KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Playoff talk has subsided in these parts, thanks to the Royals' recent seven-game losing streak. And the adjusted goal for the Royals appears to be finishing over .500 for the first time in 10 years.
But Royals general manager Dayton Moore still believes a corner has been turned, though he knows disappointed fans aren't in the mood for consolation prizes.
"I really feel that based on how we decided to build this team, we're ahead of schedule," Moore told FOXSportsKansasCity.com. "You know, every baseball team that is constructed gets exposed. We know we have probably seen that, and certainly realize that we have things we need to improve upon.
"But I am very encouraged with the group of players we have. There's not one player on this current roster that is on the downside of his career. They all have upside.
"So, it's our job to stay with the group of players and add talent to it."
Moore's roster may not be on the downside, but almost to a player, the Royals offensively are all having down years -- Eric Hosmer excluded.
That is something Moore has no explanation for.
"I don't know. I really don't," he said. "All of our players know they are accountable. And going forward, they know they have to produce."
While two years ago Moore indicated that the goal was for the Royals to push for the playoffs in 2014, that timetable was accelerated to 2013 when he made his "all-in" trade for James Shields and Wade Davis, giving up prized up prospect Wil Myers in the process.
But while the Royals surged toward playoff contention by winning 19 of 24 games coming out of the All-Star break, they faded soon after and now sit seven games behind the Oakland A's for the final wild-card spot. To say they are still in contention would be overly generous.
But Moore adamantly defends the Shields trade.
"I felt we had the chance to get a top rotation starter in James Shields and another starter in Wade Davis with some upside," Moore said, "and I didn't feel that opportunity would be there again in this off-season, based on the climate of the industry and the information we had at the time.
"Regardless of how the season ends, this is a talented group that is in the early stages of an opportunity to play winning baseball, championship baseball.
"They shouldn't fail, as long as their attitude is right. That's what we hold on to."
Yet Moore also knows the recent swoon will stir up his critics again, critics who had been quieted only briefly during the post-break surge.
"Criticism goes with the territory," he said. "You can't be concerned with what people say about you or write about you, whether it's flattering or whether it's critical. You just can't lead that way.
"All you can do is make your decisions based on the information you have. You go through your process and you make those decisions.
"Look, I'm a competitor. I will fight for what needs to be defended and who needs to be defended. But I try to treat everyone with kindness and respect."
Moore, who will be in the final year of his contract in 2014, said he feels no pressure from any criticism, either.
"It's not even something you think about," he said. "We have so much to focus on with our own organization that you can't even think about what other people say or write, whether it's good or bad.
"There isn't time in the day to get caught up in all of that."
While Moore isn't conceding 2013, he does admit that he and his staff will have work to do this off-season.
"I can't control what happens on the field," he said. "I certainly can control who is on the field.
"We're going to have to expect our players to improve, each one of them. And we're going to have to probably make a trade or sign another free agent in order to improve. There are always going to be situations with a major league team where you have to make adjustments to the roster. That's always going on, with all teams."
Will Moore have the financial resources to keep improving the roster?
"I don't think it's going to be about the money," he said. "It's going to be about the players. We're just going to build a championship team with the resources we have.
"We've always felt we have built this organization the right way. You have to trust in the talent of your players. You have to believe that at the end of the day, the guys will become productive players. And then you build on that with whatever other pieces you need."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.