The Downside The Infield
REMEMBER THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS ARE NOT SHARED OR ENDORSED ON BEHALF OF PINE TAR PRESS, ITS OWNERS OR STAFF. ¬†THEY ARE JUST POSSIBLE EXAMPLES OF THE POSSIBLE DOWNSIDE TO THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS 2012 BASEBALL TEAM.
No group of players on the 2012 roster present a reflection of The Process like the Royals infield does. ¬†From position labeled 2 to the 6 position in your scorebook the Royals infield is full of twenty somethings with Chris Getz being the oldest possible starter at 28 years old. ¬†This infield represents promise and youth, with that comes possible Pitfalls.
I second the motion or do I? ¬†Really no position during last season was more controversial than the spot at second base. ¬†While some of it was bad circumstance for Chris Getz since he was standing in between a dynamic defender at shortstop who captured the fanbase early with some dynamic plays and the Face of the Future Eric Hosmer at first Getz own performance on the field was less than desirable as well. ¬†While Getz struggled in Kansas City Johnny Giavotella was mashing in Omaha leading to backup quarterback type yells from quite a few of us via twitter, in the stands and on blogs. ¬†Late in the summer with Getz struggling the Royals made the move most fans wanted bringing up Gio to see what he had to offer. ¬†Gio got off to a strong start and flashed his promise with the bat collecting 15 extra base hits in 46 games which happened to be six more than Getz put up in his 118 but overall Giavotella’s .283 wOBA was just a shade higher than his counterpart due to a poor on base percentage. ¬†So what does this mean for 2012? ¬†Well for one Giavotella didn’t make a strong enough impression in those 46 games considering his less than average defense to automatically pencil him in over Chris on Opening Day. ¬†Add the fact that Johnny underwent hip surgery in the offseason and Kansas City will have to watch his movement and swing mechanics all spring to see if he is 100% and ready to play at his top level which as a young player he probably needs to be to compete at the major league level. ¬†If he loses a half step his defensive game turns ugly, if he can’t swing with maximum power with the bat Gio’s offensive game isn’t strong enough to carry an average to below glove, the ifs are many with Gio this offseason. ¬†Add Getz into the mix and the Royals lineup starts to look thin at the bottom with he, Cain and Escobar as either unknowns or weak bats. ¬†Chris Getz is not the answer in the short term or the longterm and a full year healthy and strong out of Johnny Giavotella is important and any reason for him to start the year in Omaha hurts the team this year and with their plans for the future.
Moosetake at 3rd? ¬†The biggest IF heading into 2012 outside of the starting rotation is what we will see at the Hot Corner. Mike Moustakas had many of us worried through his first 53 games last season earning a few calls from Royals fans that he needed to head back to Omaha to try to fix things after a .186 start but then something clicked perhaps it was the work he put in with Seitzer or one of those hot streaks that Moose came to be familiar with at the minor league level whatever the reason he went off for a .379/.412/.564 slash line his final 36 games. ¬†Which Moose will we see? ¬†Is a repeat of the 2010 minor league season in there for Moose at the major league level? ¬†Or was that just a product of environment? ¬†While Royals fans can’t really expect a 1.100 OPS for Moose at the major league level they need him to be at least a legit 25 or more home run threat with middle of the order production to reach 81 wins if production stays stagnant elsewhere on the diamond. ¬†I mention home runs for Moose because we know his lack of on base skill in previous minor league seasons. ¬†While I believe Moose could be a .300 hitter during his major league peak seasons because he isn’t especially contact adverse but I am likely in the minority with that opinion meaning his ISO will carry the weight to his offensive performance. ¬†Mike’s approach is a weakness, his defense is also sketchy at third can he be enough of a value for the Royals to make up the distance currently between them and some of the rest of the division?
Big glove little stick. ¬†There are three primary up the middle defensive position on any baseball team where you want your best defenders manning the spots even if it means giving up a little offense to do it. ¬†The 2011 Royals definitely gave up some offense at shortstop last season with the addition of Alcides Escobar and are possibly doing it with the addition of Lorenzo Cain in CF. ¬†As David Lesky and Greg Schaum pointed out in our first podcast this week the possible Chris Getz move at second could leave a second hole in the field on top of Escobar. ¬†Add in that for everything Salvador Perez accomplished in his brief 39 game audition last season he still is going to be a 22 year old catcher who had a career .328 on base percentage in his minor league time. ¬†Temper enthusiasm for the Royals middle of the field with the bats and you could temper their enthusiasm on the season as a whole. ¬†Kansas City is looking at three possibly weak offensive contributors in the middle of the infield, three holes would be pretty difficult to make up for in most lineups.
The 2012 offseason is reminding me quite a bit of the 2009 offseason with plenty of sunshine and hope but like that 2009 season there continues to be possible pitfalls for the new year.
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