At this point it is pretty clear that Mike Moustakas is in trouble, and at least one way to go about fixing him might be a refresher course in Omaha. What is not clear however, is who would play third base in his absence. The idea of Miguel Tejada being an everyday guy at this point in his career is probably a little far-fetched. He has been fine in limited time so far, but it would be a gamble. Eliot Johnson is okay for a game here and there maybe, but does not have a big enough stick to play a corner position and is already needed to keep Getz out of the every day line-up. Now a new possibility has emerged in Johnny Giavotella.
Gio has played at third base eight times over the past couple of weeks. Couple at third then back to second base for a couple of games. There is no way to interpret this other than as seeing if he is a viable candidate as a fill in to get Moose some remedial time. Now I have almost no way of telling if he is up to the task defensively, but the Royals have consistently questioned his second base abilities. Could he be better at third, sure it’s possible, but how quickly and is that really very likely? Last year he played four games at third base, was basically called a disaster there (.833 fielding percentage, sorry this is about it for metrics on minor league fielding that I have access to). He has been better by the crude fielding percentage metric so far this year posting a .926, but this is a very, very small sample with only 27 chances and 2 errors. Right now Moustakas fielding percentage is .938 though, so not much better and well below last year’s .967, so it looks like Moose is struggling in the field anyway and advanced fielding metrics show him struggling a bunch after being great last year too.
Should the Royals try this? I say yes. It could be a disaster, but you just lost a series to Houston to drop back below .500 on the year, so it is time to try something since disaster is already here. Also, if it works this could turn out to be a fantastic turn of events. Think of the best case scenario. Johnny comes up and acquits himself well enough at third. Moose goes down and gets back on track the way guys like Billy Butler and Alex Gordon have done in the past. When Moustakas is ready to come back, if Johnny is hitting well they can move him to second and Getz can go to Omaha. This could result in better play from two spots on the infield. It could lead to a problem if Eric Hosmer also needs some time in the minors since the line-up might end up with almost no left handed bats, but that is a problem for another day. Giavotella deserves another shot, one where he gets to play EVERY DAY, no more jerking him around. If he is not going to be an embarrassment at third the Royals can give him one last shot and possibly end up looking very smart in the process.
Worst Case? Third base continues to be a black hole, the front office skepticism of Giavotella is confirmed, and Moustakas keeps struggling. In other words status quo. It is an all upside move unless their is a belief that Moose is better off in the long run, and can, turn things around at the big league level. Something needs to change on this team, and this sort of shake-up seems like a great way to do something without risking much. I am glad to see Gio at third since it might mean that this is the way the Royals are thinking too.