Sep 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third basemen Mike Moustakas (8) at bat against the Texas Rangers during the second inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Moustakas Needs To Go


Last year Mike Moustakas should have gone back to the minors, but that never happened.  He worked hard in the off-season, put another great spring together, and again has fallen on his face.  Something on this team needs to get shaken up before we see them play their way out of contention again, and it is time to let everyone know that results matter.  For that to happen, Moose needs to go.

Moustakas is a good defensive third baseman, but he is an awful big league hitter.  The first half of 2012 is the only time he did anything well hitting .268/.327/.490 over 327 plate appearances.  Since then he has come to the plate 906 times managing a horrible .218/.274/.349 line.  That is a season and a half for a regular, and it is bad enough that Yuniesky Betancourt is laughing at Moose.

This sort of performance, especially over such a long period of time, should be untenable.  Moustakas cannot be continually given even a platoon job with these outcomes.  He has crossed the 1500 PA threshold that has been put out by the organization without any improvement, and it is time for him to be sent to Omaha.  You should not completely give up on a 25 year old player, but at some point you need to send him the message that it is not okay to suck.  Of course the next question is who plays third?  And the answer is pretty much anyone.  I am

May 5, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Danny Valencia (19) hits a RBI single during the second inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

pretty sure Danny Valencia and Jimmy Paredes can manage to cobble together an OPS above Moose’s .565 so far this season.  Also, Johnny Giavotella has started 12 times at 3B in AAA this season and is hitting in the minors again.  I would rather see him than let Moustakas continue to be given opportunities that he doesn’t deserve.

The long term solution to this position is not ready yet.  I love Cheslor Cuthbert, as my writing last year made apparent.  He is hitting well in double A as a 21 year old, and I believe he will be the third baseman in KC by next year.  A lot of people were expecting Hunter Dozier to be the guy eventually, but he is older than Cuthbert by more than a year, is still in high A ball, and is not hitting as well so far this year.  I still think Dozier could end up at second base after a couple of years when Omar Infante is about done, but we shall see on that.  That makes this year’s 3B position a problem, but it can be less of a problem with Moustakas somewhere else.

Maybe Moose can get things together in the minors and come back, it has worked with Alex Gordon and Billy Butler.  Maybe a second half band-aid at third can be found (Chase Headley?) if the Royals can hang around and Valencia et al also seem to be struggling.  Whatever the case may be, it is not okay for the team to keep running Moustakas out on a team in need of more offense.  He has had more than enough chances already.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Dozier is adjusting and trending up, but agree Moose needs to go to Omaha. I’ld call Gio up and give him a chance to hit more than his glove loses at this point, give him the PAs against righties and Valencia against lefties.

    The other problem is Gordon, but I don’t think he’s on talk radio’s radar yet, so we’ll need to wait a few weeks to start demanding he be traded while he still has value.

    • Michael Engel

      For all the belly-aching about Butler, he has a better OBP than Gordon does. Gordon was hitting .300 on April 19 but .186 since. And the weird thing is he’s gotten hits in nine of fifteen games in that stretch, but it’s a lot of one-for-whatever days. Six of those are doubles. A pretty odd run.

      • jimfetterolf

        Have seen it suggested that Gordon is trying to pull more, which may give more doubles but leaves him vulnerable to off-speed and away. He just hasn’t seemed right since the concussion.

        • Michael Engel

          No he hasn’t. It was a BABIP thing last May (I remember writing about it), but since the concussion he hasn’t looked right consistently.

          • jimfetterolf

            Just a hunch, but trying to pull outside off speed stuff is hard on BABIP. Beyond that, Tyler mentioned yesterday how great Gordon has been, so Iooked at his career and he peaked in ’11 and is ramping down since. ’11 may have been an outlier and Gordon just isn’t a very good hitter.

          • Michael Engel

            2011, 2012, first two months of 2013 were just fine.

