Dick Kaegel and KCRoyals.com is reporting that the team has shifted Pedro Grifol to coaching catchers, and has replaced him with Dale Sveum as hitting instructor. Mike Jirschele will take over Sveum’s duties as third-base coach.
The move comes almost exactly a year after GM Dayton Moore brought in George Brett and Grifol to replace Jack Maloof and Andre David as the Royals hitting instructors. Grifol was credited for helping turn the offense around after suffering a horrible early-season slump in 2013, similar to the one the team is in right now.
When the Royals announced the move on Thursday, the team stood last in the American League in runs scored (197), last in home runs with 21, and second to last in OPB at .306.
To me, the move is a clear reflection of the desperation felt by manager Ned Yost and Dayton Moore. With James Shields in the last year of his contract, and the offseason acquisitions of Norichika Aoki and Omar Infante to shore up offensive holes, the Royals brain-trust can no longer point to some future year as their target to contend.
The Royals must make a strong playoff push this season or else Moore’s and Yost’s failure will be clear to owner David Glass. More importantly, they will have no credible reply to restless fans.
Unless there is a rapid turn-around, Dayton Moore’s rebuilding project will be revealed as a failure. Despite widespread recognition for accumulating talented prospects, the Royals have failed to develop them into productive major-league players.
The failure has been particularly acute with top hitting prospects Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Both have disappointed at the major-league level: with Moose not hitting enough to keep a job, and Hosmer’s Punch-and-Judy production making him a disappointment for a guy touted as having “light-tower” power as a high-school hitter.
“The bottom line is we’re struggling with elevation and we’ve swung at pitches down in the zone, probably way too much. From thigh high to the top of the strike zone, we’re not doing enough damage on pitches like that.”
Identifying the problem is a good start, but that doesn’t guarantee he can do anything about it.
What’s particularly painful is that the guy who was doing the job in Kevin Seitzer is now coaching the high-octane offense of the Toronto Blue Jays, who lead the American League in runs scored with 268. I said last year that firing Kevin Seitzer was a disaster. We are now seeing clear evidence.
The irony is that Ned Yost canned Seitzer for the team’s power failure after the Royals hit 131 home runs in 2012. The current edition has 22 home runs in 53 games—on pace for a season total of 67.
Maybe, instead of firing hitting coaches, the Royals need to fire Ned Yost and Dayton Moore.