'Frustrated' Moore says Royals' poor offensive approach has been addressed
If you're cringing over the Royals' sluggish offense so far, you're not alone. As GM Dayton Moore says, 'This is not the start we expected.' But he expects that to change.
Eric Hosmer's solo home run Monday was among 16 hits by the Royals -- but only five runners crossed the plate.
Lenny Ignelzi / AP
By Jeffrey Flanagan
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Royals general manager Dayton Moore sees the same thing Royals fans are seeing -- a team that is just not producing enough runs to reach its expectation of being a playoff contender.
"I'm as frustrated as anyone," Moore told FOXSportsKansasCity.com by phone. "It's very simple why we're not winning as much as we should be -- we're getting plenty of base runners but just not driving them in.
"(Monday) was another example. What did we have, 19 base runners? That's a game we dominated but couldn't get enough runs home. Our ability to get runs home has to improve. Period."
As the Royals' slide reached five games Monday night, the question becomes: What can Moore do to help the situation?
A trade seems unlikely at this point.
"There's not a lot you can do because there aren't a lot of players available (for a trade) right now," Moore said. "And I still have a lot of faith in the guys we have."
And Moore isn't about to swap out hitting coaches again. After firing Kevin Seitzer after the 2012 season and then reassigning Seitzer's replacements -- Jack Maloof and Andre David -- last May, Moore plans on sticking with hitting coach Pedro Grifol for now.
"It's the players who have to be accountable," Moore said. "And they are and they will be. I know Pedro and Ned (Yost) are working on (the hitters') approach all the time. That approach has to get better, too.
"It's quite simple for us. We need to be having our best at-bats when it matters most, when runners are in scoring position, and that's not happening now."
The Royals are hitting just .241 with runners in scoring position. With two outs and RISP, the number is even more grim -- .211.
"That's the time when, as a group, you have to concentrate and come up with your best at-bat," Moore said. "I get that we want to be aggressive and make things happen. But you also have to be selective and wait for your pitch to do some damage. That's not happening right now."
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One area that likely will change immediately is the Royals' penchant for hacking at 3-0 pitches. The Royals now have swung at six 3-0 pitches and have just one hit, a seeing-eye single by Nori Aoki. The five other swings actually have resulted in six outs -- one swing produced a double play.
"The results of that are unacceptable," Moore said firmly. "That (situation) has been addressed. Pedro and Ned understand that."
Another area where Moore wants to see improvement is the team's pattern of swinging at pitches out of the zone. The Royals, according to FanGraphs, swing at an above-average rate (30.4 percent) of pitches outside the zone, which is never a good idea for a team that is last in the league in homers (13) and has a woeful .307 on-base percentage (13th out of 15 AL teams).
"That has been addressed, too," Moore said. "Pedro and Ned are working with the hitters every day on their approach, whether it's being ahead in the count, having two strikes on you, or whatever.
"But sure, we know it has to get better. I still believe this group of guys will hit."
Overall, Moore said the team hasn't really come close to playing the type of baseball he anticipated.
"We're just not there right now," he said. "This is not the start we expected. If you look at the whole, we're getting very good starting pitching. (James) Shields and (Jason) Vargas had a couple of rough starts over the weekend, but that's normal regression. It will build back up.
"The bullpen, for the most part, has been good to very good. They've given up runs, but all bullpens give up runs at some points. The bullpen has been strong.
"What has held us back has been the inability to produce runs with runners in scoring position. Once that gets better, we'll get better. It's early May -- a lot of baseball left."
As for the team's rough 0-5 start in May and any comparisons to the 8-20 May from a year ago, Moore said: "We're just not playing well right now. It has nothing to do with the calendar. But we need to start getting some wins right now."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.