As the July 31 trade deadline nears it appears the Royals might be content to stand pat and remain relatively inactive for the first time in several years. There are a few moves they will look to pursue, but there is a decent chance nothing gets done. I have a short list of moves that I would prefer to be made in order for the club to move forward with their youth movement.
1. Create space for Lorenzo Cain:
I think it would be a mistake to hold on to both Cabrera and Francouer. However, it would not be a mistake to keep one of them. Lorenzo Cain is hitting .320/.390/.517 in 344 at bats in Omaha and is 25 years old. He’s ready to play in the big leagues. The Royals have two options and both result in Cain taking over in centerfield by Aug. 1.
I would argue for the Royals to hold on to Cabrera, who has been an improvement on what he was when the Royals signed him. At 26 years old, he is entering the prime of his career and is currently having his best season yet, hitting .299/.335/.454. The Royals could slide Cabrera over to right field and call up Cain to play center. This would result in trading Francouer, who got off to a great start this season, but has quickly returned to his expected form and is now hitting .269/.319/.454.
Francouer would be the better option to play right field from a defensive standpoint because of his plus arm, however Cabrera appears to project as the better long-term solution offensively and doesn’t hurt them defensively. The stat guys don’t like Francouer at all, but I think his value to this young team is unfairly belittled based on his past struggles at the plate. He’s a “clubhouse guy” who appears to fit in well with this group. Even though I prefer Cabrera, I don’t think it would be a complete disaster if the Royals decided to hold on to Francouer instead. The important part of this equation is getting Cain up to the big leagues.
And whomever the Royals decide to go with would simply be keeping the spot warm until prospect Wil Myers is called-up. That most likely wouldn’t be until late next season. So for now, you would have an outfield that consisted of: LF— Alex Gordon, 27, CF— Cain, 25, and RF— Cabrera, 26.
Cain immediately upgrades the defense up the middle and although many scouts don’t believe he projects as an impact bat in the majors, he hit .306/.348/.415 in 147 at bats with Milwaukee last season. I don’t believe that Cain is a .300 hitter at the big league level, but it’s not unreasonable to expect a similar on base percentage and given his ability to swipe a bag, he could be the Royals permanent answer at leadoff.
2. Out with one G’ in with another:
Johnny Giavotella is hitting .339/.394/.481 in Omaha and has certainly earned the right to supplant the futile, yet gritty Chris Getz at second base. (And yes, I’m being sarcastic in implying that “gritty” is a useful adjective to describe a player’s worth.) As gritty as Getz’s apologists claim him to be, the numbers don’t lie. He’s hitting .253/.313./.281 and has yet to hit a home run this season. In fact, in Getz’s 610 plate appearances with the Royals he has yet to record any home runs—this ranks him first all-time, or worst all-time depending on how you look at it. The abominable, yet gritty, Jason Kendall ranks second with 490 plate appearances. No one else on the list has gone 400 plate appearances without recording a single home run. (We’re talking about the freaking Royals here.)
Giavotella has more extra base hits in the past month at AAA than Getz has had in his entirety with the Royals. Some scouts question Giavotella’s defensive ability, but the same scouts also question how the Royals can leave him in AAA when Getz is the club’s everyday second baseman. There would not be much of market for Getz, so the solution would be to recall Giavotella and send Getz down. (But if Dayton Moore is offered a 12-pack of Boulevard and some Arthur Bryant’s he should take it and worry more about the repercussions of the food-beverage combo the next day than the fans reaction to the deal.)
I hope this is what the Royals do, however it’s probably expecting too much to assume the Royals will simply call up Giavotella and send down Getz. So I’ll concede the fact that if Giavotella is called up, then Mike Aviles, not Getz, will probably go down. Another alternative is Mike Moustakas getting sent down to cure his plate struggles and moving Aviles to third base for the time being, while Giavotella splits time with Getz.
The infield with Giavotella called up: 1B—Hosmer, 21, 2B—Giavotella, 23, 3B—Moustakas, 22, and SS—Escobar, 24. With Aviles as the heavy duty utility man in the ideal scenario.
I don’t know how it projects through the rest of this season, but damn that is an exciting infield for the future isn’t it? It sure beats the hell out of: 1B— Kila Ka’aihue, 27, 2B— Getz, 27, 3B—Wilson Betemit, 29, SS—Escobar, 24.
3. Get rid of Kyle Davies
I’ve spent way too much of my time explaining why this needs to be done. Hell, even experts, who could care less about the Royals, have spent too much time analyzing why this guy shouldn’t be on a major league roster. If for nothing else, release him to end the rare and embarrassing six-man rotation that everyone around major league baseball is blatantly laughing at. I feel this tweet by national baseball writer Joe Sheehan, perfectly encapsulates how dumb the move of Kyle Davies to the rotation truly was and is.
“The #Royals are going to a six-man rotation just to make room for one of the worst SPs in MLB history. The most Royals move ever.”
***Sadly, Davies went out against the Red Sox on Monday night and had potentially the best start of his morbid career; going 6 innings, giving up 1 earned run on 5 hits and recording 6 strike outs. Thus, allowing irrelevant hope to potentially seep through Moore’s already flawed perception of what Davies is. Others, including me, view the start as an anomaly in a long track-record of futility. Son of a …!!***
It’s a short list that could and should be taken care of. If these moves are made then I think we can really begin to to focus on the product on the field for what it is and what it can be. Sure, the pitching staff is still the biggest problem on this team and really only three of the five left—after the dead weight of Davies is dropped—project to be in the future rotation. (Just so we’re clear that’s, Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino, and Luke Hochevar, Discussing Hochevar’s inclusion is for another column.) However, the lineup of the future would be set, with the exception of Salvador Perez at catcher.
Note: Perez was called up to AAA Omaha from AA Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday July 27, so it appears he could end up being the opening day starter next season.
The majority of the position player youth movement would be complete and guys could begin to figure out their roles and settle into them before they try and compete for a division title in 2012. The pitching doesn’t appear to be there, but the offense of the future is almost completely in place. Let’s just hope the trade deadline speeds up the process.
Don’t you just love this time of year?