Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Are Considering Demoting Mike Moustakas

When the Royals called up Johnny Giavotella to help step in while Omar Infante dealt with some back issues, they opted to send Michael Mariot down, leaving the team with 6 relievers. Since that isn’t a plan the Royals would like to employ for long stretches, they appear likely to call up another reliever before the series against the Rockies begins on Tuesday. And shortly after the Royals’ 9-7 victory over the Mariners on Sunday, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star sent out the following tweet:

As McCullough mentions, there are multiple options here, meaning that optioning Mike Moustakas to Triple-A is far from a certainty. Despite Giavotella’s play, I wouldn’t be that surprised if he is sent back down, and Justin Maxwell‘s poor performance in limited time may lead to his dismissal. However, the fact that the Royals are thinking about demoting Moustakas is a positive sign.

It’s not just that the Royals are considering it, either. It’s that they are publicly stating as much. A team that is notorious for sticking up for players beyond a reasonable point is admitting something must be done.

This move, though, is essentially a no-brainer. Moustakas is actively hurting the team, so it makes sense to demote him, but the Royals aren’t always known for doing things that make sense. Part of the reason some have suggested to stick with Moose is his defense, and he is a solid defender at third base. But third base defense isn’t one of the most important defensive positions on the field, and in my opinion, that impact is lessened even more with this pitching staff.

Don’t get me wrong. Good defense is always nice to have, but the Royals only have one starter that would be considered a ground ball pitcher. The other four still allow ground balls, obviously, but they will tend to rely on the excellent outfield defense a bit more. I think the Royals could get by with a below average defender at third, as long as he hits.

That leads me to what the Royals could do at third, if they decide to send Moustakas down. Danny Valencia would likely be the first choice, although his struggles against right-handed pitching should give the team pause about choosing him. Luckily, Giavotella has a bit of experience at third, and actually carries a reverse platoon split, meaning a Gio/Valencia platoon could work out.

There’s no guarantee either or both of those players will produce at even a league average level offensively, but they are almost certainly going to be an improvement over what the Royals have gotten from Moose thus far. I still think Moose is playing below his true talent level, but the team can’t afford to sit around and wait for some potential turnaround. They have to at least try something new in an effort to get some production from third base so they don’t fall too far back from the rest of the playoff hopefuls in the American League.

Gio and Valencia may not be the answer for this struggling offense, but right now, Moustakas definitely isn’t.

Granted, if Infante’s back is still bothering him on Tuesday when the team makes this decision, that might complicate things. And even if Infante is healthy, the Royals might still keep Moose on the big league roster. Far crazier things have been done with this team.

Maybe the joy of Sunday’s win is clouding my judgment, but Dayton Moore’s comments about players being held accountable, combined with this public statement about the possibility of Moose going down, lead me to believe the team understands the position they are in. I actually think the Royals will do what needs to be done, and demote Moustakas on Tuesday.

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Tags: Kansas City Royals Mike Moustakas

  • flan50

    Well, it would be a year late, but let’s hope the Royals can finally get it right and give Moose the time he needs in Omaha. And I’m not talking about a 1 or 2 week pit stop. He might well go down and rip AAA pitching, hit a couple bombs and everyone thinks, OK, confidence restored, let’s get him back in the KC line-up. I don’t think it’s that simple. Moose and the best instructors the Royals employ, including Mr. George Brett, need to look closely and carefully at everything – Moose’s mechanics, approach, mental game, etc. – and he needs to be given enough time to really hone in on the problems keeping him from major league success. Yes, he needs to get his confidence back, but a little booster shot of confidence is not likely the ultimate cure. Sacrifice the time necessary for what could still be a productive, extended career. The Royals have only themselves to blame that this is necessary during a season they are counting on (needing to) contend rather than early last season when the team’s fortunes were going south with Moose’s production.

  • Brady Warshawsky

    I will believe it when I see it. Until then, they are still suspect.

