Platoon or Bridge
By Brian Henry
Dayton and friends have come to their senses as of late. First they took Luke Hochevar out of the starting rotation. Then they said they would at least try to mitigate the damage done by Jeff Francoeur by platooning him. Jordan wrote about Francoeur possible platoon mates that are out of options and have significant time in the majors earlier this week. This led me to sifting through other major league teams in search of younger players who might help in this capacity or in bridging the gap between Frenchy leaving and whoever is the long-term right fielder for the Royals. The following is a list of players I would at least consider as viable depending on what the teams would want for them:
Xavier Paul – He is not as young as I would like, but Paul is a career .275 hitter against right handed pitching. He has decent on-base skills and speed, and not a zero in power, though below average for sure. Not my first choice, but serviceable and I don’t know that Cincinnati has room for him.
Tyler Colvin – The Rockies seem to be interested in him playing quite a bit, so it might take more to get him than I would want to spend. He is exactly the profile of a platoon player, though. Crushes right handed pitching and not great against lefties. Last year he hit 17 HRs against righties and only 1 when facing southpaws. Fielding metrics used to hate him, but not over the last couple of years. The Royals recently talked with the Rockies about a trade, though Hochevar is not going to get Colvin.
Kole Calhoun – The Angels have four guys that are better than Calhoun and Vernon Wells. Looking at Wells on the Angels’ depth chart made me smile a little since it means we don’t have the worst right field situation in the AL. He is a more expensive Jeff Francoeur! Nothing quite like having a backup get paid $21 million a year for two more years. Calhoun has shown good on-base and power in the minors although he struggled in a cup of coffee last year. The Angels also may need some starting pitching due to Tommy Hanson’s injury issues.
Chris Coghlan – Probably cheap, and if he could regain his form of 2009, would be an awesome steal. That isn’t likely, but even in a bad 2011 he hit right handed pitching well. Maybe he would be better in a platoon, and every player is better off away from Jeff Loria.
Feb 21, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur (21) poses for a picture during photo day at the Royals Spring Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Caleb Gindl – Took a big step back in AAA last year, but probably worth evaluating. Milwaukee doesn’t seem to need or want him badly, and his spring has been good so far. He is only 24 and has shown the ability to get on base and hit for a least moderate power, which could mean a decent future depending on how he adjust to the majors.
Travis Snider – Still only 25 and could turn out to have an Alex Gordon sort of breakthrough based on what he was once thought of as a hitter. If the Pirates decide to start him maybe Jerry Sands would be available, and could scoop up Sands. He could just start over Francoeur and we could forget about this platoon thing.
Anthony Gose – He struggled in his first major league experience last year, and the outfield in Toronto is not lacking currently, if you believe in Colby Rasmus. Maybe he could be stolen due to the shine coming off of the apple last year, but I doubt a 22 year old with his minor league track record would be cheap enough.
Roger Bernadina – With Denard Span coming in, it seems that Bernadina just became the world’s best 4th outfielder. Maybe the Royals could trade them Jarrod Dyson plus something so that they still feel like they have viable backup. If that was possible I would put Bernadina in center, Lorenzo Cain in right, and cut Frenchy outright. No way the Royals would do this, but I can dream.
The nice thing about finding someone to play opposite Francoeur in the batter’s box is that the bar is fairly low. All they have to do to be valuable to the Royals is hit righties in an average fashion and not kick the ball around defensively. My guess is that every guy on this list could do this, and some of them could be better when lefties are pitching too. Hopefully the Royals can get an evaluation and trade done sooner rather than later, so that the platoon can begin. Otherwise we need to give David Lough a chance as Tony said a couple of days ago. The added benefit of getting someone who may be able to help the team for several years should make these sorts of players attractive at the current time.