Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals Continue To Fail In Constructing The Best Roster


 

Chicago Cubs shortstop Emilio Bonifacio (43) Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports.

 

The Kansas City Royals have started the 2014 baseball season 4-4 – not a disaster by any means. Still, many of the issues from last year are lingering, namely the offense, and a new problem has crept up, mainly the bullpen. There is another underlying issue, though.

I know, I know. It’s early. It’s only 8 games. A week from now, after a 6-game road trip to face two of the supposedly weaker teams, I may feel much better about this team. Or I could feel infinitely worse.

A few weeks ago, I pleaded with fans to take a look at the team Dayton Moore fielded on his first Opening Day with the Royals in 2007. There is absolutely zero doubt Moore has improved this franchise, with a limited budget, over the years. The Royals are a legitimate Major League baseball team, and not a laughingstock.

The Kansas City Royals are a competitive team, that should battle in almost every series they play. For that, I am grateful.

What bugs me though, is that Dayton Moore and the Royals brass seem to lack the skill to make the little moves that improve the ball club. Hanging onto Chris Getz and Jeff Francoeur too long are the perfect examples. The Royals would have won more games in the first 60 games last year if these two weren’t on the roster. Even one or two may have made a difference down the stretch.

This season, the big mistake was releasing Emilio Bonifacio for no apparent reason, though I suspect the reason was money. The Royals signed Bonifacio in the off-season for $3.5 million dollars.

Weeks later, the Royals designated him for assignment. They were unable to trade him (more mismanagement), and ended up releasing him outright, and eating $575,000 of his salary. Aaron Reese gave a nice rundown of these events several weeks ago.

The Royals evidently did have a payroll number they couldn’t exceed, and when the signed Bruce Chen, they needed to free up some money. The Royals chose to keep $10 million wrapped up in 2 middle relievers (Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis) instead of a talented player who could play just about any position on the field.

Whether Hochevar caught hurt or not, a frugal team shouldn’t be paying a middle reliever with one good year under his belt $5.21 million.

The issue goes deeper than just this though. There are a couple of players on this roster from whom the Royals have to protect themselves. Mike Moustakas, once considered a franchise cornerstone, came into 2014 with horrible career numbers against left-handed pitching (career slash against southpaws – .219/.275/.327/.602).

The Royals traded some of the outfield depth in David Lough to Baltimore for Danny Valencia, who could platoon with Moustakas if Moose failed to improve against lefties. Of course, we know that so far, Moustakas continues to fail as a major league hitter.

The other player the Royals felt they needed to cover for was Lorenzo Cain. In my opinion, Cain is one of the best center fielders in the game today. His performance behind Jason Vargas is a prime example of his prowess in the field. The problem with Cain, and one of the reasons the Royals felt the need to keep Jarrod Dyson, is because Cain has trouble staying healthy.

Now, I really like Jarrod Dyson for what he is – a kid with game changing speed, and a good glove. He can’t really hit a lick but unless Cain gets hurt, he won’t be asked to all that much. His job is to pinch run for Billy Butler late, and spell Cain on occasion. Great!

Emilio Bonifacio could have done both of those jobs, and he is a better hitter.

Justin Maxwell is another guy being kept on the roster for suspect reasons. I like Maxwell, too. He seems like a fun guy to have around. He was kept on as a power, right-handed bat for late innings pinch hit opportunities. Of course, the Royals have Valencia for that now, too.

There was no reason to keep all three – Valencia, Dyson, and Maxwell – over Bonifacio. Bonifacio could play all three outfield positions, second base (hmmm), third base, and back up at shortstop. He was released in favor of a platoon hitter, a speedster, and a right-handed pinch hitter.

You want a guy who can play third base every day should Moustakas continue to fail? Fine, keep Valencia. Need a speedster to steal a base late, and who can cover center in needed. Dyson is great at those things, but Bonifacio could have served in that capacity, and many other things as well. Want to have a chance to hit a pinch hit homer in the bottom of the ninth? Awesome! Frankly, that is a luxury this team can’t afford.

Want to know what else Bonifacio can do? He can play second base. When a team has to cover starters who have big question marks surrounding them, and you cannot carry a utility infielder, some one on the roster has to be able to play those middle infield positions. Bonifacio could. The Royals have already lost a game because they had to start Danny Valencia at second base.

The Chicago Cubs are reaping the benefits of Dayton Moore’s mismanagement, and the Royals are left hoping Omar Infante can return to the line up sooner rather than later, but what then. What do they do with Johnny Giavotella? What do they do with the middle infield situation?

I know it is only 9 games, a microscopic sample size that has no chance at continuing, but Bonifacio has started the season batting .452. He has 19 hits in 46 at bats, and has stolen 7 bases. He has 3 doubles, scored 9 times, and has walked 4 times.

Mike Moustakas, Danny Valencia, Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Justin Maxwell, Alcides Escobar, and Billy Butler have 19 hits on the season – COMBINED! The Royals have stole 7 bases – AS A TEAM.

Only one Royal has more doubles than Bonifacio (Salvador Perez with 4). Bonifacio has 9 runs scored. No Royal has more 4.

Plus, the Royals have played several games without a back up middle infielder.

I know these numbers will even out as the season progresses. The point is, Dayton Moore threw away a valuable player the Royals could have used effectively, while keeping less valuable commodities. And he paid $575,000 to do it.

