Brett Hayes is not an Option as a Utility Player

With the vast majority of the Kansas City Royals roster seemingly set for Opening Day on March 31st, there are not that many positions left open. The biggest questions on the roster are the identities of the fifth starter and fifth outfielder, should the Royals elect to keep a fifth outfielder at the start of the season. Then there is the question of who will be the Royals backup middle infielder.

Feb 24, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals catcher Brett Hayes poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Since Alcides Escobar ‘hit’ at a level that made one recall the days of Onix Concepcion and Omar Infante missed time with a leg injury last year, the backup middle infielder could end up receiving more time than usual. As Hunter pointed out, the Royals are going to give Danny Valencia a look at second base during Spring Training, making him a possibility for the backup middle infield spot. Another possibility that has been brought up for the position, if one is really thinking outside the box, is Brett Hayes.

As the article pointed out, Hayes has experience in both corner outfield positions and around the infield. However, at the major league level, that experience comes to a total of seven innings, five at first base and one inning each in left and right field. Hayes also has not actually had to field a ball at third, nor has he needed to at either corner outfield position. So, that experience can be encapsulated by stating that he can stand there with a glove on his hand. In his one minor league game at short, he made three errors in eight chances. While the idea of attempting to use Hayes as a super utility player would sound great in theory, it just does not seem practical.

Another factor against such an idea is that Ned Yost is not exactly renown for his unorthodox approach. This is not Joe Maddon tinkering with the lineup and trying different players in different positions. If anything, he may see some time at first base should something happen to Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez. Brett Hayes will simply be a backup catcher, if he even makes the team out of Spring Training.

That is not to say that Hayes will not see the field. He will probably get into one or two games a week, totaling approximately 100 plate appearances. Hayes will provide a bit of power as Perez’s backup, but not much else. Unless the Royals find themselves in desperate need of power, and no other options, Hayes will simply remain a backup.

Just because Brett Hayes has ‘experience’ playing other positions does not mean that he is a fit as the Royals utility player. If anything, either Valencia or Mike Moustakas, who was originally drafted as a shortstop, may see time in the middle of the diamond.

 

Topics: Brett Hayes, Kansas City Royals

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  • kcstengelSr

    Well, I did mention that Hayes could be the “emergency” utility guy. We can always call somebody up from Omaha if Infante or Escobar get more than some bruise.

    • Dave Hill

      Understandable. Like how there is that emergency catcher that played there a bit in high school. My thought is that they would end up moving someone else there, like Moose, and put Hayes in a spot where he would be less of a liability.

      • kcstengelSr

        If we suffer some late-inning injury, Brett Hayes should be available. He likely won’t start often, he likely won’t have been used as a pinch-runner, and he even likely won’t have been used as a pinch-hitter. Ned Yost seems to conserve his spare catchers on that bench.
        Brett Hayes seems to be a bit more athletic than some who have played the position. I would feel more comfortable, for example, with Brett Hayes instead of some Miguel Olivo going out to right field if Aoki goes down and our choices are spare catcher or Bruce Chen. It would be even better if we had someone more in the mold of John Wathan or Jamie Quirk. We do have a roster crunch and our spare catcher could give us roster and lineup flexibility.
        I agree that Moustakas and/or Valencia should get some spring training at second base. Escobar and Infante will not need all that many days off, barring injury. Bob Heise only got 15 starts for the 1977 Royals as infield substitute and the 2014 spare infielder could challenge that number if Alcides and Omar stay healthy. If Escobar and/or Infante are actually injured, our replacements should be the ones staying sharp and playing every day in Omaha. Moose and/or Valencia should be the utility IF to normally fill in at second or shortstop on a moment’s notice. Brett Hayes is deep reserve. If Infante actually went down late in the game, we could move Mike/Danny to second, Gordon to third, and Hayes to left.
        I just don’t see the critical need to carry a spare infielder on the 25 man. Justin Maxwell should get more starts than the spare infielder, based upon Lorenzo Cain’s medical history.

        • Dave Hill

          I don’t trust that Escobar will be able to hit. While I don’t think he will be as bad as he was last year, I also don’t think he can hit like he did in 2012. With that being the case, it seems like there is the possibility that Escobar could turn into a late inning replacement.

          To me, it just makes a bit more sense to have another middle infield type that can play short, in case Escobar gets back to hitting at Rafael Belliard levels.

          • kcstengelSr

            As bad as Alcides hit in 2013, he was only pinch-hit-for five times all season. In all five cases, the Royals failed to either tie or take the lead, lost all five games, and the defensive substitute for Escobar was not needed.
            One might argue that we could use more offense from shortstop, or at least use a pinch-hitter late in the game, but that really is not the way Ned Yost does things. We all hope that Alcides Escobar improves upon his 2013 numbers.