You usually don't see the departure of an Assistant General Manager make this much news. But losing Dayton Moore is big news to any Braves' fan that has realized over the past few years just how important this gentleman has been to the organization.
Those of us who knew him, and even most of the ones that had heard or read enough about him, were hoping and praying he would one day be the General Manager of the Atlanta Braves. He was perfect for it, a clone of the man he would have replaced, but with an even better temperament and personality. His vision for the future of this franchise made you know the flags flying in left field would certainly be moving over to right field in the near future to make room for future championships.
But he's gone, and it's fair to wonder how his departure to the Midwest will impact the Atlanta Braves. The main concern in my mind is the potential to lose more members of the front office in the next few years to the Royals. Dayton said the other day that 90% of the people he knows in baseball are with the Braves, and you know that it will be natural for him to want to take some of those people with him.
It won't happen soon, however. The player development people are under contract, and the Royals' minor league coaches are under contract as well. We might see a few leave after this season, either to join the Royals on the big league staff or in the minor leagues.
As for the scouts leaving, well let's talk about the top scout. Dayton Moore and Roy Clark are like brothers, and it was a very emotional week for both of them. But as long as John Schuerholz is the General Manager of the Atlanta Braves, I think Clark is going to stick around. Clark has absolutely no desire to be a GM. As he says, "I'm allergic to starch," meaning he much rather be out in the field than in an office wearing a suit and tie. There is no doubt he has the talent as an evaluator to be a GM, but for now Clark is happy where he is.
And that should help the Braves in retaining its scouts. While everyone who worked under him, including Clark, was loyal to Moore, the scouts are first and foremost loyal to Clark. He hired most of them, and the relationships he has with his area scouts are solid. I would frankly be surprised to see many or any scouts leave for the Royals as long as Clark remains the Braves' Scouting Director.
Let's pray he doesn't leave anytime soon. Clark is one of the best, if not the best, in the business at what he does. And while Moore is getting the spotlight this week, no one should underestimate the talent of Clark of leading a scouting staff that repeatedly finds solid talent. He‘ll be conducting his seventh draft on Tuesday, and I certainly hope he‘s just getting started in his Braves‘ career.
One thing that won't be influenced by Moore's departure is the draft. While Moore was definitely involved in the process, Clark and the rest of his cross checkers and area scouts have had this wheel in motion for a full year. There's a clear indication in that draft room of who the Braves are going to target on Tuesday, and Dayton not being there will not change a thing. Believe me, the scouts will miss his presence, but with Clark driving that car, the road will be very smooth on Tuesday.
A particular worry I have about Moore's departure is his voice in the front office. Schuerholz listened to Moore, and it was Dayton that really had a voice in getting many of our young kids to the big leagues. He convinced Schuerholz that kids like Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann would handle the big leagues well. So now that he's gone, who is going to fight for our prospects? Who is going to say, "John, I think this kid is ready and he's someone we can count on."
Moore and Frank Wren are (or I guess I should write were) the two executives closest to Schuerholz in Atlanta, but some of the scouts on the road looking at major league talent are more likely to argue that trades are the answer, and to be damned with the minor league talent. Now you can say, "Hold on, we've traded a ton of prospects (Andy Marte, Dan Meyer, Zach Miner, Bubba Nelson, Adam Wainwright) the last few years." Yes we have, but if not for Dayton Moore we might have traded twice that many.
I'm not saying we should hold on to all our minor league talent, since there's no doubt some trades are coming at some point this summer. But Moore was a good buffer for Schuerholz. He fought for our kids, and despite the troubles of the team right now, our kids are not the problem. It was just good for someone to be in the front office that could make sure Schuerholz wouldn't be reactionary and trade a prospect at every turn.
And it's not just trades. I know some of the prospects that Dayton Moore truly believed in. He believed many of our kids could succeed at the big league level as soon as their development was over. Will these same kids get the chance now that he's not there to fight for them? I‘m not sure.
So it's going to be interesting to see how Moore's departure is going to impact this organization. His absence, in so many ways, will be felt. He was an outstanding individual, and so much of our success the last five years was due to his talents. And while we hope he builds the most successful franchise in the American League over the next few years, as Braves fans we have to hope our team doesn't suffer much for it in the process.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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