No, not really.
Mike Moustakas should not be promoted to the major leagues, at least not right now. It is simply too soon, too quick and not worth the risk at this point. That said, Mike Moustakas should be promoted to AAA Omaha sooner rather than later.
I touched on this last Thursday and this column may seem odd in its timing given that Moustakas is currently in an zero for fourteen skid. However, I don’t really see the point of keeping Mike in AA and one step further removed from a big league team that needs a power bat any longer.
Despite the recent slump, Moustakas is still posting a line of .338/.406/.676/1.082. Most of us know that the Texas League is considered a hitter friendly association and hence might say that those numbers are inflated. Well, keep this in mind:
- Mike’s .338 batting average has him leading the league by TWELVE points.
- His on-base percentage is second in the league (Aaron Luna of Springfield leads at .417) and is thirteen points better than the next player and fifteen better than teammate Clint Robinson, who is fourth.
- Okay, here’s the number that really clinches it. Robinson is second in the league in slugging percentage, lagging behind Moustakas by ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-EIGHT POINTS. Third place Wilin Rosario and fourth place Koby Clemens have slugged .505 and .504 respectively.
It is also worth noting that Moustakas was coming off a 15 for 30 streak before the recent zero for fourteen slide (during which he has struck out just three times). In fact, after striking out 90 times in 129 games last year, Mike has struck out just 37 times in 57 games thus far in 2010. While that is more incremental improvement than dramatic improvement, he has upped his walk total at the same time (23 right now, versus just 32 all of last season).
Rany wrote a week ago about how Alex Gordon and Kila Kaaihue are putting up numbers so big that the Royals may simply not believe it is possible and hence ignore them. Given that Chris Lubanski is tearing up the same league as Gordon and Kila, I can almost understand the logic, but no one in the Texas League is doing anything like what Moustakas is accomplishing. His dominance is such that I have to wonder if the two slumps he has endured in June that have led to a monthly line of just .293/.333/.566 is in part attributable to simply being bored with the competition.
Now, the decreased production in June is one reason to argue against the promotion to AAA. I can see that and frankly would be fine with waiting for the next hot streak (which is probably all of two games away) before moving Moustakas up. When Mike gets hot again, there would be only two reasons not to move him and I don’t agree with either.
First, the Royals can fall back to the ‘gain experience playing with a winning team’ argument. You know, the one that worked so well for Gordon, Butler, Greinke and the rest of the very good Wichita team of several years back. The concept of develop players together and bringing them up has merits on a theoretical level, but simply does not work in real life. To begin with, a small budget team like Kansas City simply cannot have all its young players reach arbitration and free agency at the same time. Not if they want to compete year in year out, which is supposedly the end result of The Process.
The second reason is the argument that Alex Gordon tore up AA pitching and ‘look how he’s turned out’. Well, Moustakas is not Gordon. Other than they have played the same position on the diamond and sign autographs with the same hand, they actually have virtually nothing in common developmentally. A closer comparison is Billy Butler, who also tore up AA, spent the next two seasons bouncing between Omaha and Kansas City and now is legitimate middle of the order major league bat.
Doesn’t it make sense to move Moustakas to AAA in early July and preparation for letting him get thirty or forty big league at-bats in September? Maybe he competes for a major league spot next spring or maybe he returns to Omaha for a couple more months of seasoning. Either way, with any luck, the Royals would have Moustakas ready to be in their everyday lineup by June of 2011.
If the goal is to compete, really compete, in 2012, then you don’t want a rookie Mike Moustakas batting fourth behind Butler, you want a second year Moustakas in that slot.
Don’t be stubborn because another number two pick has not yet panned out. Move Moustakas now.