KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With all the talk these days about whether the Royals are going to be buyers or sellers as the July 31 trade deadline approaches, Royals general manager Dayton Moore is adamant that the Royals won’t be raising any white flag on the 2013 season.
“Our philosophy isn’t going to change just because we’re six games under,” Moore told FOXSportsKansasCity.com. “We’re not going to back off.
“I don’t like the term ‘sellers.’ If and whatever we do (in terms of trades), it will be done with the interest of winning more games now. We’re going to keep pushing in all areas to make us a better overall team and ultimately to compete better now.”
Although Moore did not mention right-hander Ervin Santana, who will be a free agent after this season, it could mean that if Santana is dealt — and that is not necessarily a sure thing — the return likely would be ready-now players who could help the Royals win this season and get closer to playoff contention.
“We feel we owe it to the core of players we have signed in the last few years to compete now,” Moore said. “There is a window of opportunity to win for this group, and we’re in the early stages of that window but we’re not going to back off the goal to win.
“I still believe there is a tremendous upside to this team. We’ve got five of our players from our system on this team who are legit All-Stars — Aaron Crow, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez and Greg Holland. And it is our job to do what is necessary to keep adding pieces to make this group better.
“I know we haven’t played our best baseball yet. There’s still 70 games left.”
Moore pointed to a particularly tough stretch in the schedule in May and another challenging stretch the Royals are in now as reasons to be optimistic about the next two-plus months.
“You can rank those stretches of games any way you want, but I know they were difficult patches,” Moore said. “We’re in the middle of one right now with Cleveland, Oakland, New York, Cleveland again, Detroit and Baltimore. It’s a challenge and we need to perform better than we have. We know that.
“But basically we’ve been close to a .500 team through the first half of the season, and we still haven’t clicked on all cylinders yet. I still believe that we have a good run in us.
“We’ve had some good stretches earlier in the season and we need some more. This team is capable. And we’re going to keep pushing until we get there.”
Moore said he has been pleased with the pitching staff through the first half, a staff that has allowed the fewest earned runs of any staff in the American League.
“We’ve had a few struggles just recently,” Moore said. “But overall, it’s pretty much been the staff we envisioned during the offseason. And it certainly can get even better.
“We know Tim Collins is better than he’s shown. We know other guys who could have big second halves.”
Pitching and defense have not been the issue for the Royals, who are eight games behind Detroit, which comes to Kansas City for a three-game set starting Friday.
But Moore isn’t necessarily pointing his finger at an offense that has underperformed, to say the least. The Royals are 13th in the league in runs scored.
“It comes down to winning as a team,” Moore said. “Certainly, we’re hoping we get more production. But if you look at what happened in New York and to some degree in Cleveland, it was the pitching that stumbled a bit.
“It’s a team game. You do whatever it takes — pitching, defense, hitting — to win.”
For now, and quite possibly through the July 31 trade deadline, the focus remains on winning and getting back near contention.
“Obviously, the ultimate goal is a world championship,” Moore said. “But how many winning seasons have we had in the last 20 years? Two? We have to overcome that hurdle first and then move past it, and we’re trying to do it as quickly as possible.
“This is the group of players that is going to get us there, and we’ll continue to add whatever we can to this group to help.”
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.