Johnny Giavotella came to play. His season debut couldn’t have gone any better Sunday when he collected 3 hits and 2 RBIs. He also made a couple really nice defensive plays, one of which, a back handed play up the middle, we’ve been told repeatedly he can’t make. If you feel like being petty I suppose you could ignore his production and focus on his on-deck positioning but we don’t do that sort of thing here.
The perception surrounding Gio is that he’s a 4A player who can’t hit major league pitching or field his position. Now granted he’s not going to win any gold gloves, but from what he’s shown the last few years, he’s not the worst defender in recent Royals history to man the position (I’m looking at you, Yuni). As far as his bat goes, he has less than 400 plate appearances. I’m pretty sure Royals officials have taken the stance that it takes 1000-1500 at bats to figure out if a player can hit or not. That means you can’t criticize Gio’s numbers while banging the drum for Chris Getz (1466 PAs, .252/.310/.313). I’m sorry, but you just can’t.
This move was late in coming by almost a year and a half. It’s ridiculous that Gio had less plate appearances than Yuniesky Betancourt last season. You know what, let me rephrase that. In a season in which they lost 90 games, it’s crazy the Royals gave more playing time at second base to Yuni than to a 24 year old second round draft pick with impressive minor league numbers. I know some people think he got a legitimate shot last year but they’re wrong. In actuality, his only legitimate chance came his rookie year two years ago when he was playing hurt. The Royals have not ever played a healthy Gio everyday for three months.
Giavotella has been the exact player scouts thought he’d be after he was drafted in 2008. Why it’s taken so long for him to get another chance is a mystery. I mean it’s not like he’s been blocked by far superior players. Elliot Johnson got first crack at starting when Getz was finally demoted. Johnson is a fine enough utility guy, I guess, but he gets exposed when playing everyday.
Dayton Moore finally ran out of excuses and realized there just wasn’t any sane reason to keep him in Omaha. The Royals were getting zero production out of their second baseman and Gio was on a roll (.352/.473/.429 in June). Giavotella could very well end up proving the naysayers right. I’ll freely acknowledge that. But a second round pick with those numbers? You have to give him a chance.
A real chance.