Johnny Giavotella (9) Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

A Predictable Storyline

Sometimes organizations continually push the envelope in terms of their own progression. Players are acquired, and then when a mistake is realized, a different path is taken. That’s how you learn, how you evolve, how you avoid having the same outcome year after year. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.

Sometimes organizations never get outside of their box. Their schema is ingrained in every aspect of their operations and they are never – out of presumably fear, but possibly ignorance – altered for any reason, despite what evidence there is to do so.

On Sunday the Royals announced that Johnny Giavotella was optioned to Triple A and they plan to start some combination of Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt at second base.

This should come as no real surprise to any fan. The Royals, who have made questionable decisions with the roster over the past five seasons and have already established a loose understanding of how outs work, have elected to field what may be the worst hitting middle infield in baseball.

The idea that a young pitching staff needs to have a quality defense behind it in order to not lose confidence, or whatever reason may be given, is nice. But when a lineup will consist of No. 7, No. 8, and No. 9 (and possibly No. 6 as well) batters that will all struggle to post on-base percentages of just .300, just how important is their defense, really? Hitters that struggle at baseball’s most fundamental skill of not making outs on offense can’t be considered valuable to the team as everyday players. But, in the case of Getz and Betancourt, all of that is ignored because of some indefinable, and statistically disproven, ability to make plays on ground balls.

When all is considered of Betancourt’s inability to get on base or Chris Getz’s inability to bat a ball into the outfield, none of that is nearly as frustrating as it is to know that this decision was made before Spring Training. Because, don’t kid yourself, it was.

Responsible organizations don’t make roster/playing time decisions in a year that they’re supposed to contend or have some “Mission” to attain, based off of what amounts to 40 at-bats in scrimmage games. If so, there would be no greater argument given to the idea of sample sizes.

If Giavotella came into camp with a bad attitude, out of shape, or some other trait detrimental to his production, then sending a player down for a “wake up call” could be warranted. But nothing of the sort has even been hinted at over the past month.

Instead, stories of Getz’s completely revamped offensive game or Betancourt’s transition to second base have littered the Royals narrative. This was never a position that was Giavotella’s to lose, as it should have been, but instead it was his job to win. And the decision of whether the younger, more talented Giavotella had won the job or not, was made before camp ever opened. He doesn’t fit in the box of the type of player the Royals like. He’s not safe enough. He gets on base too much.

As Rob Neyer wrote, this is the status quo for an organization that has continually circled the parking lot around the arena of interesting. There are no surprises; there are no changes. There is only a process in which to operate in the same manner that the operation has always been done.

Just as there are those defending the Phillies for their decision to let go of Ryan Madson while overpaying for Jonathan Papelbon, simply because now Madson is hurt, there will be those that defend the decision to play Getz and Betancourt if, somehow, they out-perform their histories and are at least slightly below league-average. It will be credited to some kind of “human element” and some kind of knowledge that baseball people possess that no one else ever could. It will be defended because the outcome was favorable.

But, just as is the case with the Phillies, favorable outcomes do not excuse bad process. And the process that concludes with Giavotella in Triple A and Getz and Betancourt sharing time at second base, was a predictable one.


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Tags: AL Central Baseball Chris Getz Johnny Giavotella Kansas City Royals KC KC Royals MLB Yuniesky Betancourt

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