It's been a fairly eventful two-plus weeks since I last posted here. Having not grown up in the Kansas City area (unlike my father, whose fandom I unfortunately inherited), my in-person Royals experiences have been mostly limited to seeing them play the Twins at the Metrodome or seeing Omaha play the Round Rock Express. While visiting my sister in Lawrence, I got to see the Royals where one is meant to see them: at Kauffman.
When the lead Brian Bannister held was handed over to the bullpen (along with inherited runners), on that cold Sunday afternoon, I decided to excuse myself from my seat and take in the Royals Hall of Fame. The Hall was great. A Mecca for a Royals fan both geographically and temporally displaced from an ideal notion of sports fandom.
For a few brief moments, I was able to escape to a time in which the Royals competed against, get this, the Yankees, to go to the World Series. Yeah, that's right. The Yankees. World Series. Apparently, they even won one. I know, I know. "Shut the f*** up, you crazy liar. The Royals never won a World Series. They're like, the worst team in baseball. They had the worst record in baseball in the '00s!"
But no. A long 25 years ago, the Royals actually won a World Series.
You are no doubt thinking about the illogical manner in which the franchise has been re-run into the ground by yet another regime in the Wal-Mart Royals Era, and wondering to yourself how it is possible that a team that was once a perennial contender could possibly find itself in this place. A laughingstock. A team whose fans have to resort to arguing whether or not their team is worse off than the likes of the Astros or *shudder* the Pirates.
Yet, here we sit, watching helplessly as Alex Gordon is optioned to AAA-Omaha while inept aged veterans constipate the daily lineup—while Carlos Rosa (an arguably Major League-ready relief pitcher) is shipped off to Arizona for an extremely raw shortstop who appears to be nowhere near the Majors meaning the Royals would be required to successfully develop him.
And while Mike Aviles is shuttled back and forth between Kansas City and Omaha, called up this time so that Trey Hillman can have him pinch-run twice a week as Yuniesky Betancourt ranges two-steps to his right or left for grounders at short and swings wildly at balls outside of the zone.
Should I continue?
Regarding the Gordon optioning, I can understand that he has been a disappointment against the unrealistic expectations that he was going to be the next George Brett. We were all guilty of setting those hopes too high, but the Royals are in no place to be abandoning hope on a 26-year-old third baseman with an above-average ability to get on base even if his defensive skills seem to be on the decline.
Yes, his strikeouts are often ugly. His dry-spells can last for weeks. Still, when healthy, he is one of the Royals best three or four offensive players with the upside for more. Given this demotion, their aggressive promotion of Gordon in 2007 could conceivably stand as only the second-most egregious move that the organization has made in terms of the detriment done to the development of a player once regarded as the top prospect in all of baseball.
As for Rosa, Marc Hulet of FanGraphs indicates that Arizona pulled the trigger on this deal because they were desperate for relief pitching. Hold up a second, the Diamondbacks need relievers? What a coincidence, the Royals relief corps have been giving up leads like they were getting paid to lose games. Doesn't it seem like the Royals could use a relief pitcher? Now maybe Reynaldo Navarro pans out, but given the track record of this front office, I doubt any Royals fans are holding their breath.
Now Mike Aviles gets recalled from Omaha, presumably to sit on the bench while the Royals' $3.3 million gloveless/batless shortstop gets all of the playing time. Even more aggravating is the fact that this organization seems to believe that Betancourt is actually the best option for them at short.
Nevermind that they cannot align their outfield properly (Ankiel in right*, Maier in center, DeJesus in left, Podsednik on a different team for those catching up at home), in what world do the Royals exist in which Yuniesky Betancourt is a ML-caliber anything, let alone shortstop?
*Yes, The LOBster has been awful, and really, if they seem dead-set on playing Getz at second, then maybe the Royals should be thinking about working Gordon out at right, thus getting Getz, Callaspo, and Gordon into the lineup and a right-fielder's arm in right. If Ankiel is playing, though, it needs to be in right.
If Aviles weren't healthy, Betancourt still shouldn't be playing. Aviles is healthy, though. Betancourt has managed one walk in 98 plate appearances. His O-Swing percentage is 45.7 percent. His BB/K is an Olivo-ian 0.09. His UZR/150 is a predictably awful -22.7. All the talk of small sample sizes could apply here, if these numbers weren't in line with his past three seasons. Long story short: Yuniesky Betancourt sucks.
Does anyone think that logic will set in and Betancourt will be riding the pine this week?
The likes of Jose Guillen, Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel, and Yuniesky Betancourt should not be taking playing time away from players who need playing time at the Major League level to develop.
Oh, and I could ramble on about the inexplicable Juan Cruz release, but what's the f***ing point?
Ewing Kauffman's Royals these are not.