            But the BABIP comment was that he was hitting plenty of line drives, well in his normal range career-wise, and even better than usual in his career, which usually correlates to a better BABIP (since LD usually go for hits), but despite a high LD% in June, he had a .227 BABIP. He’s had the rollover problem in the past and on his grounders, sure, that can be an issue. But I don’t think it was THE issue, and I think he had a good stretch of years in there and that 2011 wasn’t an outlier. He had 51 doubles in 2012 after all. Best LD% of his career in 2012 as well. I don’t recall anything in 2012 that made me think “gee, Alex kinda stinks”. Only time he looked rough (since 2011; 2009 was tough) was post-collision last year and early on this year.

          • jimfetterolf

            Alex’ wRC+ starting in ’07 has been 87, 106, 87, 85, 140, 125, 103, and 100 so far this year helped by yesterday’s outburst.

          • Michael Engel

            I don’t think it breaks down by month, but the 2013, I’d imagine, would be in the 120ish range through June. (April and May he raked. June he had BABIP speedbump despite previously noted line drive normalcy), and in July he hit the wall, “avoided a concussion *wink wink*” and hasn’t been all that great since.

            I can’t tell if you’re agreeing with me or if you’re saying the 125 to 140 cap in wRC+ is a HUGE drop because that’s still a highly productive hitter.

            I know you know the June BABIP/LD% information because you’ve commented on that very post… http://kingsofkauffman.com/2013/06/25/alex-gordon-and-the-terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-june/

          • Michael Engel

            Though rereading, yeah, may have been pulling too much in June, esp on changeups.

          • jimfetterolf

            My opinion isn’t real firm, but chart the wRC+ and it shows a steady incline to 2011, Alex’ age 27 season, then a steady decline to his age 30 current season. Don’t know if it’s injuries, aging curve, or ’11 was an outlier hitting in front of Melky, Billy, and Hosmer. We need more data.

          • Michael Engel

            My contention has always been that 2009 (hip labrum tear, surgery, and rehab) was a lost season and 2010 (early spring training broken thumb) was nearly so as well. Late 2007 and all of 2008 he was a pretty good player and I don’t think 09-10 are a reflection of his abilities. 2011 may have been his peak, but maybe I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying – because 2012 is nothing to sneer at, and, again, I think there’s a distinct split in 2013 between when he was hurt (or, company line, not) and when he wasn’t and I think a separator like that has to be considered.

            Was 2011 the peak and he was expected to decline a bit after? Probably, but saying it was an outlier doesn’t seem fair to me either because he didn’t have a steep drop in 2012 at all and 2013 needs an asterisk. His performance wasn’t good overall in 2013 but I wouldn’t say it was a skill decline, but an injury wreaking havoc.

            Injury can’t explain his 2014 start though. Shift down the lineup? I dunno. Final statement is he’s not good right now (yesterday’s blowup included, though that was awesome) but I don’t think it’s because he’s fallen off the cliff already (only just a bit older than 30). He hasn’t been very good in May until yesterday and it’s taken him down into the land of average hitters.

          • jimfetterolf

            Outlier is possible, need a couple more healthy seasons to make that judgment. The real reasons are still an open question.

  • DD01

    Have you even looked at the stats for Advanced A this year??? Dozier is hitting 280 as of today…”not hitting well so far” is a little off. Moose definitely needs to come back down and get things together. Cuthbert should at least get a chance to see how he can adjust to the majors since Moose isn’t holding his own.

    Oh by the way… Dozier just crushed a Grand Slam to win the game today. Just saying..

    • Brian Henry

      I said not hitting as well, though he has been better lately Cuthbert has been better at a higher level. That was all I wanted to say. HR today will help but his slug needs to come up.

    • cardsfanatik

      And to add to what Brian replied with, .280 at Advanced A ball does NOT scream I’m ready for the show. And his BA was not near that 2 weeks ago, a batting average under .200 doesn’t scream anything other than somethings not working right. So give him some time. He’s not ready.

      • jimfetterolf

        Wilmington may be the best indicator for major league success that the Royals have. I might consider moving him to Omaha for the second half, he’s advanced and makes quick adjustments, as the last two weeks show.

