KC Royals Won’t Go Wild With September Call-ups
KC Royals manager Ned Yost indicated to MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that the team would be selective with September call-ups:
"“I don’t think we’ll make a whole lot of callups,” Yost said. “It puts a lot of extra work on the coaching staff with too many bodies. But we sure can use a few callups.”"
To me, this sounds like the Kansas City Royals front office will not be using September as early trials for 2016 roster spots. Instead, the team apparently will emphasize players that can help rest tired veterans before the playoffs, and potential injury replacements that could join the team in October.
I think this approach is yet another indication of how “all-in” management is to bring home the 2015 title (if dealing five pitching prospects for Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist last month wasn’t evidence enough).
So, how does this approach translate into actual practice?
I think it means Wandy Rodriguez and Joba Chamberlain are almost certain to get the call. Rodriguez has pitched well in AAA (1.12 ERA in 8 relief innings), while Chamberlain has struggled (11.25 ERA in 4.0 innings).
Despite Chamberlain’s poor Omaha outings, both he and Wandy Rodriguez have pitched in the majors this season and are playoff veterans. They qualify both as guys that can give the bullpen rest, they also are potential injury replacements. Better to get both acclimated to the team and clubhouse in a relaxed September due to the KC Royals 13 game lead, than to have them walk into a locker room full of guys they don’t know and have to perform under playoff pressure.
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Top pitching prospects Kyle Zimmer and Miguel Almonte could work their way into this picture, due to good “stuff”. While the Kansas City Royals organization sees both as future starters, they could be devastating relievers in October against teams who will not have much scouting information about them.
As far as position players go, I think we will see enough AAA players to sub for every position on the field. Thus, catcher Franciso Pena is a candidate if the KC Royals fail in their 11th-hour search for a reserve backstop. We’re then looking at Cheslor Cuthbert (because he has played both 1st and 3rd this season) and Christian Colon for the middle infield positions.
Flanagan seems to think that Terrance Gore is a likely call-up, but I suspect he won’t arrive in Kansas City until NW Arkansas finishes the AA playoffs. Despite improvements in his hit tool this season, Gore’s bat is not major-league ready. Why deny him extra work just so he can sit in KC? At this point, he’s nothing but a pinch runner in the late-innings, who can help you score a critical run with his speed. I do, however, expect the Kansas City Royals to manufacture a playoff roster spot for him due to an “injury” or call him up earlier if Toronto stays hot and threatens to steal home field advantage in the playoffs.
Flanagan also believes that this approach will leave AAA outfielders Jose Martinez (.383/.455/.567) and Brett Eibner (.308/.366/.566) out of luck, despite strong 2015 seasons in Omaha. That might be the implication of Yost’s “too many bodies” comment, since the KC Royals will have six outfielders on the roster when Alex Gordon returns Tuesday. Add Gore and you have seven outfielders.
I hope this is not the case, simply because I’d love to see Martinez get some major-league at bats to get an indication if 2015 is a real breakthrough for him, or if he’s just another AAAA player who put up a big year in his late twenties.
Next: Potential September Call-ups