Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 10/4/12
KANSAS CITY, Mo. All the hype from last spring and all the promise of the Royals' "Our Time" marketing campaign quickly faded in yet another dismal, 90-loss season. But the Royals maintain they really aren't that far away from a quick turnaround. Really. "I think it could happen very, very quickly," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "When I came here, I didn't say it would be a three-year or five-year plan. I just said it would take time and we would continue to work at getting better. And we are getting better. Now it has to show up in the standings. The components are there, long-term, for us to do that." Manager Ned Yost predictably was on board with that philosophy. "I've always been the guy that the glass is half full rather than half empty," Yost said. "I saw a lot of good things. Did we finish where we wanted to finish? No. But for the first time in a long time we finished in third place. "We watched with excitement the development of our young players. They took a big step forward. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer and the young bullpen guys got to play a full year in the big years, especially with expectations tied to it. That was a very positive step forward. "I think going into this winter we have a very solid nucleus of young players that we didn't have before. We can build around that. We have very few question marks in terms of position players. Our defense was very solid. Our bullpen was great. It was a step forward. "I've seen these things before. I don't know what will happen next year. I don't have a crystal ball. There's a lot of things that have to go right for us. We had a lot of injuries this year. But we're poised to take a big step forward." How soon will that big step forward take place? "I can't say but I know how fast it can turn," Yost said. "I think it's exciting to watch someone like Oakland turn it around. It's like Dayton said, it can really turn fast. I've been there when it has turned fast. In Atlanta, in 1990, they won 67 games. In '91, they won 95 games and the first of 14 division championships. "There's a lot of things that have to go right. But we can turn it around fast, too." And Yost said he is fine if expectations, already high before this season began, get much higher in 2013. "Our fans are dying for a winner," Yost said. "They saw a group of young kids coming up who are exciting and athletic, so sure the expectations are going to be up. But a lot of things have to go right. "We're going to have to deal with expectations. We have to learn to handle the stress of that. It was a good experience for them this year." Moore stressed the value of having several players locked into long-term contracts. "I look at how Alex Gordon performed with his contract and was very pleased," Moore said. "And Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez, they got long-term contracts and they performed every single night. We will continue to add to the mix. We have no one who has reached their ceiling as a baseball player. We like the position we're in. "I know where are strengths are and that starts in the middle of the field, from catcher to shortstop and we have to get healthier in center field. Second base is a position we feel we have talent at. Our bullpen is very strong and talented. "You have to have power in your bullpen in the last three innings and we have that." Of course, to get better, the Royals will have to improve their starting pitching, which held them back through much of 2012. "Like 29 other clubs right now, we're going to work on getting better starting pitching," Moore said. The Royals' first priorities will be to sign Jeremy Guthrie, who was outstanding after being acquired from Colorado for Jonathan Sanchez, and to make a decision on former closer Joakim Soria, who underwent Tommy John surgery last spring but already is beginning to throw on the side. The Royals have a club option on Soria for 8 million but are expected to exercise a 750,000 buyout, then perhaps re-sign him. "We'll make those decisions when the time comes," Moore said. "We have spoken to Joakim and we're very candid in saying we would like to have him back. "Jeremy came over here and really provided a spark for us. We'll evaluate that situation and hopefully we can get him back. We'll see. He's a free-agent, obviously. There's always a chance it could get worked out before the free-agency period. We're proud of what Jeremy did here, so we'll just see what happens there." Moore said he is convinced he will get enough funds from ownership to make any deal he deems necessary. "I've felt all along that we've had the necessary resources to get the job done," Moore said. "But we all know that free-agency isn't the sound way to build your team long-term. But we know that it is necessary to speed along the process short-term. We have that flexibility with the payroll. I feel confident about that." Another possibility is that the Royals could trade for starting pitching, though any suitor likely would be after some of the Royals' young prospects. "I wouldn't say anyone is untouchable," he said. "You have to go into any discussion open-minded. But I do think that you can't win a championship without a highly-gifted leader behind the plate, and I don't think you can win a championship without a centerfielder in this ballpark, and I don't think you can win a championship without a top-notch middle infield combination. You also need to have a consistent 3-hole and 4-hole hitter. "So when you make a deal that includes a player in that ilk, you better have someone to fill in that position. You don't want to make a deal that helps you in one area but compromises you in another." And if the right pieces fall into place this off-season, the Royals could find themselves in a legitimate position to contend in 2013. "From my viewpoint, we expect to win a championship," Moore said. "That's our philosophy. Someday we're going to wake up and be very, very good."
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