the 94 season we trade him [Deion Sanders] to Cincinnati for outfielder Roberto Kelly and a pitcher Roger Etheridge. Good player. Good riddance.
After the '97 season, we similarly threw in the towel on center fielder Kenny Lofton, who also could never embrace our environment or ideals.
"Deion and Kenny weren't bad guys," Bobby Cox recalled, "But you like them to be more part of the team, part of the city, part of the organization."
Really no room for "me first" type players or trouble makers. This can be seen when Dan Cortes (ranked #9 in the Mariners farm system by John Sickels) was traded for Yuniesky Betancourt, arguably the worst everyday player in baseball. Dan had several run-ins with the law including being arrested for public urination. Also Danny Gutierrez (ranked 10th in the Rangers organization by Sickels) was traded off for Tim Smith (Royals 18th top prospect according to Sickels). Danny has be arrested 3 time since going the team. Or it could just be that maybe Dayton just has something against people named Dan.
.... I felt about the team we had constructed and what my view of what the past had been and how we were going to commit ourselves to doing what was necessary to win and how we felt we had accomplished some of that over the winter with the signing of some new players. (Fast-forward a couple of weeks and we made the deal to add fleet outfielder Otis Nixon from the Expos early in spring training, which really rounded out the team.)
So my plan, from the very beginning was to ..... (c)get a center fielder who could play the heck out of center field, which we did early in spring training when we acquired Otis Nixon.
These quotes help explain why I sent the ninjas in the first place. Why did the Royals go out and sign Scott Podsednik? Looks like Dayton has it in his mind that a fast CF would help turn this team around like Otis Nixon did for the Braves. The problem is that the list of speedy guys brought in (Joey Gathright, Anderson brothers, Coco Crisp, Scott Podsednik, Ryan Freel) all could not hit or field. Coco was serviceable, but his health was an issue. It looks like the Otis Nixon Effect is alive and well in the KC organization.
These were the people who were really busting a gut to get out of that last-place rut we were in.
With a sore shoulder, he [Smoltz] recorded our lone playoff victory over Houston on pure grit.
Dayton has gone after the gritty players out there (Ross Gload and Willie Bloomquist), but grit isn't always important, guts are also.
Phrases Dayton Commented On
Suddenly, the holes in our rotation left by the free agent departures of Russ Ortiz and Jaret Wright were not only filled, but we had aces No. 1 and 1A to go with Mike Hampton, John Thomson, and Horacio Ramirez, any one of whom would have been the considered the staff ace on some teams.
DM: Ace Pitchers, remember to sign them
Looks like Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton are destined to be Royals.
... previously perfect closer Kyle Farnsworth,...
DM: Perfect closer, I need to get him.
Kyle's pitching wasn't bad, he was just used too much against LHP. Contract horrendous.
It may be a change in a form, or a change in a computer format, now that we've computerized virtually everything we do
DM: Who needs them
The ninja reported that there was no sign of any computers, but they did see this calculator.
Now, what should contracts and raises be based on if not performance stats? But when they don't work or benefit the player and his agent, their view is, "Spare me the fucking stats."
DM: If agents can think like this, why not me?
With many of the contracts the Royals have signed, Dayton sure isn't looking at stats. Remember Jose Guillen? 3 years, $36 million.
We've had to deal with significant change from the explosion of player salary, the growth and increased involvement of player agents, the Internet and the daily bloggers who demand that we general managers, as team spokesmen, preprepared to answer all questions at all times, over and over and over in this fast-paced, give-me-the-information-now society in which we live.
DM: Ban them blogging troublemakers.
Dayton doesn't exactly handle criticism well to say the least. If you cross his path, you may just get baneed from the park as Keith Law and Rany Jazaverli have found out.
We had no choice but rely on young, inexperienced players to plug these many holes and help us back to our winning ways. (251)
DM: Veterans are the key
Dayton almost refuses to use players in the minor leagues and instead major league retreads instead. There is absolutely no reason to sign Scott Podsednik with Mitch Maier available to play in CF at close to a tenth the cost.
Phrases Blacked Out
How to tell a winner from a loser:
When a winner makes a mistake, he says, "I was wrong," When a loser makes a mistake, he says, "It wasn't my fault."
Winners make commitments. Losers make excuses.
I am not for sure how many times I heard Dayton assign the blame for the Royals lack of success on injuries suffered last season. I am sure it wasn't because he acquired old injury prone veterans or let a manager completely abuse his starting pitchers.
We didn't accept any halfway targets. It wasn't, "Let's get better," or "Let's improve," or Let's work harder." That's just too vague.
Just the other day in an interview Dayton stated the Royals will improve by playing better baseball. If there is one aspect of interviews that Dayton has mastered in vagueness.
Bobby will never abuse a pitcher. That is to say it is important to him to protect a pitcher's arm or to protect a pitcher who is having some nagging physical problems, to the extent that a pitcher's arm and well being over the course of the whole season are important to him as any particular game.
It was painful to see Gil Meche raise his ERA 1.2 points over 5 games after he went 132 pitches last season. He was then taxed to 121 and 114 pitches over that 5 game stretch. No wonder he landed on the DL right after that.
In it [presentation] I discuss the issues of understanding change, getting comfortable with change, not rejecting it out of hand, but learning about it, and embracing it.
No need to change from the Braves way, it is working great in KC :(
Now we a full cadre of staff who get involved in information gathering, statistical analysis, and so forth so that we know that our proposed number is valid, well researched, and appropriate for a particular player and our overall team payroll.
Yea, like he ever looks at numbers.
Well, that is not all the quotes highlighted, marked on or deleted from "Built to Win", but a good sampling to understand the ideas behind the man. I hope the ninjas mission was not in vain and the baseball community can better understand why Dayton does or doesn't make his decisions.