Whit Merrifield’s Short Leash?
This may sound foolish to some of you, but we’re less than a year removed from Raúl Mondesí winning the starting second base job in Spring Training heading into last season. We all know the narrative after that. Mondesí struggled, so Whit Merrifield was called up and ran with the job. Hitting .288 on the season with 19 home runs and 78 RBIs, Merrifield was very good in the 145 games he played. He also led the American League in stolen bases with 34. He’s a lock to play second base all year, right? Not so fast.
In Mondesí’s season preview, I used a Dayton Moore quote that caught my eye. Here it is, in case you didn’t see it the first time around:
"“Mondy, although he had a breakout year in AAA, there’s still some questions with durability. We need to see that but he’ll get an opportunity to compete at second base again. If he doesn’t win a job, he’ll be back at AAA to develop.”"
Many Royals fans, including myself, are 100% sold on Whit Merrifield and believe he should be starting at second base all season. For some reason, Dayton Moore dropped that line about Mondesí getting another shot to compete at second base.
I’m not predicting this (or hoping for it) in the slightest, but don’t be surprised to see Merrifield’s playing time cut a bit if he struggles in Spring Training and Mondesí excels. Merrifield shouldn’t have to deal with a short leash, but it may be a bit shorter than you think. Whether we like it or not, that’s how it appears from the outside-looking-in.