Mar 5, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Johnny Giavotella (9) reacts after being called out on strikes during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Option Johnny Giavotella to Triple A. Chris Getz To Start.


The Royals announced that second baseman Johnny Giavotella was optioned to Triple A on Saturday, a move that sets Chris Getz up as the opening day second baseman.

The decision isn’t surprising, as Getz entered spring the assumed favorite and hit better in spring training games. Getz enters Saturday with a .372/.426/.512 line, including a home run. He also has three steals in four attempts. Giavotella hasn’t been hitting poorly, but his .267/.283/.400 line just wasn’t enough to overtake Getz. His one non-base hit was a hit by pitch and he had no stolen bases.

It’s just not enough to unseat the incumbent.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’d expect me to be upset, to lead the charge towards One Royal Way, pitchfork and torch in hand. I’ve long been a believer in Giavotella. He’s hit at every level of the minor leagues, and hit well. Not just well enough for a second baseman, either. Well for any player in the league. At one point in 2011, he had more base hits than anyone in professional baseball and shortly after was called up.

I wonder how much his hip injury bothered him in late 2011 and if he’d have hit better at the time if 2012 would have been less of a competition. He was called up in May 2012 but never got consistent playing time until Getz got hurt late in the year. After that, he didn’t take the opportunity.

It’s possible that Giavotella won’t be able to approach his minor league numbers in the big leagues. To this point, that’s what it looks like. The Royals would have been better off spending 2012 learning more about him as a big leaguer with an everyday job, and if he couldn’t do the job in a full season of 600 at bats, then at least they’d know that he couldn’t do it. Why the Royals say they think 1000 plate appearances is their benchmark for evaluating a player, but decide Giavotella’s fate after less than 400 surprises me, but not that much. At this point, they have their eyes set on pushing for the division and they feel that Getz is an everyday player and that they can’t wait for Giavotella to sort it out.

For what it’s worth, Bob Dutton has said that the Royals feel more comfortable with Giavotella’s defense, which was always behind his bat in the minors. Dutton said in a Q&A that “I think club officials believe his defense is good enough to play every day — if he hits.” And he’s hit well enough in spring training, but hasn’t gotten on base well enough, and hasn’t done either well enough to surpass Getz.

Mar 16, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals base runner Chris Getz (17) slides into second base in the eighth inning during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs at HoHoKam stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY Sports

That’s the reality. If Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, and Alcides Escobar continue to develop, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon merely produce at their typical levels, and maybe Lorenzo Cain breaks out, whoever’s at second won’t be a big deal.

It would be disingenuous of me to be upset about this decision. I knew Getz was the starter going into spring training, and he’s done everything he’s had to do to hold onto the job. It’s that simple. I prefer Giavotella as the option with more room to grow, but it’s not my decision.

Reports out there say that Getz has adjusted – again – his batting stance from the upright “more power” stance last year to a more crouched stance this year. Will it make a difference? Probably not. He had a higher batting average last season, but his on base percentage was right in line with his career line. He’s the known commodity, and that’s a comfort the Royals want to stick with.

Tags: Chris Getz Featured Johnny Giavotella Kansas City Royals Popular

  • jimfetterolf

    I expect Gio to be traded, won’t be enough reps in Omaha with Falu and Colon there and Rey Navarro coming along, as well as a couple of middle infielders not far beyond. We can hope Billy Beane takes the numbers as gospel and trades something for Gio.

    • Michael Engel

      Maybe he gets traded, sure. But Falu’s not any part of that. Nobody’s concerned about finding playing time for a 30 year old career minor leaguer. Navarro maaaaaaaybe, but he’s younger than I ever remember. I always think he’s 24-25 but he’s only just turned 23.

      • jimfetterolf

        Falu can play multiple positions, as can Colon and Navarro, so that makes Gio the odd man out, just as Getz would be had he lost the job. And Falu has shown he can hit major league pitching, unlike Gio. That’s why I’ld trade Gio. Getting crowded and lack of versatility and major league performance makes Gio expendable with the hope that some GM still sees some flecks of glitter on him. From what I hear, Navarro is the best 2B glove of the bunch and his bat woke up a little at Omaha last year, where the bat boy hit .310 with pop :)

        • Kevin Scobee

          “Getting crowded and lack of versatility and major league performance” – that exact thing could and should be said about Getz.

          In reality, the most unfortunate thing with all of this isn’t that Giavotella has never been given a chance to replicate his minor league numbers in KC, or that Getz has been given every opportunity to prove he’s truly as bad as he is, it’s that the choice for starter is between these two. One more thing DM has failed to do.

          That being said, I’d love for Falu to eventually unseat Getz, but that’s a bias opinion because I played against him.

          • jimfetterolf

            Agree that it could be said about Getz, but Getz won the job, again, for like the fourth time against Gio. And now Gio is going to have to beat out the more versatile, better defending Colon, Falu, and Navarro to get another chance at Getz. This was, I think, Gio’s last chance with the Royals.

            Gio isn’t much of a defender, doesn’t run well, and, unlike Falu or Perez as examples, has failed to hit when he got the opportunity against major league pitching. This isn’t Dayton Moore’s fault, it’s Johnny Giavotella’s. But maybe Billy Beane will agree with you and give Gio his 1000 ABs based on his minor-league record and give the Royals a lottery ticket in exchange for him. Then Getz will have the next savior challenging him and if Colon wins out Getz can move on, the team not needing one, much less two, “2B Only” players. If Colon doesn’t win it then Getz can get diss’ed all next year too, handy for the blogoshere as Frenchy, Hochevar, and Chen will be gone and probably two/thirds of content generated contains some amount of frothing over at least one of the four.

          • Kevin Scobee

            I don’t understand why you need to keep bringing up Billy Beane. Nearly all teams employ statistical measures to evaluate players, the Royals are one of the few that don’t follow the trend that getting on-base is a necessary skill.

            Any maybe Getz did “win” the job, but relying on 40 sporadic at-bats during Spring Training to determine playing time is what bad teams do. Getz has 1,000 more PAs at the big league level with nominal difference in production, and Giavotella’s minor league track record dwarfs Getz’.

            Granted it isn’t like Giavotella has done much to “prove” he deserves the position, but then again, he hasn’t been given much of an opportunity to prove it either.

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