Well, Alex Gordon has been sent to Omaha to learn to be a first baseman and outfielder while Alberto Callaspo has become the full time third baseman. Once this whole situation sunk in for me, the first thought that came to my mind other than “What the heck are they doing with Gordon?” was “At what point does Alberto Callaspo truly become a Royal?” It seems like an odd question considering Callaspo officially became a Royal on April 4th 2008 when he pinch hit for Tony Pena Jr. in the 8th inning against the Twins.
While technically at that point he was a Royal, ever since then he’s seemed like a visitor, a temporary part of the team, a guy who had some potential but represented a stop-gap. Even the Royals seem to have treated him like he was not very important to the team. He was always rumored in trades, including heavily during this year’s Spring Training.
You would think that after 253 games, back to back .300+ hitting seasons and being one of the most productive offensive players on an offensively anemic team he’d be more than just a figurative Royal in my mind; he’d be a bonafied team stud. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of Callaspo, but he just hasn’t seemed like a true Royal. For some reason it just hasn’t happened yet…until now.
It might have something to do with the fact that he wasn’t a part of the Royals minor league system. He was acquired via trade for pitcher Billy Buckner. It was a pretty heavily debated move at the time if I remember correctly. Regardless, there wasn’t time to develop an affinity for him while watching his stats in the minor league. He wasn’t one of our guys – he was thrust upon us.
The other part of the equation is that he hasn’t really been given a full time position. He has played primarily at second base, logging 203 of those 253 games there. But even with that many games at a single position, he hasn’t exactly been installed as the true starter and trusted in that role. In 2008, Mark Grudzielanek was the full-time second baseman at the beginning of the season; however he had an ankle injury late in the season and the position ended up going to Callaspo nearly by default.
Before the 2009 season, the Royals attempted to make Mark Teahen a second baseman. That experiment lasted 3 games until Jose Guillen had to go on the DL with a hip injury. Again, the Royals reluctantly put Callaspo back at second base, this time however he started 142 games at the position.
Then, before the 2010 season, the Royals traded Mark Teahen for Chris Getz: a fast, light-hitting, decent fielding second baseman. The Royals made no secret of the fact that they were shopping Callaspo. They were openly looking for potential trade partners but they either didn’t find one or didn’t get an offer they liked. And in what’s looking like a pattern, Getz goes on the DL and Callaspo heads to his old position once more.
Finally, in what seems like a drastic move, the Royals send Gordon to Omaha in order to learn to be a 1B or an OF and finally give Callaspo a full time position, but this time it was at third base. The club has seemingly placed their full faith in Alberto Callaspo. So after acquiring Callaspo, moving him around the diamond, trying to get rid of him and attempting to replace him twice in the last two years, Callaspo seems to have worn down the organization. They have finally decided that his bat is worth having in the lineup, and they had to find a place to put him.
Alberto Callaspo is in his third season with the Royals, and he is continuing to produce offensive numbers. He has finally been given a full time job at third base, and more importantly, seemst to have the full faith of the organization behind him. It finally feels like he’s a Royal, well at least to me. Welcome home Alberto, welcome home.
Nick hosts a podcast about the Royals at Broken Bat Single and welcomes feedback via Twitter (@brokenbatsingle) and e-mail (brokenbatsingle [AT] gmail [DOT] com)