Dealing With Depth

The Royals have been making tallies in a stat column that they do not see very often. I am not talking about the Win Column. Even the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, the worst team in Major League history, won 20 games. I am talking about the Days in 1st Place Column. The Royals have made a few tallies there in recent history, but not much. Which is why a Royals fan should never take such an oddity for granted. It is a sign the season is going better than expected.

Certainly there are some issues the Royals fan-base is, and should be complaining about. Mainly, why Kyle Davies hasn’t changed his name to Chris George. I suppose some of Ned Yost’s management of the bullpen could be called into question, but over 162 games there’s going to be plenty of that with any manager. However, I have seen some complaining in the Twittesphere, and in other mediums about playing time for some fan favorite players.

There are some things to complain about during a baseball season. Kila Ka’aihue and Mike Aviles not being the line-up is not one of them. Both players have shown success in the past and become fan favorites. For some reason these two aren’t getting it done at the plate. When you add in Aviles’ defense there is no wonder he gets taken out of the line-up. I’m not writing this to defend Ned Yost’s line-up, or discuss a man crush on Chris Getz. I’m writing this because we’re seeing something Royals fans aren’t used to, but will probably be seeing more of as the prospects come up: Organizational Depth.

Having depth means good players will be sitting on the bench, or sent to the minors. That’s a good thing. Our perception of what a good player is gets distorted when you watch a bad team year after year. I get the feeling Royals fans over-value David DeJesus and Zack Greinke because they were the best players on the team. But could they have been the best players on contending teams? Certainly a 2009 Zack Greinke would have been an ace on any staff, but not a 2007 or a 2010 Zack Greinke. Let’s take a look at David DeJesus: his career BA/OBP/SLG is .288/.359/.424. Jeff Francoeur’s career is .294/.309/.431. There’s not that much of a difference there. Yet, most Royals fans view David DeJesus as a potential All-Star, and Jeff Francoeur as damaged goods looking for a fresh start. And Frenchy is the better defender.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I enjoyed watching David DeJesus, and Zack Greinke. They are great players. But the Royals DID NOT WIN GAMES when they were here. The Royals DID NOT WIN GAMES when Mike Aviles was the Player of The Year in 2008. Having a better team means getting and developing better players. This means some of our favorite players might have to take a different role.

David DeJesus is off to a rough start in Oakland (photo by Minda Haas)

A day is coming, possibly later this year that one of the four hitting first baseman will get traded. (Homser, Butler, Ka’aihue, Robinson) Depending on who your favorites are, you’re going to be upset when it happens. But that’s going to happen. Having good players you don’t need is a form of currency. The farm system isn’t going to be able to fill every hole by itself. But if you can trade off parts you don’t need for parts you do, it limits your need for high priced free agents.

We’re seeing a nice transition within the organization. We’re going to see things that happen with good teams that we’re not used to; good players on the bench, waiting in line at Kauffman, bandwagon fans, managers decisions making a difference in the division race. But I know I’m not alone in saying, if that’s what a good team has to put up with? Bring it!

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