I struggled with a topic today: one of those ‘many ideas, none of them very good’ sort of things. The thought of tempering the despair that is swirling around a .500 team that has dropped eight of its last ten games came to mind, but I pretty much did that earlier this week. The idea to take a jab at the mainstream media for its inability to distinguish between random comments and actual bloggers was appealing as was a jab at some of our own who have quickly determined that, once again, there is likely no hope. Of course, maybe they are just being contrarian or (gasp!) maybe they are just plain smarter than I and actually right. That couldn’t be, could it? Even if they are smarter, I bet the paneling in my mom’s basement is nicer than theirs!
None of the above topics get us anywhere. The discussion around Alcides Escobar’s bat and glove has gone to such levels that I simply cannot offer one more sentence (other than this one) on that subject. Ned Yost did insert both Mike Aviles and Wilson Betemit into the lineup last night, as I had hoped, benching Chris Getz and Kila Ka’aihue. The Royals need offense, right now, and those two guys have a chance to bring them some.
Aviles, who became the fans’ whipping boy for having a bad six game stretch to open the season, gets to prove himself all over again (for the third time) and Betemit has hit so well since Kansas City called him up last summer that he has earned the right to prove whether he can keep doing it. How long Yost stays with those two guys remains to be seen. The public comments seem to indicate that last night’s lineup change was not a one and done sort of deal.
I would not have moved Alex Gordon out of left to play first base, opting instead to play Butler at first and DH Melky Cabrera. Billy is not a good first baseman, he’s not even an average first baseman, but he has played there much more than Gordon and really, really wants to play in the field more. To date, Gordon has played an excellent left field – albeit making some diving plays because of poor reads, but making them nonetheless – and it seems as if the Royals took a good fielder and put him at an unfamiliar position to keep, at best, a similar fielder in Melky Cabrera in his spot.
All that said, for a few games, I am not going to sweat the move. Long term, Kansas City needs to stick Gordon in left and leave him be. Short term, if they want to play Jarrod Dyson (who swung at eight of the first ten pitches he saw last night, by the way) and let Kila Ka’aihue sit, no big harm there, either. Any reader to this site knows I was a huge proponent for Kila to get a legitimate shot in the majors, but even I could use a four or five game break from watching the big guy take pitches down the middle of the plate and flail at those diving away from him outside the zone.
When can discuss lineups all you want, but the truth is that Ned Yost does not have a lot of options. Alcides Escobar will play shortstop every day this season and likely every day next season, no matter what he hits. Neither Matt Treanor nor Brayan Pena has hit much at catcher and my call to upgrade the offense was based on getting Mike Aviles, currently hitting .234, into the lineup. You do the math.
As discussed earlier this week, getting a couple of wins in Cleveland would have gone a long way towards launching the Royals on a positive start to what is going to be a rugged month of games. That has not happened, obviously, and right now 2011 is beginning to feel a lot like 2010. If juggling the lineup, even in a somewhat odd fashion, stops the bleeding however temporarily, then it’s worth a shot.
There is a pretty good chance the shake up will have little effect. The possibility that Jarrod Dyson makes us all think that Alcides Escobar and Matt Treanor are not so bad at the plate is very real. An infield that includes Betemit, Aviles and Gordon might be a defensive house of horrors and, frankly, unless the starting pitching reverts to early season form none of it will matter.
I give credit to Yost for trying something different.