As I’m sure you already know, Johnny Giavotella was optioned to Omaha last Saturday after losing the battle for the starting second baseman position to the incumbent Chris Getz. I’ve been a huge fan of Gio since the first time I saw him in Omaha 2 years ago, and being able to watch so much of him in person has made me really appreciate him as a player. I still feel that, if given the same opportunity that nearly every other prospect receives, Giavotella would hit major league pitching at an above average level. I was extremely disappointed with the Royals’ decision to stick with Getz, as were many other Royals fans. But, the move has been made, and the debate has been hashed and rehashed on Twitter, messageboards, and this very site. I don’t believe I can spend much more time arguing with others over why I find this move to be a poor one without suffering an aneurysm.
So let’s move on from that and see how this most recent move affects the Royals’ Triple A affiliate. Much like the starting rotation, the second base spot at Omaha appears to be somewhat crowded. Lee Warren wrote an article yesterday on the Storm Chasers’ probable roster, containing quotes from the manager, Mike Jirschele. In it, Jirschele mentions that Gio will be sharing time with 2010 first round draft pick, Christian Colon. Says Jirschele: Colon “could possibly be an everyday second baseman in the big leagues, we feel. He’s going to have to get over there and get a lot of playing time.”
Colon has spent a majority of his career at shortstop, but there have been questions about his ability to handle the position defensively. Many feel his future is at second base, and apparently the Royals agree. Others who could also take starts away from Giavotella include Irving Falu, Anthony Seratelli, and Rey Navarro. Falu and Seratelli are more in the mold of utility players, and Navarro’s defense may be better than the other players, but there are questions about his bat. Realistically, the two main candidates for manning the keystone will be Giavotella and Colon.
It will be very telling of how the Royals feel about each player based upon the amount of playing time each receives at second base in Omaha. If Giavotella seems to be getting most of the starts, then perhaps the organization still feels like he could be a contributor to the big league club. But if Colon is playing most of the Storm Chasers’ innings there, I think it would be safe to say the front office sees Colon as the better replacement for Getz.
Personally, I wouldn’t understand that decision at all, based upon both players’ track records. Giavotella has done nothing but hit at every level (sans his extremely limited 376 plate appearances in Kansas City), while Colon has been disappointing in his 3 professional seasons. And even though Colon’s defensive prowess may be greater than Gio’s, I feel that Giavotella’s shortcomings in that department have been massively overblown. I see Giavotella as a guy with slightly limited range, but a strong arm and average hands. His defense would certainly play at the next level, if only given a real opportunity, and — oops.
I need to get back on track before I start bleeding out of my ears.
There are ways around this logjam, of course. Earlier this spring, Ned Yost mentioned the possibility of giving Giavotella some time in the outfield, so Omaha may try a lineup where Gio plays in left field, although I don’t know if that will work out terribly well. Colon could spend more time at shortstop, but if the Royals see him as a future second baseman, they will likely prefer he start getting more reps at that position. Then, of course, there is the option of trading someone.
I’m sure there are general managers that see Giavotella as a player who could still succeed, so if Dayton Moore doesn’t see him as a real candidate for the second baseman of the future, Gio could be a part of a trade package. Some other teams could see Colon as having more potential, and if the right offer came along, Moore could choose to make that deal. On the other hand, if Colon continues to fall short of expectations at the plate, the organization could decide to move on from him and just give the playing time to Giavotella.
I won’t pretend to know what the Royals will do with this situation, since we clearly are not operating on the same wavelength. I would love to see Gio get a full season to prove himself. If the organization doesn’t think he’s capable of being even an average major leaguer, then I hope Colon finally starts to produce at a level one would expect from a top 5 draft pick. Regardless of which second baseman the Royals prefer, I’m looking forward to some real games, where we hopefully will get a clearer picture of which direction the team wants to go.