  • Greg Franklin

    I love the notion that being sent down to the minors “has worked for Butler”. How exactly?

    • Brian Henry

      By making him the best hitter on the team for the last half decade. He struggled early this year, but he is back on track the last two weeks.

  • flan50

    I feel for Moose. This organization, as they have so often in the past, grossly mishandled his situation last year. He needed time at Omaha early last year when he got off to such a miserable start. Instead, KC management allowed his mechanics and mental state to become more and more of a mess until the season became a lost cause for him and, possibly, a hole he’ll never dig out of. Despite his hard work off-season and hot spring, you better believe his psyche reverted to last year as soon as this year’s struggles began. I could well be wrong, but I’m not optimistic Moose “finds” his mojo in KC. I think the best thing for him would be a new organization that would take a patient approach despite his age. A change of scenery if you will. I’d hate to see him blossom for someone else, but he has always seemed like a good, hard-working kid and its a shame to see this fiasco with the Royals continue.

  • flan50

    And, while we’re at it, can we please, please, PLEASE send Ned and Pedro packing. Good Grief, how much longer do we have to see this bunch flounder around in a directionless manner? Will KC management ever figure out that a little patience at the plate can go a long way? That IF the Royals would make opposing pitchers throw them strikes once in a while, they might find it easier to collect some hits? I bet Kevin Seitzer would be laughing his butt off, except as a former Royal it probably hurts him to see this ineptitude. And, if George is actually an advisor for this club, how can the proudest Royal of them all sit by and watch this? I don’t care about small sample sizes, It’s only May talk, or anything else. This bunch is clueless. I think Eiland is a pretty good pitching coach, but some of his work is mitigated by Ned’s flounders in handling the staff. And, worst of all, is having to suffer the arrogance of Moore and Yost in their dealings with the press and public when THEY HAVE NOTHING TO BE ARROGANT ABOUT! What have they won? Ever?! I’ve followed the Royals faithfully since 1971 and, I swear, I cannot enjoy the current experience, win or lose, with these guys in charge. I almost liked it better with Herk around and the 100 loss circus we were treated to. At least that was good for a chuckle now and then.

    • cardsfanatik

      Amen.

  • The Plaindealer

    I completely agree with giving Cuthbert or Dozier 100 at bats, just like Ned promised he’d give Moose to begin the year. Time and again, around the league, some young guy comes up on a team and performs and never leaves. Guys that the Royals would keep on the farm. It’s unpopular to suggest that ANYONE, yes ANYONE!!! would be a good bet to replace a .151 hitter. Listen to the nightly blow-hard on the post-game show on the local KC radio station lambaste callers who suggest this. Yet, by suggestion, that means no one replaces Moose. This is not a solution at all. And that, as Brian points out, is the issue with this team. It is afraid to take a chance and find a solution.
    Pretty soon, we’ll be 10 games out and still in the month of May, with another long, long summer of disappointing baseball ahead.

  • moretrouble

    If Moustakas were the only thing wrong with the offense, Brian, I’d me more inclined to agree with you. Your suggestions of a replacement for Moose are underwhelming. The front office is already putting the squeeze on Mike by platooning him with Valencia. The better Valencia plays … and the worse Moustakas plays … the more likely a move will be made at some point. But, apparently, not yet.

    Whenever this club plays poorly for a few games, fans begin this logic …”back up the truck and start shipping people outta here” … “get rid of this guy and that guy” … “find a manager who will yell his head off, throw temper tantrums in the clubhouse and force these guys to play better” … etc.

    Fans forget this is the same team that played as well as any team in baseball over the second half of last season. The fans may be panicking; I don’t think the organization is.

  • Tyler_KC_Fan

    I understand the notion of “getting rid of Moose” of sending Moose down to the minors, but that wont help anything. Dozier is not going to be coming up any time soon considering he is still playing Class A ball in Idaho Fallls. So anyone saying he should get his chance, that’s an absurd suggestion. The issue with Gio is his bat and occasional offense. Gio is a classic “4A” player. Great in Omaha and stuggles in the majors. If Cuthbert was going to be replacing Moose we wouldn’t have traded Lough for Valencia and the notion that Cuthbert is better than Moose is absurd as well.

