Where's the Beef?

Anyone remember the old Wendy’s commercial from the 1980s asking, “Where’s the Beef?” While that slogan dealt with quarter pound hamburgers, my question is in reference to the lack of a slugger in the middle of the Royals’ lineup.

Sure, Billy Butler has some pop and has the potential to crank out 30 HR’s (that is rather optimistic, really), but outside of ol’ Porkchop, who on the Royals current roster poses as a real threat to the opposing pitching staff?

If you and I are thinking along the same lines, no one in particular comes to mind. Jose Guillen? Not so much. How about Rick Ankiel? Doubt it. However, if you dig around in our minor league system, you might find a name that looks familiar and could foot the bill — Kila Ka’aihue.

If you happened to catch our Royals Preview for this season, I mentioned that I would prefer to have Ka’aihue over Guillen as our primary DH. There are a few very important reasons why. First, Ka’aihue knows how to get on base. Although he didn’t have the greatest batting average last season — .252 with AAA Omaha, his OBP was outstanding — .392 last season. Any guesses on his lowest career OBP? The year was 2006 with the AA team where he had a .303 OBP. Let’s put this into perspective. There were three starters on the 2009 Royals who had a lower OBP: Miguel Olivo, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Mike Jacobs. Fortunately, two of those three are no longer with the team; although the one with the worst OBP, a salty .269, still manages to find himself in the starting lineup. But I digress.

Here are the OBP statistics from the Royals last season and Ka’aihue’s stats as well:

Secondly, Ka’aihue DOES have some juice in his bat that could provide a much needed spark to an already abysmal offense. (The offense really kicked it into gear last night against Boston, tying our season-high with four runs!!!). I do realize that we have only played four games and it is April, but I don’t hold much hope for this team generating many more runs than last year’s offensively-challenged club*. Yes, we lost the OBP drains in Jacobs, Buck, and Olivo, but are still stuck with Betancourt and Guillen.

*I will gladly eat crow if we end up being a good offensive ball club.

Opponents of moving Ka’aihue to the DH position will cite that Guillen is being paid $12 million this season, therefore the Royals should get the most out of their money. But that is exactly my point. What are the Royals getting out of Guillen this year? As evidenced last night against Boston, Guillen doesn’t have much left in the tank. He looked absolutely gassed running from 1st to home on Kendall’s double to deep center, where he was gunned down by a relay throw from shallow center-field. As he rounded third, you could see his legs looked like bricks and on a play where just about anyone else in the game of baseball would have scored, Guillen was out.

So, here is what I have garnered on Jose Guillen. His offensive skills are in decline (and have been), he can’t get on base to save his life, can no longer play an outfield position because his legs are shot, therefore has been relegated to DH, and is being paid $12 million this year to do so. Great.

Remember the last time the Royals actually gave one of their over-looked prospects a chance?? You know, the one that was too small, didn’t have enough range, and had a AAA ceiling at best?? Yes, that’s right — Mike Aviles replaced the horrid TPJ at shortstop and became the Royals Player of the Year. Much like it was clear that TPJ wasn’t going to cut it, I think the same should be said for Jose Guillen. Sure, Ka’aihue might not be the perfect replacement, but he can’t be worse than our current option at DH. DM, give the guy a chance to see what he can do at the Major League level.

You’ve got nothing to lose.

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Jose Guillen Kansas City Royals KC Kila Kaaihue MLB Royals

  • Michael Engel

    I concur. My main argument against the “get your money’s worth” on Guillen is that no matter what, if he plays for KC all year, if he goes on the DL, if he gets released and plays for someone else, or if he gets cut and sits at home, the Royals are on the hook for that $12 million. It’s already in their payroll figures. They’ve essentially already paid it, so unless they can trade him (poor skills + awful contract makes that ridiculously unlikely), they’re stuck with that bill.
    I’m not opposed to some “injury” putting him out of action, and Ka’aihue coming up to DH while Guillen is “injured”.

    The main issue, however, is the odd unwillingness to even try some of the younger, perhaps equally or more talented players. Betancourt has started every day. Kendall has started every day. Podsednik has started every day. Aviles, Pena, and Maier have made zero appearances. And sure, it’s only four games, but couldn’t Maier have been a pinch runner any of the times Bloomquist was put in the game? Or could Pena have pinch-hit for Kendall on Wednesday when the Royals needed a hit? I think those decisions are more on Trey than Moore, but it’s not like the GM couldn’t sway his decisions somehow.

    It’s confusing.

  • http://www.esalestrack.com thehulk

    wow, wouldn’t that be ballsy of the royals brass to just outright cut guillen. i would love it. not to flog a dead horse, but that’s guy’s salary is guaranteed and he’s not much of a contributor (on a team that’s not exactly bursting with talent), so get him the hell out of the lineup. for crap’s sake, put aviles in at DH if they don’t want to bring up Kiyahooway. just do something.

    to Michael’s point, my only hope/delusion as to the royals’ insistence on playing the old farts is that if they have a decent first part of the season maybe we can trade them away. but if that’s actually the thought process then that means the first half of the season has already been given up on, and 5 games into the season that’s not something i need to hear. its hard enough being a fan even when i can convince myself that they’re doing everything they can to win.

    • Wally Fish

      After he hit 2 home runs today my wife commented, “that’s good maybe if he plays well the Royals can trade him away.” It’s a valid point, but there is no guarantee that Dayton Moore would actually pull the trigger on a Jose Guillen deal.

      If the team doesn’t run him into the ground, which they are clearly going to do, I can see Kendall having some decent trade value. That is unless he was signed to a 2-year deal this offseason. Oh wait …

      I’m with you Hulk, screw the status quo. Do something to shake the f’ing tree and see what happens. The team just averaged 67 wins a season for the last decade so it can’t get much worse.

      • http://www.esalestrack.com thehulk

        If Jose can contribute enough to a)become trade bait or b)stay on the team as a solid contributor, I will be so shocked (in a good way) and happy to eat crow till I puke. 2 games does not a season make, but man, I would LOVE to be proved wrong about him this year. In a month, if we’re struggling and he’s still DH, I would expect some discontent and his production to reflect that. But it sounds like he has enough pride (and more importantly, is healthy as of now) to really want to produce. Lord knows he has some ground to make up after playing half a season and taking in $12 million

  • http://www.esalestrack.com thehulk

    ps: it officially took Jon 2 posts to use the descriptor “salty”. Loved it. I’m biased, but I think he’s going to work out just fine.

    • Wally Fish

      I’m also clearly biased, but I am loving what Jon and Michael have already brought to the site (including you as a reader/commenter). They are both representing Kings of Kauffman better than I ever imagined.

  • nogdode


    congrats with this post. i think it lit a fire under guillen’s a#$; he is absolutely crushing the ball now … lets hope it lasts.

    • Michael Engel

      I hope it lasts too. We’ve seen these kinds of stretches from Guillen in the past, so it’s a toss up if he’ll keep it up and have a tradeable line about July.

      A friend asked me earlier today how Guillen would have to hit to justify his salary. I figured something like 25 homers at some point…I think the goal really needs to be to have him perform well enough so some power-starved team in mild contention will trade some prospects for him. If he finishes the year as a Royal, he probably reverted back to his old swing-at-it-in-the-dirt ways.

    • Jon Twibell

      Thanks Nogdode,

      I would like to think that Jose Guillen reads my blog posts, but something tells me he isn’t interested…

      But if I have somehow contributed to his recent offensive tear through my bashing of him, then he is making me look like a complete idiot. And I hope that he continues to through out the season because that means the Royals might be a halfway decent ball club!

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