It was not too long ago that a former Royal enjoying success with another team hurt. It might have even haunted us. Dayton Moore himself, floundered through some odd roster maneuvers that, at times, seemed to indicate a tremendous fear of letting go of a player who might have success somewhere else. After all, he didn’t want to make ‘another Philip Humber mistake’.
Funny what some success does to your mindset, isn’t it?
By and large, no one seems to agonize that much about this issue anymore. Certainly, the Royals have moved well past the anthem of just a decade ago that ‘this guy couldn’t play for anyone but the Royals.’ A quick survey of ex-Royals who have appeared in the majors for another team in 2015 totals up to 37 (and I may well have missed some). Of those 37, the bulk are not Royals because of the team’s choice, not theirs. What would a team of ex-Royals look like in 2015?
- CATCHER – Brayan Pena backed up by Brett Hayes. Yeah, think we’ll stick with Salvador Perez, but worthy of note that Pena is hitting .302/.387/.358 in 17 games for the Reds.
- FIRST BASE – Billy Butler. We will have to give up a little defense based on who else is available, but Billy is hitting like Billy used to hit. Clint Robinson currently holds a roster spot in Washington if you need a back-up.
- SECOND BASE – Johnny Giavotella. I don’t want to start the ‘did Johnny get a chance in KC or not’ argument again, but he is playing well early for the Angels. Honestly, this is the only spot where you might say the Royals would be better off with an ex-Royal than what they have, but I imagine the difference between Infante and Giavotella by year’s end probably won’t be enough to get all twisted up about. If you don’t like Johnny long term here, you can plug in Emilio Bonifaco as well.
- SHORTSTOP – Mike Aviles or Andres Blanco. Not a lot to choose from here, but these two guys have carved out pretty long careers and have stood in the general vicinity of the shortstop position this season.
- THIRD BASE – Albert Callaspo or Jimmy Paredes. Paredes is red-hot for the Orioles. Callaspo keeps getting work (now in Atlanta). Again, Bonifaco could play here, too or even Danny Valencia: who is likely bitching about playing time in Toronto right now.
- OUTFIELD – You want outfielders? We can cheat a little here and claim Jose Bautista, but that’s a stretch given he was barely in KC and no one cared when the Royals parted ways (and didn’t care for seasons after that). Carlos Beltran? Age has not been his friend. However, I think a team could win games with an outfield of Melky Cabrera, Wil Myers (that might be cheating, too) and Nori Aoki, backed up by Gregor Blanco and Justin Maxwell. Hell, the San Francisco Giants think they can win with an outfield that is pretty much all ex-Royals as it is. If injuries ravage your ex-Royals, you can fall back to David DeJesus, still plugging along in Tampa, David Lough, Carols Peguero and, yes, Jeff Francoeur.
- STARTING ROTATION – This team would be in good shape at the top with James Shields followed by Jake Odorizzi (2.21 ERA in 6 starts for Tampa), but your number three is probably the seemingly always injured Jorge de la Rosa. The back end gets really dicey with Jesse Chavez and Sean O’Sullivan (or Jeff Francis) closing it out. Hey, you would at least have to go six deep before your started Kyle Davies (2.1 scoreless innings with the Yankees this year).
- BULLPEN – You could do worse than have Joakim Soria be your closer. Joel Peralta is currently injured, but was having a nice season with the Dodgers, where he was teammates with another former Royal, J.P. Howell. In front of those three, you could turn to Jeremy Affeldt, Will Smith and the svelte Jonathan Broxton. Your seventh man would be Jeremy Jeffress, who has pitched well early for the Brewers, with former Royal farmhand Sugar Ray Marimon as a fallback option.
The good news is the Royals’ have reached the stage that you can assemble an entire team of former players. The better news, that team would be nowhere near as good as the current Royals’ squad. That sounds like a no-brainer, but not very long ago it would not have been.