    The fact of the matter is, Moose is going to struggle offensively but you know you are going to get one of the best defensive 3B every game. I’ve seen a couple plays that Valencia was unable to make but Moose has. In the long hall, Valencia isn’t playing better than Moose. His BA may be better, but Moose is getting more contact and more pitches per AB that Valencia. The Royals wont trade Moose because Moose has the ablity to explode offensively and the Royals will be kicking themselves if they let someone like Moose go after he figures it out offensively. Moose isn’t costing the Royals big bucks either.

    It was either this thread or another, but they made a comment about trading Gordon while he still has value. People who make comments like that are ridiculous. Trade the best LF in the game? Why not trade Salvy then to because he’s been struggling as well. Oh and while we are at it, why not trade Cain since he gets hurt and Hosmer since he isn’t hitting for power like we wanted.

    The big picture here people, Grifol needs to go and probably Yost as well. We have amazing talent and are unable to hit the ball. We cut lose out hitting coach last year, we need to bring in someone else this year. Perfect example, Jose Bautista was about to be out of baseball. He fixed one little thing on his swing when a quality hitting coach came into the pitcher. Now he’s hitting nearly 35-40 HRs a year. No reason anyone on our team can’t do something like that. Bring in a proven hitting coach, I guarentee you the offense will start hitting better.

    • The Plaindealer

      Tyler,
      Calling Gio a 4A player because he beats up on AAA competition yet can’t hit Major League pitching ignores the fact that Moose is a terror in Spring Training , yet owns a .238 batting average in nearly 1500 at bats. How can you be fair to the team and fans while continuing to defend trotting Moose onto the field? By saying he’ll catch fire? What part of .238 resembles going on a tear ?

      • Tyler_KC_Fan

        I had this great response and then the app shut down so I lost it…but I will sum it up for you real quick.

        Gio doesn’t have anything better than Moose. His career batting average in the majors is .241 to Moose .238 which is not steller on either side. The fact of the matter is, fans want power. Who has more power, Moose or Gio? The answer is Moose. Who has more untapped talent, Moose or Gio? The answer is Moose. Moose is a power hitter. When he was drafted he what thought to be the next up and coming. He holds the record for most HRs in the state of California High School baseball with 52 HRs. In Gio’s minor and Major League Baseball career he has 49 HRs, while Moose has 125 HRs. You know with Moose you have one of the best defensive 3B in the AL, while Gio isn’t a strong defensive player. So when you add it up, Gio wins in BA. Moose wins in power, defense and potential ability. Gio is a downgrade from Moose not matter how you cut it.

        To my comment about Bautisita, he was on his 5th team in 5 years. On his way out the door. Barely batting over .230, had a career high of 16 HRs, was able to get solid contact with a slugging percentage around .400 and was thought to be done for (this all is sounding quite familiar…right?) I’ll continue. After hitting 59 HRs in his first 6 years in the majors he came out in 2010 and hit 52 HRs, a stat line that was something like .260/.300/.611 after one offseason. After that 2010 year he’s been going off with nearly 200 HRs in the last 5 years. Now, all it took was one hitting coach to look at him and say, you’re late because of this. Try this and see what happens. Bomb. Jose Bautista and now one of the best HR power hitters in the league the last 5 years. Grifol is a great guy and the players love him, but he is a lousy hitter. He has worse career stats than Moose does while in the majors and Grifol only played in the minor leauge. The Royals need to bring in a new coach that can work with Moose and if he can find that one thing that is making Moose late, imagine the amount of power Moose will have and the amount of potential that we will finally be able to watch, that we all knew was there. That is why the Rooyals are going to keep Moose over anyone else we have. That is why Grifol has to go. (By the way, besides Moose hitting for power and Hosmer consistantely hitting, no one else is really doing much good this year. Kind of a red flag wouldn’t you say?)

