The Royals have cornered the market for lack of accountability

The Royals have cornered the market for lack of accountability

“At some point they have to turn the corner.”

Wait, pause, take a moment and appreciate that three former Beat Royals writers got together, formed their own version of The Avengers, and exposed the Kansas City Royals with a news article as devastating ($) as you are likely to read about a sports team that involves no tangible harm to others. Say what you will about wins and losses, but Royals fans have been blessed for many years with terrific beat writers for the Kansas City Star, The Athletic and the Royals website. There may not be much value in watching games, but there is plenty to read about the team the next day, and that continues to be true with Lynn Worthy and Anne Rogers, even though the three who wrote this article have largely moved on from their jobs covering the Royals.

Alright, that’s about it for the nice things I have to say today.

“At some point they have to turn the corner.”

Those words are taken from the penultimate quote from general manager JJ Picollo in the linked article written by a true all-star team of battered former Royals writers for The Athletic earlier this week. It’s damning stuff on the surface, going into great detail about the many ways the Royals front office has failed in trying to scout, draft and develop pitchers over the past decade. In case you’re left with a glimmer of hope, the article doesn’t paint the current system in a noticeably better light than what came before.

These words, however. These words have stayed with me in the hours since I first read them. We’ve talked a lot about liability around Royals Review this year because Dayton Moore brought up the concept when the team finally fired batting coach Terry Bradshaw without seeming to really understand what it means. These words suggest to me that Dayton Moore not only has not grasped the meaning of the concept of responsibility, but that his subordinates do not care too much about it.

There are a lot of underlying assumptions in this simple. nine-word sentence. Let’s break it down, shall we?

“At one point”

If you look up the definition of the phrase, you get “A moment in time that is not specific”. The lack of specificity is a real problem for me, as I think it should be for all of us. If you do even cursory research on goal setting, one of the basic concepts that almost everyone agrees on is that goals should be specific. It makes sense on a basic level. The goal, “I want to climb Mount Everest at some point”, is not as strong as the goal, “I want to climb Mount Everest by the end of 2030”. The lack of specificity makes it very easy to procrastinate and find other kinds of excuses.

Let’s take the example back a bit. If your boss asks for a progress report and you say, “I’ll get it to you by the end of the day. You’re probably in much better shape than if you answered, “I’ll get it to you eventually.” In the first example, you hold yourself accountable for a specific outcome at a specific time – something your boss can count on. In the second example, you force your boss to set a deadline because you are not responsible enough on your own.

Does that mean there’s no excuse and no mercy for the occasional missed deadline? Of course not. Sometimes things happen. Royals fans cut the team’s game in 2016 when they lost Mike Moustakas for the whole season to injury and again in 2017 when Yordano Ventura’s life was tragically cut short when many mattered on him to become the staff ace. And we’re not exactly JJ Picollo’s boss to demand the same level of accountability that our bosses might demand of us. However, by using this type of undefined language, Picollo expects that he is not at all accountable to us or in fact has no idea when changes should be expected. One is worse than the other, but neither is particularly good.

“must turn the corner”

The definition of “turning the corner” is “pass a critical point and begin to improve.” The thing about turning the corner isn’t a situation or a person ever has to do it. There is often a hope or desire that they do, but no requirement. The thing is, the Royals’ pitching prospects may never turn corners again. It could be as good as any of them. Given a chance to expand on the idea that pitching prospects must improve at some point, JJ Picollo’s quote goes on to simply double down on the idea.

There’s only so long you can go. They have to turn the corner.

OKAY. Thanks for the amazing insight Mr. Picollo! The corner to have to be turned. Why is there no change of direction? What will it look like when the corner is turned? What will it take to turn the corner?

We do not care. Just turn the corner already!

“they or they”

This is perhaps the most infuriating part of it all.

“they or they”

Not us.” Certainly not “I”.

“they or they”

JJ Picollo – and by extension, the Royals front office – takes no responsibility for what comes next with these pitchers. It is entirely up to them. If they want the data, they have to go get it. If they want to improve, they have to figure out how and get there. The Royals front office will not be responsible for helping these pitchers improve. Either they will sink or they will swim. They will suddenly learn to throw more effective pitches in more effective places or they will continue to walk the batters and give up home runs.

At least until their contracts end happily and they can go to a team that will actually take responsibility for improving them.

Jakob Junis has now kicked off almost an entire season for the San Francisco Giants. His numbers aren’t as impressive as they were at the start of the season, but he’s still posting career highs in nearly every category on the FanGraphs dashboard. His 4.53 ERA as a starter would be third best among the Royals. His 4.13 FIP as a starter would be second best. And the Royals chose not to offer him because they thought he wasn’t going to be able to figure it out. When asked about his early success, the Royals’ only defense was to claim they asked him to do the things that helped him succeed, but he didn’t.

The implication was that they were unable to convince him it was a good idea. Knowing what we know now after reading the article in The Athletic, it seems quite obvious that they wouldn’t be able to convince him as they don’t seem to be preparing properly or sharing the available data with their pitchers. I think we also have to ask ourselves if, even if he had been convinced, the Royals would probably have been unable or unwilling to help him find the best way to accomplish these changes. The team focused on Jakob Junis to figure out Jakob Junis’ stuff. In retrospect, it’s absolutely no wonder that, having failed to find success with what the Royals wanted and could offer him, Junis had to turn to learning his brother’s throws in an attempt to retain his work in the major league.

Yes, we have talked a lot this year about responsibility and the Royals. But that’s because, with every new nugget of information we learn, we discover a front office that has even less responsibility than even the most pessimistic among us had previously assumed. But hey, at least there’s some good news.

At some point, they have to turn a corner.

#Royals #cornered #market #lack #accountability

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