Royals proving success last year was no fluke
On a crisp, cool night last October, John Schuerholz walked through the gates of Kauffman Stadium. Every seat was full, bunting hung proudly from the railings. There was a buzz. It was all so familiar. “That’s what we used to have all the time,’’ he told The Associated Press, reflecting on the Royals’ improbable run to the World Series. “To see that back, and the banners over the plaza and all over the town, it was heartwarming. It really was.’’
Kansas City had once again become a baseball town.
And if anybody thought that it was a fluke, a lucky run to a memorable autumn climax, the Royals have done enough to prove them wrong: Seven players chosen to this week’s All- Star Game, a big lead in the AL Central, some of the best young talent in the game in their clubhouse.
“I’m happy for the organization,’’ said Schuerholz, who was part of the initial front office when the franchise began in the late 1960s, then built another dynasty with the Atlanta Braves, where he still serves as the team’s president.
“They deserve what they have,’’ he said, “but it took a lot of work to get there.’’
That work fell on the shoulders of Dayton Moore, one of Schuerholz’s top lieutenants in Atlanta. He turned down other general manager openings, but the job in Kansas City resonated with Moore, who grew up in Wichita and rooted for the Royals as a kid.
Over most of a decade, he tirelessly rebuilt their farm system. He poured money into scouting and player development. He established academies in the Caribbean and pushed boundaries of the status quo in search of players — retreads, hot prospects and virtual unknowns.
None of that has changed with their recent success, either.
The frugal franchise could not afford to keep staff ace James Shields when he hit free agency, so they allowed him to sign in San Diego. Moore then signed Edinson Volquez, Chris Young and Kris Medlen to serve as replacements. None of them made headlines nationally — the signings were met with a collective, ‘Meh’ — but they have far exceeded expectations.
Volquez has been the most dependable starter in the Kansas City rotation. Young has been perhaps the best. And Medlen is coming off his second Tommy John surgery but could give Kansas City a big second- half boost if he is even a fraction of the pitcher he once was.
That’s just the starting rotation, too.
American League’s Mike Moustakas (8), of the Kansas City Royals celebrates with teammate after the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Cincinnati.