With the early promotions of Eric Hosmer and now Danny Duffy and Everett Teaford, there has been some debate amongst Royals fans about the timing of said promotions. Why call these guys up so early when it could cost big Super Two money down the road?
Well, I want to talk about this a bit. A lot of other folks have mentioned it on Twitter or radio shows or wherever, but it bears repeating because, well, it’s a major point of disagreement right now.
To start, I’ll come clean: I like the way the Royals are handling things. And I’ll tell you why.
I’ve never liked the trend of gaming service time. I understand why it’s done and I respect that clubs want to save some money down the road, but I flat-out don’t like it. At all. They’re basically telling deserving minor leaguers that no matter how well they play or how advanced they are at the plate, in the field, and/or at the pitching rubber, they won’t get the call until a certain date. They have to play well, but, in the end, it doesn’t move them any sooner. This bothers me.
How does it work at other levels in the minors? When the player is ready, they are bumped up. They show they can hit or pitch or field and they earn a promotion. There’s no gaming the clock or holding them back. As long as there is a spot on the team at the next level, they can take that spot. It’s a fluid system and it makes sense. Put players where they can play and improve.
It all changes when promotions to the majors are concerned. Money becomes involved. Money so often trumps the best baseball decision and the best option for a player’s advancement. Clubs start to think about how much they’ll have to dish out in a few years rather than what might be best for a player. It is a business, after all, so there are many operations that take more of a financial standpoint than a personnel standpoint. When they do that, fans start following suit. Soon enough, everyone is more concerned with the economic outlook than with promoting based on performance and ability.
If I were a player and a team gamed my service time by holding me back, I would be frustrated. Even after I earned an opportunity to reach the majors, they kept me in AAA. It would create ill will for me, even though I love when players are loyal to their teams. I’m not saying this is the same for all players, but I can see how it would stir a little frustration.
So, really, you’re (possibly) saving the team money in the long run and potentially creating a tough situation with a player in the meantime. That’s not the biggest thing right now, either. It’s very possible, maybe even likely, that the definitions of a Super Two player or the whole system in general changes following this winter. There are many rumblings that this could happen. If it does, that changes the whole scale anyway. We have no way of knowing exactly what will come out of that, so would you rather promote a player when he deserves it or bank on Super Two sticking around following this season and hold that player back to possibly save money?
From the outside, it seems simple. To me, I give the player the shot he’s earned. When major leaguers are injured and sidelined, I fill in with any deserving players, be they prospects or veterans looking for another shot. When a player deserves to play over another guy, he should get to play. It’s that way within a single roster and it should be that way across levels. That’s how Hosmer got to Kansas City and it’s how one of Duffy and Teaford got Vin Mazzaro‘s old spot. And I love that the Royals are giving guys a shot when they earn it.
You can whine and moan about what this means down the road for the Royals’ payroll, but when the payroll is as low as it is now and many millions are likely to come off the books after this season, there’s not much room to complain. Will we retain all of the players we have? Potentially not. But when you give the deserving players promotions and create a system where guys enjoy playing together, there’s a cohesiveness that gives them a reason to stick around.
I know this has sped up the projections for call-ups quite a bit, but opportunities are arising and prospects are earning the vacated spots. It’s as simple as that.
There’s a lot to consider when calling up players to the majors. Are they really ready? How much will it end up costing us to call them up? What do we do if they fail? Really, though, money should be one of the lesser concerns. That won’t be a pressing issue for a few years and we get a chance to see how these guys do in the majors before worrying about such things.
They earned their chance, so let them play. The Royals are following this philosophy and I salute them for it. And you should, too.