September 25, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) walks back to dugout after he strikes out during the seventh inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals Notes: Mike Moustakas and Platooning, Ervin Santana, Brett Hayes


Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star fished out some comments from Dayton Moore about the potential of platoon at third base for the newspaper’s Ball Star blog. Of course, as with just about everything Moore says, it was not well received by some fans.

Mike Moustakas is our everyday third baseman,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “[Trading for Danny Valencia] just gives us more depth, and our job as a baseball operations staff is that Ned (Yost) and the coaching staff have as much depth as possible and are in a position to match up as they see fit on any given night.”

Again, you can find more from Dayton over at the Ball Star blog, but let’s focus on this one particular quote since it is the one that will drive some Royals fans crazy.

First, let’s look at the Valencia trade. Kansas City sent reserve outfielder David Lough to the Baltimore Orioles for a reserve third baseman in Valencia. It was a fair trade at a fair cost, and it fit a hole the Royals had for a power right-handed bat against left-handed pitching.

Valencia Career Splits

Vs. RHP: .229/.269/.360, 21 HR, 35 2B, 2 3B, 45 BB, 162 K in 833 PAs

Vs. LHP: 329/.367/.513, 12 HR, 31 2B, 3 3B, 26 BB, 57 K in 428 PAs

There it is, that’s Valencia’s value to a contending MLB team – he can hit the ever-loving daylights out of the ball when it is thrown from a left-handed pitcher. And this works out great, because it turns out Mike Moustakas’ cannot hit left-handed pitching (.222/.275/.332 in 395 PAs).

So it would seem clear that the Royals should go with a platoon here, no? Valencia can hit lefties, Moose can hit righties, we’ll do a hokey-pokey and turn ourselves around to find a solution at third base.

The problem with this is that platoon at third base would be in the Royals worst interest. Valencia isn’t a solution, he’s insurance. There is practically nothing else Valencia does as a baseball player that would warrant the Royals trading for him, let alone playing half of the season. And at 29-years-old, Valencia isn’t going to get better as a player. What you see now is what you get.

Valencia’s career batting line: .263/.302/.412, 33 home runs, 156 RBI, 127 runs in 1,261 plate appearances. Defensively, he’s a -10 UZR, -5.3 UZR/150 defender at third base. Simply, he cannot defend, cannot get on base, and doesn’t hit right-handed pitching – the worst kind of pitching to not be able to hit. Valencia at third is basically the 2012 version on Jeff Francoeur.

If Mike Moustakas cannot learn how to hold his own against left-handed pitching, then the Royals will be forced to weaken their biggest strength – their defense – in order to have a bat in the lineup that isn’t equivalent to starting Chris Getz. It is in the Royals best interest for Moose to be an every day guy and for Valencia to be a reserve who can come off the bench in pitch-hitting situations against left-handed relievers. If they have to platoon the Royals will have the same problem at third base as they did last year at second base and rightfield.

Yes, on the surface it looks as if a platoon makes sense for the Royals. But the optimal situation is for Moose to be the guy – or at least close to the guy – we all thought he could be coming up through the minors. So I’d expect Moose to get every opportunity to earn the every day job for the first two or three months of the season. Hopefully he earns it.

ROYALS, BRETT HAYES AVOID ARBITRATION

One down, seven more to go.

Brett Hayes agreed to a one-year, $630,000 deal with the potential for $20,000 in incentives for the 2014 season. The agreement is about $250,000 less than what MLB Trade Rumors projected Hayes to earn in arbitration.

Hayes is the front-runner for the back-up catcher job to starter Salvador PerezFrancisco Pena and Ramon Hernandez are his two primary competitors to that job.

CUBS UNLIKELY GO AFTER ERVIN SANTANA

Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago wrote this weekend that it is unlikely the Cubs will make a run at pitcher like Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez, saying that those types of pitchers are ones they are trying to avoid right now.

In terms of a Plan B, a major-league source said the Cubs are not planning to go after Santana or Jimenez, two pitchers who would require draft-pick compensation. The Cubs already have their No. 4 overall pick protected, and it’s not just about preserving 2014 bonus-pool money. … The 31-year-old Santana is the kind of buy-high pitcher the Cubs are trying to avoid now.

With the Cubs out on Santana and the potential that Toronto chooses to pass on Santana and sign either Jimenez or Matt Garza, it leaves Santana with few options in terms of a team willing to give him a big contract.

 

Reports seem to suggest the Royals are still very far away from what they are willing to give Santana and what Santana is asking for, so nothing is imminent with KC and Santana. But the longer Santana stays on the market and the more teams like Chicago choose to pass on his asking price, those long-shot chances for the Royals could change.

One more thing as it relates to the article, the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija are still very far apart on an extension, and it is starting to look like the Cubs will be looking him to trade him closer to the July 31 trade deadline. Samardzija could be a target for the Royals if they are still looking for a starting pitcher by midseason.

Tags: Ervin Santana Kansas City Royals Mike Moustakas

  • jimfetterolf

    There will be a platoon unless Moose shows he can hit lefties.He’ll get maybe a month to show it and even in that month he’ll get occasional days off against Chris Sale.Valencia has too much production against lefties to keep on the bench and with Escobar next to him his defensive metrics won’t be quite as glaring.

    • KCMOWHOA

      No way. They wouldn’t suddenly change course on Moose after giving him so much time to develop. I don’t think they’ll even consider a platoon until mid-season, and that’s assuming Moose is struggling like last season. Unless Valencia is constantly mashing the ball, the disadvantage of his defense evens things out in my mind. As long as Moose is near competent at the plate I think the job is his.

      • jimfetterolf

        “Near competent” is exactly what Moose has failed to do, especially against lefties. I don’t expect them to give him more than a month, if that long, before using the platoon, at least unofficially. There’ll be something about Moose taking a day off that just happens to come against lefties.

        Platoon is a solid move if both players stay true to form. Bigger worry is if Moose can’t hit righties, either, in which case he probably goes to Omaha and Colon comes up. Didn’t have much depth last year at 3rd, do this year, so that shortens the leash.

        • KCMOWHOA

          That would be a complete change of course, and Moore has shown time and again that he’ll stick with somebody based on gut instinct even to the point of hurting the team. (Hoch would be gone if that weren’t true, but now we’re talking about giving him another shot at the rotation.) Barring injury or a complete collapse at the plate, the job is Moose’s until the all star break. I think they got Valencia to beef up the bench and to try and motivate Moose. But I agree they won’t hesitate to use him in a platoon if it becomes necessary. A month in will probably not be the time though.

          • jimfetterolf

            It’s all a matter of depth and having a replacement, which is why Davies, Yuni, Frenchy, and Getz are all gone. Didn’t have the depth at 3rd last year to do much but play Moose, this year we do.

          • KCMOWHOA

            It doesn’t make any sense to do what you’re saying. Why would they only give him a month? I don’t see any logic in that.

          • jimfetterolf

            A month or less to show he can hit lefties, he’ll still get 2/3rds of the PAs when we face righties, if he can hit righties. The logic is they want to win. Valencia gives them a better chance against lefties. If Moose can’t hit either, then I think they’ll have to send him to Omaha and bring Colon up. 3rd is a hole that can be fixed now. The fewer holes the better for a contender.