Behind Closed Doors


All of us, more or less, have had meetings with our bosses, when we’re told, “close the door behind you.” Whatever the meeting is about, when we’re told to shut the door behind us, we know it’s serious business and no one else is supposed to know. Very hush hush.

Mar 5, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Johnny Giavotella (9) reacts after being called out on strikes during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

It never matters. Whatever the meeting is about, word gets out. Middle managers share with other middle managers; workers vent; gossips squeal. Word always gets out.

Even in baseball, when people are supposed to be keeping their mouths shut, beat writers catch wind of impending trades and moves. Scouts whisper to one another about weaknesses in a prospect’s game. Rumors catch fire and within days of their first mention, everyone is in the know.

When it comes to one-on-one meetings between owners and general managers, things are a little different. No one whispers to colleagues, because there are none. GMs stand alone, atop the heap of employees, unique in their position. When writers and fans talk about discussions that take place “behind closed doors,” this is what they’re talking about. These meetings are black holes, the heavies talking about big things–nothing escapes the event horizon of its own immense gravity. They leave us to assume and guess what was said. Were threats made? Jokes? Shared delusions?

When Chris Getz was recalled to the major leagues only a couple weeks after Ned Yost made it clear that Johnny Giavotella would play the remainder of the year as the Royals starting second baseman, it forces us to wonder what prompted the decision. Even though the Royals have no hope of making the post-season (well, most calculations place it less than 1%, which isn’t strictly no hope, I guess) , Dayton Moore has made it clear that the Royals intend to claw for every victory that will lead nowhere. Why?

When speculating about recent meetings between David Glass and Dayton Moore, it is difficult to figure out if they agree about the trajectory of the team. However, moves like demoting Giavotella and recalling Getz would suggest Moore is having his strings pulled one way or another.

Is this part of Moore’s plan to pull the players out of a losing culture? Did David Glass argue to trade for better value or was he finally determined to have a winning season after so many losing ones? Maybe many years down the road, we will know what was said behind those closed doors if anyone cares at that point, but for now, ownership and management have emerged all smiles and solidarity.

The Royals aim to win games.

Without a chance to make the post-season (right, sorry, a small one), in the face of missed trade opportunities, losing valuable commodities for nothing in return, increased salaries through arbitration, holes in the lineup, struggles, regression, the Royals are making a run at their first winning season in ten years. This leaves fans in a surprisingly uncomfortable position. Of course we all want the Royals to win. We want them to march over the division this year, stick it to the Tigers and beat the Indians back down where we thought they be at the beginning of the season. Winning now sounds fantastic.

But c’mon. They can’t. Not really. They would have to play on par with the greatest teams of all time to make it back into the playoff hunt. Dayton Moore and David Glass have to know that this is not one of the best teams of all time. Even if Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas continue exactly as they’ve been playing for the past month, if the pitching staff continues with a sub-4.00 ERA, if Gordon and Butler pick it up, the Royals still don’t have a good enough offense to win 2/3 of their games.

Now here we are, rooting for the Royals to win, knowing it won’t mean anything, wishing they would trade assets, knowing the won’t. We’re simultaneously dreaming about a winning season, one that might make the players realize they’re not a bad team, and hoping that the front office does the sensible thing and makes moves that put them in a better position to win next year, when it means something.

Right now, the Red Sox, and probably other teams, have shown interest in a rejuvenated Luke Hochevar, who will be a welcome addition to almost any bullpen. Ervin Santana could bring back a nice haul from the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are looking to improve their rotation and their bullpen. They have a system stacked with talent, including a dominant shortstop/second-baseman named Chris Owings. He’s not a top-100 talent, but is mashing the ball in AAA and could improve the Royals right now. The Royals could get better now and for the future, but they say they won’t make moves.

Maybe that’s to keep up troop morale. There is surely comfort to players who don’t want to be uprooted. Also, the fact that they gave us Gio for the rest of the season and then demoted him proves that the front office is more than willing to change its mind in a ten game span. Maybe they will see reality as the rest of us see it, or at least admit what they’ve been feeling all along and drop the ruse. If that does come, it needs to happen fast. The trade deadline on July 31 is rapidly approaching and the Royals will be sitting high and mighty if they start selling.