For Kansas City Royals, Key Player Injuries Push Momentum to DL


Yoda…er….Ned Yost looks on from the dugout. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Of course the injuries hit now. Miguel Tejada, Lorenzo Cain, and now Mike Moustakas…all out of the lineup. Moose isn’t on the DL yet, but who knows what will happen when Ned Yost, when asked about the possibility of a DL stint, says things like:  “It’s possible. Everything is possible, but not probable.” What is he Yoda all the sudden?

With all the injuries to key players, though, the next addition to the disable list might be the Royals’ momentum. And that can’t happen. Kansas City’s momentum can’t even afford a stint on the 7-day DL…this team has to keep winning. And the Miami series was a giant step in the wrong direction. It was a series I had some concern about, honestly, having to face both Jose Fernandez and Justin Turner, but a series that should have been won by the streaking Royals.

Heading to Detroit for a 5-game series…the Royals have to hope the series loss to the Marlins is just a bump in the road and not momentum swinging back in the wrong direction – the losing direction. If this team is going to hang in the wild card hunt, any kind of rough patch just won’t do, and the lineup Yost ran out there in game three of the Marlins series isn’t going to cut it. Alcides Escobar, Chris Getz, and Elliot Johnson batting 6-7-8? No thank you.

Of course, as we all know, the Royals went out Wednesday and got utility man Emilio Bonifacio. I applaud the effort to bring in big league talent, but what’s the plan here? Is he going to be a utility guy? If so, we can likely say goodbye to Johnson, which I’m totally okay with. If that’s the plan, though, we still have Chris Getz playing second base on a regular basis. Yuck. And what about third base? Is that going to be the also newly acquired utility man Jamey Carroll’s job? Will he split time with Bonifacio? Either way, third base isn’t exactly a threat to go yard, is it?

What this team needs to do is find an available player who can hit the ball and hit it pretty hard. Nobody in the previous paragraph fits that description. So what are the options? As Michael Engel recently pointed out, Mark Reynolds might be a way to go. There is another veteran hitter out there that could be had, though, and one I wanted to see the Royals go after at the trade deadline. A guy by the name of Michael Young, who plays third base for the Philadelphia Phillies, and who recently cleared waivers.

Michael Young can still swing the bat. What would it take for the Royals to bring him to KC? Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Why would I prefer Young to Reynolds? Honestly…I’d prefer either option if our other choice is Bonifacio/Carroll. Bonifacio, by the way, hasn’t played the position since 2011, so don’t assume he can step right in at the hot corner. But I prefer Young because the guy has always been a hitter. Yes, he’s 36, but it’s not like the team would be saddled with a bad contract, as his expires at the end of 2013. But Young, a career .300 hitter with a lifetime .788 OPS is still swinging the bat well at .270/.335/.396 this season. Is that top shelf production? Nope. But it’s better than what Carroll or Bonifacio have done.

But we’re comparing Young to Reynolds, so let’s get back to that. For Cleveland this season, Reynolds has posted a .215/.307/.373 slash with 15 homers (more than anyone on the current Kansas City roster). The pop is nice. The 43 walks are nice. The 123 strikeouts are not so nice. That said, Cleveland released Reynolds, and the Royals wouldn’t have to come up with a trade to add him to the roster. That part of the equation is very appealing, as is his ability to hit for power. But if the Royals are trying to make a move to compete now…do they want a reclamation project, or a steady vet like Young? I’d argue Young would be the fit for 2013.

Young is a guy who could hit just about anywhere in the lineup, allowing a reshuffling the order and a return to the leadoff spot for a struggling Alex Gordon. Young could hit second, third, fifth, sixth, and so on…he doesn’t have the power you want in the cleanup spot (where Billy Butler should be hitting, in my opinion) but could bat fifth and offer protection for Butler.

Or is Reynolds really a viable option? Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

And the bonus here is you know the guy will come in and handle his business at the plate, where Reynolds might not. Looking a little further at the comparison, as there is more to playing third base than hitting, lets turn to fielding. Young isn’t setting the world on fire in the field. According to Fangraphs, his UZR/150 is -14.7, which of course is not ideal. But, even with that deficiency, he is slightly above replacement level with a 0.2 WAR. I know…not great…but we’re talking a short term solution in case Moose lands on the DL, not a third baseman of the future, which we (hopefully) already have.

On the flip side, Reynolds is even worse in the field with a -32 UZR/150 (yikes). And he’s a slightly below replacement level player at -0.3 WAR.

If the Royals are playing for NOW, which it seems they are…the ideal choice, in my opinion, would be Young. Of course, standing in the way are a couple of obstacles…one being we don’t know the Phillies asking price, and two being the no-trade clause that Young might not waive for Kansas City. So in the end, maybe it’s a moot point. If Moustakas is really hurt, maybe our only options are going after Reynolds or sticking with the two-headed beast that is Jamey Carroll/Emilio Bonifacio (Should we name it Jamelio?)

Of course, the best-case scenario would be turning the Moose loose within the next day or two. Whatever happens…I just hope the momentum hasn’t already started swinging so hard in the wrong direction it can’t be rerouted yet again this year. Now let’s go beat those Tigers.