September maintains a sort of spot of fascination among baseball fans, and, it can be said, for a few different reasons. Some fans are clamoring to see their team clinch a playoff spot or run a wild streak to carry them past the first-place club. Others just hope to tread enough water to stay above .500 for another year or even the first year in a long while. And still others are thrilled to see their teams’ top minor league performers get their shot in the spotlight, whether for a quick appearance or for good.
The point is that September is full of hope. At the start of the month, there are another 25-30 games to play. Teams can manage to climb ten games in the standings with a hot streak and their opponents’ corresponding cold streaks. With the introduction of new call-ups from the minors, the balance changes slightly. The fresh blood mixes up the standard game plan for teams and the new variety (and hope) create a fresh experience for fans.
Kansas City is, of course, right in the middle of this influx of new blood.
The Royals are about to experience this to a higher degree. The team has already called up Yamaico Navarro and Jesse Chavez to shore up the roster in two needed areas (it’s debatable whether Chavez will do anything). While the Stormchasers are after the PCL Championship, the call-ups will be on hold. After the series ends sometime this weekend, expect a few more.
Still, the Royals have 13 games remaining. By the time they may call up more guys, they’ll be down to 8-10 games remaining. You can debate if it’s worth it to call players up for such a short time, but news has already broke camp that Jeff Francis will only have one more start this season. That means that some Omaha starter will get a shot at one or two games. Luis Mendoza (PCL pitcher of the year), Sean O’Sullivan, and Vin Mazzaro are all in the running, but it’s anybody’s call as to who gets the promotion.
It’s more debatable whether any of the position players get any notable call-ups. I would love to see Lorenzo Cain and David Lough get some time with Clint Robinson possibly logging a couple games (if his sore side isn’t bothering him too much). And what about Kila Ka’aihue? Kelvin Herrera? Brandon Sisk?
That’s where the problem develops from a simple question to a question of how many guys can you possibly play in those last two weeks. And, besides, what would they gain from that time?
For too long, I thought of this month as a time of exposure and of calling up random prospects to fill gaps and get them some experience. It never seemed like a complicated thought to me. Since the Royals haven’t had a wave of prospects like this rolling through the minor league system since…ever, it never occurred to me that this simple question could actually become a considerably complex one.
The Royals have resident rookies at several positions and players of the future at several others. The entire infield, for example, is booked. The outfield has been so productive that you wonder if you really want to take those guys out. And Billy Butler is the DH in every game. Always. So, what can you change?
That’s why Cain and Lough came to mind. If the Royals are feeling adventurous, call up Jarrod Dyson. Run the full “outfield of centerfielders” that has been plaguing AAA batters. Give each of those guys a few games to both show the fanbase the outfield’s future and get those guys to Kansas City. The last week of the season won’t change too many minds about this outfield, so mix it up a little. Give them some time and see what each can do (especially Cain and Lough). Let’s see the future of this lineup.
As for the pitchers, bring up Herrera. He’ll need to be on the 40-man soon anyway, so why not? If you want to really open up the bullpen, call all three of the aforementioned starters up and give them all time. There’s no reason to keep trotting Collins and Crow out there on their first full major league season. Save the arms and spread out the time.
And with guys like Robinson or Kila, it’s more difficult. I personally don’t want to see Kila playing over Hosmer. I would love to see Robinson out there, but I’d rather see Butler on a day-to-day basis. I just can’t argue for them all to get time.
The Royals won’t lose 100 games now that they’ve won their 63rd. You wouldn’t change that much of the offense, even though the outfield has been the most productive part. How much damage can you really do? September promotions aren’t truly telling of players’ lasting performance anyway, but no greater damage is being done by a few games.
It’s the sort of situation where you can argue either way. There are positives and negatives. For me, the prospect of seeing a team with Cain and Lough in the lineup with the other young guys for a few games outweighs the issues of losing production. If worse comes to worst, the Royals end up with a better draft pick for 2012. Things can’t be too terrible.
So, what do you do? Do you call a bunch of guys up, a few, or none?