It is for reasons like this that fans should be skeptical of Dayton Moore as a general manager. He has done a brilliant job building up the minors league system, and improving the major league roster. It is the little things that need to be done in conjunction with those other things that build championship rosters.

Having a roster with no true back up middle infielder is just plain stupid. Putting the team in a position where Moore didn’t feel he had a choice is another matter. It is an indication he doesn’t know how to put together a major league ball club.

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Tags: Dayton Moore Emilio Bonifacio Jarrod Dyson Kansas City Royals Lorenzo Mike Moustakas

  • kcstengelSr

    any truth to the story that bonifacio did not want to ride the pines for kansas city? he gets to play for the cubs.

  • Bert45

    There isn’t one position that Bonifacio is a defensive improvement with the 2014 KC Royals. I believe he saw this as a problem with getting regular AB’s and a real opportunity to show his offensive skills. The Cubs provide him an opportunity to get those regular AB’s he needs to stay sharp. The 2014 Royals would not be able to provide Boni that opportunity and @ 3.5 million it makes sense that the Royals made the move they did. He wasn’t going to get the opportunity here so good for him that he’s making the best of his situation. Now after the season has started and Infante gets hit in the face and Boni starts all world who would’ve predicted that BTW, we could have used him but its all hindsight stuff. Now maybe the Royals have some money left to make a move before the deadline to improve areas of need, not spending 3.5 on a backup Utility guy. A move before the deadline might make more sense later on in the year. This team will hit better and they are still 4-4. Moose would still be getting his AB’s if Boni is here sitting on the bench. Moose cannot work his way out of his issues sitting on the bench. The Royals are simply doubling down on his potential….which is hard for fans to take. This league is littered with guys who have failed with one organization and “found it” with another. My thought is the Royals cant afford that to happen with Moose’ potential. Therefore a 3.5 million Utility guy is a luxury will not be able to afford. Boni’s hot start and some of our Offensive troubles are simply hindsight being 20/20.

  • Tyler_KC_Fan

    Bonifacio wouldn’t be doing anything special for the Royals. Last year he was a solid pick up for the Royals, but when you look at the team we had then it worked. The team we have now, he doesn’t fit. He primarily played 2B and we have Infante now. He played a little SS, we still have Esky. He could play outfield but we have Gordon, Cain, Aoki, Dyson, and Maxwell. So he wouldn’t play much outfield or infield. Now, if you were to tell me that you predicted Infante would get hit in the face with a fastball, I would tell you to buy a lottory ticket. Infante isn’t 100%, yet he is dominating. He missed 2 games after getting drilled in the face. You may dog on Gio and maybe Colon, but the fact is that they are our back up players. Valencia is going to be a 1B and 3B backup while we will use Gio or Colon (who ever is hitting better at the time if they need to be brought up). Gio came up and went 1-3 while playing solid defense. Gio is a lot cheaper than Bonifacio is.

    One point you made was the fact that the Royals are paying nearly $10M for two pitchers but you’re okay with them paying a backup infielder $3.5M? That logically doesn’t make sense to me. Bonifacio wasn’t a stud and he isn’t a stud. We are paying 4 guys less then we would be paying Bonifacio to do everything he would be doing. But as Bert said, he isn’t any better then what we have.

    The Royals are doing just fine. If you want to credit Valencia at 2B being the reason why we lost to the White Sox, then we have to credit Salvy for losing the game against DET when he threw to 3B and didn’t even get it close to Valenica. Then we also have to credit Collins and Bueno for letting the game get out of reach during the 5-1 loss to Tampa. We played 2 Cy Young pitchers and our offense was shut down, but we also shut down DET. This team is a solid team that I’m sure teams like the Twins, White Sox, Cubs, Astros, Marlins, Phillies, Mets, Rockies, Padres and maybe even the Dodgers and Yankees wish they had. We aren’t a power hitting team but we are a fast, resilient, young and hungry team that has a lot of studs. Five players up for a Golden Glove last year, three winning and the other two came in second. We have a starting rotation that doesn’t have a weak spot. Our young players are great players and our vets are helping run the team. This team is set to do great things. Moore has done amazing with the budget he has. And to play devils advocate, how do you know to manage a professional team? We don’t know the ins and outs of the Royals, nor should we. But to make comments that Moore is clueless on how to run a team is a bit dramatic because you wouldn’t do any better and with what cards he has been dealt, he is doing a great job.

  • jimfetterolf

    The reason for releasing Bonifacio is that he doesn’t want to be a UIF and has a history of being a cancer on the bench. That’s why Toronto gave him away. As for trading him being mismanagement, after release Bonifacio only got a minor league contract. Dayton Moore can’t force other teams to trade for a player.

    As for Dyson, he hits righties.

    As for Moose, his new swing appears to have broken down, so Omaha in May may be the way. He’ll only get a month. If Gio keeps hitting, he and Valencia will cover 3rd.

  • Dave Hill

    I like Moore as an evaluator of minor league talent, but I agree in that he cannot construct a major league ballclub. Just the continued indecision to carry six or seven relievers at this point in the season is maddening.

    I also wonder how much say Yost has on the roster. I really don’t think that there is a need for Maxwell on this team, yet Ned likes him, so he stays.