  • jimfetterolf

    You touch on the most important consideration, whether the Royals think Valencia and Giavotella can hit enough to compensate for their defense, which is a low standard given Moose’s offensive, in two senses of the word, production. Gio has shown some value this time and his approach and swing look a little better, so the Gio/Valencia platoon should get a shot, which allows Moose a long vacation in Omaha, wouldn’t bring him back ’til after the ASB and then only if he’s hitting line drives to all fields.

    As for Maxwell, if you know anyone who follows the ‘Chasers they can give some insight as to whether Maxwell stays or goes. Only reason he has been kept is lack of OF depth in Omaha. If Orlando looks somewhat for real, capable of coming to the K and hitting .260 with good defense as a UOF, then Maxwell is expendable and the Royals can keep their 5th OF in Omaha instead of in KC’s dugout.

    • Stan Colbert

      Maxwell is expendable. All Gio and Valencia have to do is hit 200 to improve. Love Moose’s defense.

      • jimfetterolf

        Gio had a .912 fld% at 3rd in Omaha, so I guesstimate that he’ll need another two or three hits a week than Moose to balance that, about 100 points more BA, somewhere around .250. That’s about his career average and he does have a positive split with righties, so should be a go.

        • Stan Colbert

          I think Gio is hitting over 300 at Omaha. I have heard people seem to think he doesn’t have strong enough arm for third base.

          • jimfetterolf

            Gio was killing the PCL, about .360, but his glove is still a problem. Arm isn’t good but should be adequate, but the bat will keep him in the bigs if he brings it. If he can hit .260 or so and take some walks he’ll work in a platoon ’til either Valencia hits righties or Moose or Colon come up.

          • Stan Colbert

            Sounds good to me! I think if Nedsends Moose down and keeps Gio, it i going to pain him some.

          • jimfetterolf

            He’s known the kid for years, it usually pains a manager to let an employee go, but it happens. The greater worry is finding a replacement. The trade for Danny Valencia makes a demotion of Moose more possible, unlike last year. If Gio can hit, that both gets PAs against tough righties and keeps a back up for Infante, who has never been durable. Like four spring trainings and several call ups, it’s all on Johnny to step up and hit like everyone thinks he’s capable of.

  • goatlockerlifer

    Moose needs an extended stretch in the minors. It’s obvious his confidence is shot, and he barely has a chance at the plate right now. The Royals are doing him and the team a disservice if they keep sending him out there to fail miserably every day.

    He should have been sent down weeks ago. Its not like a demotion at this age is the end of his career. He just needs to relax, have some prolonged success at the plate without the big league pressure, and regain his self-confidence.

    • Daniel Ross

      I totally agree, he needs to be sent down, probably until the ASG and only bring him up if he is hitting the ball to all fields and showing the power that we all know he has. I mean he is only 25, he still has some time to put it all together.

  • Eric Akers

    At this point, I have a hard time believing that they will finally send Moose down. If it does happen, I agree that Valencia or Gio have to be better. I prefer having Gio getting most of the time at third.
    Trading Maxwell seems like a good idea if possible. He has a 44.4% O-Swing and is making contact on pitches in the zone at a worse rate than Moose, granted that seems to be his normal contact rate. I don’t know how he can make it at the big league level with that kind of contact rate, except that previously he had been much more selective. Of course, small sample sizes.

  • moretrouble

    Moustakas isn’t “actively hurting” the team, Hunter … he’s just not helping them offensively. I like the idea of keeping Johnny G. on the roster and sending Moose down when they bring back another reliever. KC needs a back-up middle IFer on the roster, and G. could possibly sub for Valencia, as you suggest. I haven’t seen him play 3B, but watching him play 2B, I’m not sure he’ll be all that good — but it is a reasonable compromise considering that Moose has options and Maxwell doesn’t.

  • Stan Colbert

    They don’t need another reliever. Keep Gio, and Valencia. Infante, has issues, Moose, Butler. Start V or G and when game in 6-7 inning bring in Moose. Keep the outmakers together 4-5-6-7 so the runmakers 8-9-1-2-3 can score. Use the bench! A player can’t hit without seeing pitches! Make signs reminding we are 4-7 so far in May.