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Less is Mooreposted: Friday, June 2, 2006
Two years ago, The New York Times ran a story about Wal-Mart employees being locked in stores overnight and, as a result, one man nearly dying after a serious fall.
David Glass is a Wal-Mart guy. What he did to Allard Baird amounted to his company's overnight practices.
When the Royals hit bottom more than a month ago, Glass decided that he'd better deflect the heat off his ownership, threw Baird to the wind and told the good people of Kansas City that changes were forthcoming. Baird told friends that while Glass hadn't talked to him, he had been fired. He went into the clubhouse and thanked the players for their effiorts.
But he wasn't fired then, and for the last two weeks, general manager after general manager and baseball official after baseball official called to offer their disgust at the way Glass -- who across the industry lives with the notion that he was given the team by Bud Selig because the commissioner knows he will vote loyally -- treated one of the best human beings on the planet.
"Allard was the ultimate loyal soldier who always took the heat for Glass," says one GM. "And this is the way he's rewarded?"
"Allard never wanted to cover Glass' behind by signing a bunch of 30-somethings," says another. "But he takes the fall."
"Allard never complained when Glass denied him any money after the first pick," says one scouting director. "What a joke. Most years they were paying fourth-round money for late-first or sandwich picks, so they never took advantage of the draft. A couple of years ago, after the fifth round, they could only take $1000 college seniors. Pathetic."
A month later, Baird was on a plane to Fort Worth for an evaluation of Luke Hochevar for next week's draft. The following day, he was fired in Kansas City.
Glass then asked him if he would stick around and run the draft next Tuesday -- since his replacement, Dayton Moore, cannot participate in the draft with the Royals (he also will not sit in on the Braves' draft). "You couldn't make this stuff up," says one NL GM.
Run the draft after being fired? Yeah, right. This isn't Wal-Mart. Allard Baird could not be locked in the draft room. He packed up his dignity and flew home to Miami to go to the Heat game with his wife.
But if you are a Royals fan, even if you think less of Glass than people across baseball, turn the page on his ownership past. As poorly as he treated Baird, he got this right. If you could canvas the entire industry and pick one person to come in and begin the reconstruction, it would be Dayton Moore.
Understand, this man turned down the opportunity to succeed John Schuerholz in Atlanta. He rejected the possibility of being the general manager of the Red Sox, which he might have been had he stayed in the process after initially being interviewed by Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino. And now he is taking the job in Kansas City.
Not that it was an easy decision. After weeks of going back and forth, he called his wife from the ballpark Monday night and told her he was staying with the Braves. Then, as he drove home, he reconsidered. "That was the safe, comfortable decision," Moore said Thursday from Atlanta. "But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I really want to go build something that is totally my own. Is there risk? Of course. But the Glass [family] told me they don't know baseball operations and don't want to know. Kansas City, like Atlanta, is a great place to raise a family, which is very important when you have kids aged ten, seven and four."
Tuesday morning, Moore sat down with Schuerholz and explained that he felt he had to take the job. Even though Schuerholz had indicated that Moore was his designated successor when he moves up in three or four years, the Braves GM understood and gave his prot間?his blessing.
"I learned a great deal from John," says Moore. "He hires very good people, trusts and empowers them. He asks a lot of questions. He has a unique ability to make definitive decisions.
"I have great respect for the entire Atlanta organization. What John and Bobby [Cox] have built is something that may never be equaled. But what I would like to do is take all that I learned from John, Bobby, Paul Snyder, Roy Clark, Bill Fischer, Jose Martinez and everyone in that organization and see if I can apply it to something that is my own. I was flattered to be interviewed by the Red Sox. But I had heard there was a possibility that Theo [Epstein] was coming back, and even if he did not, they had already accomplished what in my lifetime is the most special, significant moment in their franchise history, and will remain that for the rest of my lifetime.
"In Kansas City, I have the opportunity to build something," says Moore. "It's a great opportunity."
Being soft-spoken and modest, Dayton Moore will get to Kansas City next weekend without any bravado or false promises. He is not going to get to town and nuke the organization.
"One of the most difficult things about this decision was my relationship with Allard," says Moore. "When I was first an area scout with the Royals, he was the cross-checker, and we became friends and he helped me immensely. I know some of the people there. I obviously worked with Brian Murphy [in K.C. and Atlanta]. I originally hired [K.C. scouting director] Deric Ladnier as an intern with the Braves.
"When I get there, I will listen. I have ideas, but I want to observe and then make decisions."
Moore has no imput on the draft in either Kansas City or Atlanta, and says he has no problem with it. Baird's recommendation was to use the first pick to select North Carolina left-hander Andrew Miller, but there are voices within the organization in favor of either Hochevar -- who turned down $2.5M from the Dodgers in last year's draft and is pitching for the independent Fort Worth Cats -- or Houston pitcher Brad Lincoln. Even before Baird left, there were assurances the scouting budget had been increased so that, after the first selection, they can draft whomever they want, not the cheapest commodity on the rack; it is an indication the Glass family may have learned that it is far better to take the $5M (from big market teams' revenue-sharing coin) usually given to a 30-something veteran who might help them win 68 games and put that money into scouting and development.
There will be no quick fix in Kansas City. Oh, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler will probably impact them next season, and Moore may be able to get some young players for some of the present Royals.
But it will take time, a long time. At least David Glass got it right, though. He didn't go out and hire a retread on the advice and consent of another owner, or put some former Royal player in charge because of name recognition. He convinced the best man to clean up his mess and restore what was a terrific franchise in the days of Ewing Kaufman, Joe Burke and John Schuerholz. Now he has to listen to Dayton Moore and grant him the autonomy necessary to make the Royals matter again.
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