Thursday, April 12, 2007

Royals Triage

Kevin: You know, the Royals are, no question, a better team this year – they’ve had some bad breaks that literally have cost them a .500 record – but, these things will turn around (I hope). However, I was just sort of thinking we may need to run a little triage on the team if some of the younger players are still struggling. Here is my idea: Gordon and Shealy go to AAA to right the ship and clear their heads. We call up Butler and Huber, move Teahan to 3B (and have him play the outfield a little to keep developing his skills) allow Butler to play the OF and put Huber at 1B. We can then give these other guys a shot to produce, but if we need to, move our young struggling players to AAA to get their confidence back. Again, this is something we do at the end of the month, not time to panic now.

Muneer: From the sound of it, Butler's defense is pretty bad right now. We don't need two Emil Browns in the outfield.

I don't know what Huber's stats are so far this season, but has he earned a spot with the big club? He might be fine as a stopgap, but the object is to win games, and I think Shealy gives the team a better chance to do that. I think the team would be better off making Huber a catcher again, and having him compete for that job next season.

I hope Shealy and Gordon can improve, but I don't believe sending either player down to the minors will help his development. Unlike in the past, these guys have been brought up at the right time and are ready to play. They need to take their lumps and then they will improve. Just look at the Twins and A's back in the late '90s. Their teams were horrible, but the core players were kept at the major league level and allowed to develop together. This fostered a sense of team, and that showed when both franchises became successful in the 2000's. Sending Gordon and Shealy down to AAA will erode each's confidence, rather than improve it. It might also hinder the cohesiveness of the team.

Kevin: I am fine with leaving Butler down (and I know you’ve read about how Brown’s defense is actually underrated) Reggie can give us some quality play in the OF. However, Huber to have value to us (he is going to be traded eventually) needs to perform some at the big league level, and I think the situation with Shealy and Gordon could result in more of a Teahen like wake up call (and maybe Shealy doesn’t even have any options left) – however, Ryan is like 27 so who knows if that’s a good idea. I just think young guys can lose a whole season if they lose their confidence in their ability to hit Major League Pitching early and I fear Gordon and Shealy are treading that ground.

Muneer: I think losing confidence is an issue if the player is not ready to play in the majors. I think Gordon and Shealy have proven all they can in the minors. To send them back at this point would simply hinder them from making the adjustments they need to make to become productive big leaguers.

I agree that Huber needs to be dangled as trade bait, but it's more important that the Royals find a way to get Sanders off the books. Maybe Huber can come up once Reggie is out of town.

Kevin: Gordon has not been in AAA, so he hasn’t proven all he can at this point… I’d be surprised if he doesn’t go down if he’s still hitting below the Mendoza line in early May.

Muneer: I'm convinced the Royals will send Alex down if he's at the Mendoza line, but I don't think that would be the best course of action.

Let's use Torii Hunter as an example. He was a mediocre part timer with the Twins in 1999 and 2000. The important thing is that he was in the majors, learning and making adjustments. Then, when the time came in 2001, he was able to become a productive member of the lineup and has remained as such ever since.

Gordon has way more talent than Hunter, and his college experience puts him ahead of a guy drafted out of high school who may need to climb the minor league ladder slowly, and return for confidence boosters.

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