After a brief stint of idleness, the Royals and General Manager Dayton Moore made a move that I’m quite certain is the exact reason why Twitter was invented. As you know the Boys in Blue added old friend Yunieski Bettancourt Dec. 20 and the internet went all Jerry Seinfeld on the move and rightfully so.
I’m not going to completely delve into my feelings on the move, as our team has done an expansive job of covering it:
Read: Michael Engel
Our polished newcomer: Alan Barrington
And the always animated: Kevin Scobee
I’ll simply state that I was less than thrilled with acquisition—similar to my colleagues—but Yuni will serve a much decreased roll on the 2012 team than he did with the 2010 team, as he will be serving as a full-time backup and “utility man.”
That’s progress, right?
Anyway, my one crack on the move is that I would prefer that the Royals’ utility men actually possess utilities. But nonetheless, defensive deficiencies and all, the “Yuni Bomber” is back in blue and although his range reminds me of Margaret Thatcher on a cold day, he can potentially provide some pop with the bat off the pine.
And hey, it wasn’t until Bettancourt arrived that the Brewers were able to break through and win their first National League Central, so maybe crazy Dayton is on to something?
Alas, today is Christmas so the mood of this post shall remain positive. And as most of you enjoy this holiday and unwrap gifts under the Christmas tree, I’ll give you a few gifts from the Royals that have already been unwrapped and are sure to be keepers.
Eric Hosmer’s bat: Ever since I can remember being a Royals fan, I longed for a young and promising bat like the one Hosmer possesses. He is as close to a polished hitter as you’ll ever see at the age of 21 and he is with the Royals for at least five more years. He can hit for power; 19 home runs, 27 doubles and a .465 slugging in his first big-league season, and he can hit for average; finished the year at .293, but hovered around the .300 mark for much of the last month of the season. The one improvement you’d like to see with Hosmer is his plate discipline, which is something he showed in the minors, but it didn’t exactly translate in his rookie year—taking only 34 walks and seven were intentional. 27 walks in 523 at-bats is far less than ideal from your slugger. However, I fully expect that category to improve drastically in his second season. The Royals have a budding star at first base and he should pay huge dividends in 2012.
Alcides Escobar’s glove: If the Yuni signing did anything positive, it reminded Royals fans just how fortunate we are to have Escobar playing shortstop. He has the kind of range that makes the really difficult plays look routine and turns the impossible ball into an occasional Web Gem. At 25 years old, Escobar is another exciting and youthful infusion in the Royals line-up. I won’t fret about his less-than-stellar performance at the plate, because of the positive nature of this post. But at .254/.290/.343 there’s work to be done and I fully expect hitting coach Kevin Seitzer to help Escobar make the necessary adjustments in his second year with the club.
Alex Gordon’s revival: I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy for a player as I was for Gordon in 2011. He was put under the microscope and had immense pressure as a rookie in 2007 and he didn’t deliver. He showed flashes the next two seasons, but ultimately he floundered. In 2010, he was 26 years old and spent part of an injury-plagued year in the minors learning how to play left field and when he was called up he once again struggled. The fielding transition seemed appropriate, because he just wasn’t getting it at third base, but his batting was still lacking. In 2011, at age 27 and a contract year looming, many felt it was Golden Boys’ last opportunity with the club. And he answered his critics by doing what he said he would do at the beginning of the year, “dominate.” He hit .303/.376/.502 with 23 home runs and he won a Gold Glove in left field. That is one of the more remarkable turnarounds in a players’ career as you might ever see, save Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista. Well done Mr. Gordon.
Dayton Moore’s vision: No, this one isn’t a joke. As much as we like to critique our young GM and his beloved phrase, “Trust the Process,” the man has done some admirable work. Sitting here on Christmas day typing this and examining the Royals roster—which is one of the youngest in the majors—the Royals are an actual contender to win the American League Central this upcoming season and Moore deserves a lot of credit for the decision making that has gone into making this a possibility. Sure, he makes extremely questionable acquisitions and trades at times, but the organization is first rate since he has taken over in evaluating and developing amateur talent. It takes time to build a winner at a small-market franchise like Kansas City and Moore said as much in 2006 when he took the job. Six years later, the bulk of his talent is here and has been infused with leftovers from the tail end of the Allard Baird era and Moore semi-addressed the clubs’ biggest need this offseason: Starting Pitching.
He acquired Jonathan Sanchez in what I believe is one of his savviest moves as GM, by maximizing Melky Cabrera’s value while keeping stability at centerfield—and upgrading the defense up the middle—and not giving up a single prospect. The bullpen is among the best in the majors and its been built with draft picks and a Rule 5 pick that has turned into one of the best closers in baseball. All credit to Moore.
All General Managers undergo kinks when laying out a plan—and Moore’s had several—but he has stayed the course in his vision to make this small-market franchise a winner. Most would agree that the club is still a move or successful prospect arrival away—notably a starting pitcher—from being a staple in the playoff picture for the foreseeable future.
I’ll cheers to that.
Merry Christmas Royals fans.