The Kansas City Royals are so close to being a playoff caliber team. So close. They have had great success this season, going 17-12 so far and only trailing the Detroit Tigers by one and a half games in the AL Central. The Royals are an exciting, scrappy team and they have had some truly terrific performances from their starting rotation. Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Alcides Escobar have led the offense but Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jeff Francoeur, and Chris Getz have struggled. The other day, KC Kingdom staff writer Jacob Meysenburg gave us a couple of possibilities on the right field situation. Let’s take a look at the hole at second base.
Chris Getz is the primary second baseman for Kansas City. He has accumulated 74 at bats there this season and Elliott Johnson and Miguel Tejada have combined for 24 at bats. Getz’s slash line at second is .219/.250/.342/.592. These numbers just aren’t acceptable. His OBP of .250 is abysmal. Getz isn’t even cashing in on his one true asset – his speed. He has yet to even attempt a stolen base, let alone actually swipe one. The old adage that you can’t steal first is Getz in a nut shell in 2013. The Royals must upgrade at this position.
Elliot Johnson is doing much better when he has started. His numbers when he starts at second are .333/.364/.476/.840 (Johnson has 6 other at bats at other positions in which he has not reached base). Johnson is also 2 for 2 in stolen base attempts. Going strictly by the totally unscientific “eyeball” test, it doesn’t appear that Johnson’s in range and glove work are any worse than Getz’. In fact, Johnson has made a couple of plays to his left that Getz may not have made. Miguel Tejada has played just one game at second and he went 2-3 in that outing.
Getz is not the answer. He is not a terrible defensive player but he isn’t good enough to play everyday while providing no offense. Johnson is what he is – a solid utility performer who would be exposed if he played each and every day (note his career slash line – .225/.283/.340/.623). What other options do the Royals have?
Kansas City have some options at Triple A Omaha but they all come with questions. The best, most obvious choice would be to give Johnny Giavotella another shot. Gio is hitting .290/.371/.430/.801 for the Storm Chasers. Not great numbers but not bad either. He has hit 2 home runs and 9 doubles as well. Christian Colon would be another option but it is looking more and more like the former 1st round draft pick will never be more than a utility infielder himself. His AAA slash line is even worse than Getz’ major league line – .217/.243/.283/.526 – not encouraging numbers at all.
There is one other option I am a bit intrigued by – Anthony Seratelli. The 30-year old has only played 76 games at second in his long minor league career (739 games) so is doubtful that he is the greatest glove man in the world but he may be the best in-house option for the Royals. This season, playing third base predominately, he is hitting .323/.447/.516/.963. That is a really good line. Last season he hit 17 home runs and stole 15 bases so he has a nice mixture of power and speed. He may not be the best option, but he may be the most interesting one.
The next question to be pondered is if there are options outside of the organization. The name being tossed the world wide web right now is Philly Chase Utley. Two days ago, in his Q&A post for the Kansas City Star, Bob Dutton fielded the twitter question.
@jshwtk11: @Buster_ESPN keeps making noise about the #Royals potentially acquiring chase utley. Is he on to something?
If you’re asking whether I’ve heard anything more than speculation: No, I haven’t. But if you’re looking for possible matches, it’s not unreasonable — at least on the surface, which is what I think Buster Olney is suggesting.
Utley is in his last year before free agency and, therefore, projects as a likely rent-a-player candidate if the Phillies, as they seem to be doing, play their way out of contention. And, yes, the Royals could use Chase Utley.
Now the obstacles, and they’re considerable. First, he’s making $15 million. That means roughly $5 million to get him just prior to the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
Personally, I don’t think that’s a deal-breaker. I think the Royals, if they’re in contention in late July, will try to add a significant piece. I also think owner David Glass would sign off on a major short-term expenditure.
The bigger problems are (1) Utley can block trades to 21 teams (including, presumably, the Royals); (2) several contenders are likely to show interest, which means (3) getting him will likely require something of real value.
Chew that over. Would/should the Royals add $5 million in payroll and trade a top prospect or two for two months of Utley? You can bet the Phillies will be asking for Yordano Ventura, Kyle Zimmer or someone similar.
I’m not sure they’d be willing to do that.
Another purely speculative option might be Seattle’s Dustin Ackley. It is possible the Mariners may have soured on Ackley, a former top prospect. Again, like Bonifacio, Ackley’s numbers are only slightly better than Getz’. The biggest difference is the Mariner has better power than either Getz or Bonifacio.