Don't take my word for it; listen to what third baseman Joe Randa said on WHB 810 after outfielder Jermaine Dye was traded last week. "I'm sure this is going to have a big effect on the fan support in Kansas City," said Randa. "I don't know which direction this team is going."
Let me help you out, Joe. This team is headed south -- the same direction David Glass has been piloting the club for seven years. After saying he wanted to buy the Royals and then saying he was not a candidate to buy the Royals and then stealing the club for the ridiculously low price of $96 million (the Rangers bought their shortstop for more than twice that amount), Glass continues to vacillate between indecision and uncertainty as the Royals' second owner.
The media broke the story over a month ago that Dye would be the next Royals player traded. Glass and General Manager Allard Baird scoffed and denied the rumor whenever queried. Dye himself said he was "always told I wasn't going anywhere."Less than a year ago Glass assured his players and fans that his goal was to keep this team's nucleus -- Johnny Damon, Dye, Mike Sweeney and Randa -- together in Kansas City. Only Randa and Sweeney remain. Charlie O. Finley has been reincarnated, wearing a Wal-Mart vest and an Arkansas sneer.
While Glass and Baird dismantle the heart of a team that they believed needed only a closer to get it into the playoffs, Tony Muser continues to draw a paycheck from the club he has managed to more losses than any other manager in Royals' history. He compiled those 380-plus losses in four incredibly long years. The old saying in baseball is that when a team is going bad you can't fire 25 players, so it's the manager who has to go. Glass and Baird appear determined to disprove that notion.
Muser has done nothing to deserve the unfailing loyalty and support Glass and Baird have showered on him. Damon, Dye and Carlos Beltran were touted by Baseball Weekly as the best young outfield in baseball only two seasons ago. Muser ruined Beltran's confidence and fan appeal when he publicly demeaned Beltran's playing and attitude last year. Although Muser says he loves Damon's and Dye's talent, they are both now in a heated wild-card race as Oakland A's.
"I bought into this thing during spring training by signing a long-term contract," said Randa. "My heart bleeds Royals blue, but there is anger there. I have a hard time grasping what's going on right now." Damon demanded that the Royals prove to him they were serious about competing before he would consider re-signing. Randa wasn't as cautious. He trusted Glass and Baird and believed they wanted to win with the most popular group of players assembled in Kansas City since the mid- '80s. Randa looks as though he'll be the only one left after Sweeney's contract is up next season.
Baird defends the team's actions with double-talk. "You never want to trade a quality player and quality person like Jermaine Dye," says Baird. "But when there is a void on your ball club at a premium position -- centerfield, shortstop, catcher -- as we looked to 2002, we had to give up quality to get quality." Where is the quality the Royals are accumulating for the quality being dealt away?
Damon's 159 games and 655 at bats were traded for Roberto Hernandez's 41 innings and measly seventeen saves. Kevin Appier was traded for Blake Stein, Brad Rigby and Jeff D'Amico -- in other words Who? What? and Where? Jeremy Giambi was dealt for Brett Laxton, a guy whose career smells worse than the Omaha zoo. Glendon Rusch has a 6-1 record with the Mets while Dan Murray is 2-2 in Omaha.
Maybe Glass meant it when he said he had no interest in owning the Royals.