The Royals aren’t good at figuring out this roster business, are they?
Kind of a problem for a baseball team.
News came down yesterday afternoon that the Royals placed Rick Ankiel on the 15 day DL with his quad strain. The move was retroactive to May 2. Of course, the move could have been made retroactive to April 24, except SABR Trey used him twice as a pinch hitter in the Tampa series. Two at bats, two strikeouts. Awesome.
Big picture, it doesn’t mean anything. Ankiel isn’t good at baseball, but he’s good for the Royals. Allegedly. Really, Mitch Maier is a better defender in center (minus the arm) and is better at getting on base. So Ankiel’s return will be May 18th at the earliest. Big deal. The guy is fragile anyway… I’m betting he won’t be ready to be activated on that date.
Still, it reeks of incompetence that the manager uses a guy who’s not in the starting lineup because of injury as a pinch hitter just prior to landing on the DL just a few days later. Par for the course when you’re following the Royals.
So Kila Ka’aihue gets the call. It’s deserved. The dude is banging .304/.466/.620 this year in Omaha with 7 HR, 24 BB and 17 SO in 103 plate appearances. Solid.
I know there are a huge number of readers who are members of the Free Kila Society, so I don’t mean to be a downer, but I just get the feeling this guy has been recalled to be Justin Huber, Version 2.0. Remember back in 2006, when Huber was recalled when Iron Mike Sweeney hit the DL? We were all excited… Huber was a quality hitting prospect who had done good things in Omaha and the thought was the Royals were going to give him an extended look. Except the Royals were committed to Doug Mientkiewicz and Matt Stairs. Huber had 11 plate appearances and was shipped back to Omaha. Out of site, out of mind.
Of course, those were different times in Kansas City. The Royals, for some strange reason, thought they had the talent to compete. Look at some of those lineups. Dreadful. With Allard Baird was calling the shots and Buddy Bell was absorbing the losses, it was decided it wouldn’t be fair to Dougie to hand some of his playing time to the rookie Huber.
That brings us to today. Things are different… sort of. The names have changed. We now have Dayton Moore calling the shots and Trey Hillman absorbing the losses. The team is still old, and they are still under the illusion they can compete, but they really can’t.
Ka’aihue is joining the team, but can he breakthrough a lineup that includes stalwarts such as Jose Guillen? I guess this is where things are different from 2006. Guillen is the DH and Billy Butler is the first baseman – the two positions where Ka’aihue plies his trade. Butler deserves his time and is part of the future. Guillen has been playing well, but isn’t part of the future.
So where does Kila fit? The Royals management is a thick bunch, but even they know Butler needs to get as many innings at first as possible. They’re not about to remove Guillen from the lineup, either. They could play him in right, but damn that’s just painful to watch. If they moved Guillen to right, they could slide DeJesus over to center and bench Maier. That really weakens the outfield defense. Ideally, they would platoon Ka’aihue and Guillen. Let Ka’aihue hit against the right handers and Guillen can square off against the lefties. A solution like this would likely piss Guillen off something fierce, but it’s something the Royals can afford to do since, you know, Guillen is in the final year of his contract and isn’t part of the future. Sadly, I doubt the Royals agree. Guillen homered on Tuesday, so he remains a valuable cog in the wheel of mediocrity. He stays in the lineup, Ka’aihue sits.
Keep those corks in your champaign bottles, Kila Krew. He’s with the big club, which is good. But with Guillen on the roster, he doesn’t have a spot, which is bad.
Anyway, I’m more interested in Mike Aviles, who is way, waaaaaay better than his counterpart, Yuniesky Betancourt. Quite the triumphant return for Aviles, bagging three hits including a home run.
Aviles and the rest of the Royals offense overcame a slow start on Tuesday. In the first three innings, the Royals had a total of eight runners on base with no outs. Unique way to look at it, no?
Top of the first – DeJesus doubles to lead off followed by a Podsednik bunt single.
Top of the second – Kendall walks, Aviles singles, Maier singles.
Top of the third – Guillen singles, Callaspo singles, Kendall walks.
And of the cavalcade of base runners, the Royals scored exactly two runs. Two. One run came on a Billy Butler double play. The other scored in the second when Chris Getz hit a bases loaded single to plate Kendall.
Offensive malpractice like that normally bits teams in the ass. A strong performance by Luke Hochevar and a pair of late inning home runs rendered that moot. More on Luke later in the week…