        • The Plaindealer

          Tyler, I wasn’t advocating a Gio-for-Moose swap. All I said was your response that Gio is just a 4A player (in comparison to Moose) is hollow because Moose has only shown the ability to hit sub-Major League pitching, too. Good grief!! He has 1,500 at bats in his career – and you want to blame it on Grifol? Knock yourself out.

          Your argument that he holds some high school record is irrelevant. Big deal. My son had a helluva record pitching in high school. Fortunately, he also got good grades. Sure hope Moose studied hard – he may need something to fall back on.
          But, I understand that you’re content with Moose. Likable guy. Fan favorite – at times. He just can’t perform when it counts. Royals need performance – simple as that. I, like many, am sick and tired of watching him whiff and slump his shoulders as he walks back to the dugout.

          We’ll just agree to disagree.

          • Tyler_KC_Fan

            I’m not saying compared to Moose, Gio is a 4A player. I’m saying compared to the leauge, Gio is a 4A player. What about him makes him a major league player? He has very little power, he is an average a best defensive player and he is average with his plate contact as well. Moose is an above average defensive player, has solid power, and average at best plate contact. Moose is better than anything we have on the team.

            My argument about his high school record was more a case in point that he has power. He has great ability. I bet he hasn’t even begun to untap his ability. So out of all the 3B the Royals could get, or already have, who is better than Moose, all around?

            The difference between my fan base with Moose and yours is I believe he has the ability to destroy the ball regularly, like Bautista. If you watch Moose this year, he sees more pitches than probably everyone in the line up and he is getting more contact on the ball, he just needs to find the gaps.

          • The Plaindealer

            Well, if the Royals stay with him I sure hope you’re right. No one argues with you over Gio’s abilities. But, in arguing that Moose has the ability to destroy the ball regularly, all I can say is I have the unfortunate advantage of the facts on my side.

    • jimfetterolf

      Ridiculous or not, Gordon has slipped a lot, yet may still have some trade value. And he is just an LF, not a C. LFs grow on trees, all star catchers are rare. Seriously strained equivalency between the elderly and declining and quite expensive Gordon and the young, cheap catcher showing HOF possibilities.

      As for Bautista, you could get 20 dingers in the AL East. Big deal.

      • Tyler_KC_Fan

        If LF grow on trees, then who is going to take his spot if we do trade him? Keeping in mind, a Gold Glove, 15-20 HRs, 80-100 RBIs. Not quite sure who we have in the minors that is going to replace him. Plus, Gordon has been hitting this way his whole career too, so why is he now on your radar for trading?

        So if it’s the AL East and 20 HRs is something that isn’t a big deal, why don’t they all hit 20 HRs? I believe Bauista has a 52, 47, and a 27 (shortened year because of injury) HR year after hitting 59 HRs in 5 years before his explosion year. So that statement is pretty absurd to make.

        • jimfetterolf

          You may not have noticed but Gordon is not the same player as he was in his couple of good years. His Gold Glove is shiny, but it’s a popularity contest. His HRs and RBIs are a hope at the moment. You might look at his “whole career”, it’s 9interesting. The reason he’s on the radar is he still has value, so would return some prospects.

          • Tyler_KC_Fan

            So if he isn’t as good he shouldn’ be leading he league in almost every fielding category? Last year he played the most games at 155, next closest was Brantley at 151. He lead the league in putouts with 323, next closest was Brantley at 257. Lead he league in assists with 17, next closest was Viciedo with 12. He was tied for first in double plays turned with 2. The only category he wasn’t in the top 5 of was errors. So saying that winning a Golden Glove is a “popularity contest” and he is not the same player he’s been the last couple years is an understatement. He’s been the best LF for 4 years and I see nothing to suggest a 5th year isn’ within reach.

            We want to make the playoffs…….so lets trade the best LF in the league. What?

