Friday, May 6, 2011

Two Moves, Two Reactions

By The Common Man

The Common Man hasn't really had a reason to praise the Royals for a lot of years. For one thing, they're a division rival of TCM's beloved Twins, and who really likes to praise the competition? And, even if TCM were inclined to stroke the enemy's ego, since the early 1990s, they've made terrible move after terrible move, locking up mid-range players at expensive prices, selling off good players for pennies on the dollar, chasing low-probability players in the draft. It was a cavalcade of errors that bottomed out with 106 losses in 2005 and that has had just one winning season since 1995.

So, imagine how impressed TCM must be to say, the Royals are finally getting it right and calling up Eric Hosmer. After a strong start that sees them 17-14 to start 2011, Kansas City targeted 1B as a spot where they were struggling and could quickly improve, and did not feel constrained by the need to save a few million dollars in the long run.

Despite how he started the season (.195/.295/.317), Kila Ka'aihue is not a bad player. His minor league track record is strong, and he'd almost certainly improve over the course of the season, and hit along the lines of his projected rates. But Hosmer, pretty clearly, is already a better hitter and has been smacking around the Pacific Coast League to the tune of .439/.525/.582 over his first 26 games. He's shown excellent control of the strike zone (19 BB against 16 Ks) and is considered a good fielder around the bag. Also, he's only 21 years old, meaning he is clearly a better long-term solution to 1B in Kansas City than the 27 year old Ka'aihue. TCM also got the chance to check out Hosmer up close in Spring Training, and came away very impressed by his size and by the way the ball carries off his bat.  The dude just screams ballplayer.  Quite simply, for now and for the future, the Royals are making the right move for their organization.

It will be a shame if this is the last opportunity that Ka'aihue gets, because he's clearly paid his dues and would probably make a decent and cheap DH for someone. But that chance is not going to come in Kansas City, and it's time for the club to move forward. Finally.

The Twins, on the other hand, who have been an abject disappointment this year, have essentially been forced to call up prospects Ben Revere and Rene Tosoni as they struggle to replace the production of Joe Mauer, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jim Thome, and Delmon Young. Revere, in particular is interesteing. Keith Law is actually very high on Revere, and suggested to TCM that his defense in centerfield is roughly a 70 on the 20-80 scale (elite level), and that with even below-average offensive skills, he can be a positive contributor to the Major League club.

Revere does have significant holes in his game. He has absolutely no power, and very little patience. But he does have excellent speeed, and is, as Klaw pointed out, an excellent defender. Staunchly refusing to take advantage of these strengths, the Twins are reportedly planning to use him at a corner outfield spot while letting Denard Span continue to roam CF. Span has, according to Fangraphs, aquitted himself relatively well in CF, but he is four years older than Revere and probably still better suited to a corner spot, where he could play Carl Crawford level defense.

It's not likely that Revere is up for good. When Delmon Young comes back, he's almost certainly going to reclaim the LF job. And keeping Revere around as a 4th or 5th outfielder won't help his development at all. But playing well in this limited exposure will do a lot to convince the Twins whether Revere might be able to hold down a spot next year when and if Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer are allowed to walk.  Let's hope he makes good


William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

I clearly appreciate the Royals not playing the arbitration clock roulette. Speaks highly of them. Kila should be traded, but despite the dues he's paid, sometimes you have to produce right away and he didn't.

Ben Revere has a great baseball name. I'm not as high on him as Mr. Law though. There's no way he pushes Span out of center, though I agree with your reasoning.

Ron Rollins said...

This is just more proof that Dayton Moore is the worst GM in the leauge.

I'm not against Hosmer being up, but it's just shows Ka'aihue was never really given a chance.

100 plate appearances doesn't prove anything.

The Common Man said...

Hey Ron,

It definitely doesn't prove anything. That said, we can all probably agree that Hosmer may be a better player now and definitely will be going forward. Also, Ka'aihue is not a better hitter than Billy Butler. So, rather than let him languish on the bench, they're shipping him down. TCM has no problem with that, though it'd be nice if he were included in a trade at some point in the near future, so that he can get another shot to make good.