With the big spending in baseball, it's quite refreshing to see what the Kansas City Royals have done the past two seasons. A team right in the middle of the 30 Major League Baseball teams in team payroll will be in its second straight World Series when it plays the New York Mets.
It has been 30 years since the Royals last won the Fall Classic. That team was led by John Schuerholz, who left Kansas City five years later to run the Atlanta Braves. Schuerholz then orchestrated a historic run of success in Atlanta as the general manager, culminating in the World Series title won 20 years ago this week.
One of Schuerholz's proteges along the way was Dayton Moore, who ironically 10 years ago left a front office job with Atlanta to run the Royals. It's Moore's philosophies, ingrained in him by Schuerholz, that now have the Royals as the top team in the AL for the second straight season.
Last year when Frank Wren, Schuerholz's replacement as Atlanta's GM, was fired, there was great sentiment for Moore to come back to run the Braves. But Schuerholz instead convinced John Hart to take over with the help of John Coppolella, who is now the general manager.
Any executive who can make the Royals winners would be the target of many teams, but it's not a shock Moore likely would not listen if the Braves had called. He grew up a Royals fan, living not too far away in Wichita, Kansas. Little did Moore know, back in the late 1970s when he would watch the Royals on ABC's "Monday Night Baseball," that he would one day construct a World Series contender for his hometown team.
The same years Moore led the Braves' farm system. I was hosting a weekly TV show with the team. I was around Moore a lot, and this success is not a surprise at all. Anyone could have predicted Moore would do well running a team by watching him develop as an executive.
Like Schuerholz, Moore was very organized and allowed the people around him to do their jobs. He didn't try to run everything, but instead was a good listener and was never too important that he couldn't learn more about the game. He was like a top pitching prospect in low Single-A; someone you just knew would eventually become a successful general manager.
Moore has built the Royals like his mentor built the Braves -- through scouting and player development. He emphasizes pitching every chance he gets. While many of Kansas City's top players on this team are position players, Moore's moves through the years have always had a lean toward pitching and defense.
And he has made great trades. When Moore knew the Royals could not afford to keep Zack Greinke, he traded the pitcher to Milwaukee. Two of the players Moore got back, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar, are major players on the current roster. And then, when he needed pitching, Moore traded a top position prospect (Wil Myers) to Tampa Bay for two pitchers, including closer Wade Davis.
Moore built the farm system where the Royals could go make in-season trades and get a Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist, two veterans who have helped the Royals get back to the World Series.
This is not a stats person. Moore certainly listens to his more statistically oriented colleagues, but he is all about the makeup of a player's ability to be successful based on how they can fit into a team -- the intangibles that make a difference. Moore learned all about that in Atlanta.
He has pushed the right buttons, and Moore should be commended for making a team without a large payroll and one not in New York or Boston the best team in the AL. Now Moore's Royals must do something Schuerholz's Braves did for many years in Atlanta -- beat the Mets.
Listen to "The Bill Shanks Show" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at www.twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org