May 2, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Aaron Crow (43) walks off the field after being relieved against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Why Not Aaron Crow?

Aaron Crow was a first round draft pick.  Aaron Crow was supposed to be a starter.  Aaron Crow has some pretty good stuff and even some local ties.  Why does Luke Hochevar get an infinitely long leash while Crow is banished to the bullpen forever?

Last spring was supposed to be a shot for Aaron Crow, after having some success in the bullpen, to pull a Greinke and get back to being a starter.  When the Royals broke camp Crow was back in the bullpen despite a truly dismal starting rotation of Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar, Jonathan Sanchez, Felipe Paulino, and Danny Duffy.  The loss of Joakim Soria seemed to scare them more than Jonathan Sanchez’s control problems, which in hindsight is hard to believe.  It is possible that the Royals made the right choice since Sanchez had just been traded for and was not expected to be the disaster that he was.  Paulino and Duffy were legitimately exciting as far as potential (and still are), and Chen and Hochevar had done enough the previous year to warrant a look.  Still, it never seemed like Crow got a real chance to get back in the rotation mix.

Then the season started, and Hochevar summed up is career on opening day by taking the wind out of the sails of the team and fan base in one inning.  By the end of the year the only thing being talked about was how badly the Royals needed starting pitching, but there was never a mention of Aaron Crow.  He is only 26, and will be this entire year, and there is no reason he could not have been given a shot.  We know he can get guys out from the bullpen, just like Wade Davis who has shown up and been handed his spot over deserving players like Luis Mendoza despite being older and also needing to go to the bullpen to have success.

At this point the only argument I can come up for Luke Hochevar is that he is not the strongest mentally, and trying to be the “ace” ever since being called up has been a problem for him.  Now that he is the 5th starter and James Shields is here, Luke can relax and do his thing.  Other than that it just seems like the Royals took him number one overall and they will not be proven wrong.  All Dayton would have had to say was that the draft in 2006 happened as the team was being passed off to him.  This doesn’t have to be his guy unless David Glass knows otherwise.  Crow is certainly on Dayton’s head, he has been a decent reliever the last two years, but the 12th pick overall is not one spent with the bullpen in mind.

There is plenty of reason to believe that at least one of the starters in this rotation is going to struggle this year, and with any rotation there is injury risk.  I am not going to say Aaron Crow would be a raving success if moved to the rotation.  He may be built to be a bullpen guy.  But it is hard to think he would be worse than Luke Hochevar.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Last I heard Crow is still a two-pitch pitcher. That’s what caused him trouble in the minors as a starter and had people calling him a bust before he made the Royals’ bullpen where his stuff plays. With the rotation depth this year including the main four, plus Hoch, Chen, Mendoza, Will Smith, Yordano Ventura, Nate Adcock, and three returning TJS rehabbers, Crow would be about #14 on the rotation depth chart. His best chance of starting is to get traded someplace like Houston where he can make the transition at AAA, then make the big club. I like Crow, but he is what he is.

    • alexfielder

      You’re right, he is still a two-pitch pitcher, which is why he gets little to no consideration as a starter. Plus, when a guy is doing an excellent job out of the pen, why weaken the pen? Perhaps Shields’ presence will help Crow learn a third pitch. The announcers said today that Santana has been talking with Shields about his changeup. Anyone else who’s interested should gather ’round.

      • Brian Henry

        He is mostly a two pitch guy, and guess what? He will only ever be a two pitch guy if you never work him on it. The Royals main four is mediocre with possible problems if Ervin Santana repeats last year and Wade Davis turns out to need back in the bullpen, and like I said, they are pitchers so injury can always become a problem. Hochevar is a disaster and Chen is over the hill. It is not inconceivable that you might need Mendoza, Smith, and one other in the near future. Ventura isn’t ready and Adcock has never shown the ability to start in the majors. Duffy and Paulino I both like a lot but will not be available until mid summer at best.

        • jimfetterolf

          I assume that he gets worked on. 1st round draft picks get coaching. Whether or not he buys in is another question, as in the cases of Hochevar and Hosmer or even Mendoza beginning the ’10 season in Omaha.

          As for the ifs, Verlander throws a lot of pitches, Chris Sale looks like a TJS candidate, players get hurt, they regress, can happen to anyone. With talent it all gets down to health and mechanics and humans aren’t machines. That’s why they play the games.

      • jimfetterolf

        Great point, saw that on Santana. Lee Judge asked Crow one time to show him his change up grip and Aaron showed him three. Lee asked why he had so many and was answered, “Because none of them work.” If Crow can master a change, nothing else he’s closer material.