  • The Plaindealer

    Tyler,
    Calling Gio a 4A player because he beats up on AAA competition yet can’t hit Major League pitching ignores the fact that Moose is a terror in Spring Training , yet owns a .238 batting average in nearly 1500 at bats. How can you be fair to the team and fans while continuing to defend trotting Moose onto the field? By saying he’ll catch fire? What part of .238 resembles. “fire?”

  • DrDrew

    I also “get it”, but Moustakas is not what I would call the greatest concern in the Rs’ lineup. That honor goes to Country Breakfast. A quick statistical analysis of the last ten years in the AL reveals that the stats with the strongest correlation to runs scored are the power stats, HRs having the strongest direct correlation (other than 3Bs, which should not be counted because the total sample size is very small). Offenses should have their success measured by no other total statistic than runs scored, thus HR and SLG matter much more than other offensive metrics. Moose is slugging 6 points higher than Butler despite an abysmal AVG and – no surprise here – has the same RBI total as Butler. DH is therefore a greater problem position at this point. However, the preceding is all a bit skewed by the fact that the entire offensive ship is sinking. Houston is the only worse offense in the AL, and not even a pitching staff of 10 Mike Ditkas can salvage a team with so little run support.

    After watching Valencia play the other night v. Detroit, I think it actually can get worse than Moose at 3B. From my power-stat perspective, the farm is not looking good either. I’m not sure anyone available now can do better than Moose, and he is the team’s best HR threat at present. Moose does have a terrible AVG w/RISP, .133. I’m not a Moose apologist, but I’d rather see someone else taking DH ABs than playing 3B. Don’t misunderstand – I think Moose pretty much stinks. Anyone on the farm with offensive promise is a ways off unless Eibner really turns on the gas. I think Gio can get up to KC and hit for better AVG than either Butler or Moose, but I’m not sure it really helps. The last ten years show that teams need to basically finish in the top half of the league in HRs to make the playoffs, and I see no relief in that department in the pipeline.

    An attempt to remain positive: Note to Hosmer – thank you for at least hitting your weight, even if you are only James Loney and not Will “The Thrill”; note to Gordon – thank you for playing your bum off every day.

    @flan50:disqus – I’ll fire Ned and Pedro! Give me the phone, DM! I’d bet Seitzer would take the job back in an instant. (and I think Butler needs Seitzer for some reason)

    Conclusion: Offense will ruin this KC team. Moose is bad, but Butler is worse. The game is about power, and there is none in KC, never has been, and likely never will be w/the current execs at the helm. Small ball does not win. I’m watching my other team tonight.

    • Michael Engel

      Have you been paying attention the last two weeks? If so, there’s literally no way you could see Butler as more of a problem than Moose. I mean…literally in the true, dictionary definition of the word, not in the figurative, colloquial way.

      It’s possible your cable went out on April 23 after Moose’s last homer (which would also mean you’d have missed the scorching four hits he’s had since). Unfortunately, you’d have also missed Butler’s .308/.349/.462 over that same stretch. :(

      Oh wait! Baseball-Reference doesn’t have Butler’s pinch hit double figured into his game log yet, so let’s make that .325/.386/.487 for Butler in that span. What a joke of a hitter THAT guy is!

      • Brian Henry

        Thanks for taking that one for me Michael.

  • nathan82

    The problem is that the Royals don’t have very good alternatives, as is clear when you read through the discussion board. No one they put in there is going to be great. The point that many people seem to be missing is that a month in Omaha may be just what Moose needs. He needed it last year, and he needs it now. It may not work, but letting him flounder in the majors definitely has not worked. The organization also would get a month or two of Gio at the big league level to see if he has figured it out. If not, you swap them again in June/July. Does anyone really think not having Moose here for two months is going to cost us a playoff spot? The chance that he goes down, gets straight, and comes back a competent hitter is worth any defense lost over the short term. And if he comes back up hitting, he may just be the spark the team needs in the playoff push.

  • Bear Brinkman

    Mikey needed to go down LAST may and maybe we wouldn’t be having this problem a year later??