I never thought I would be one of those writers with a cause célèbre, a single issue that I address frequently and passionately. But it would appear I have finally found my hot button issue.
I’ve bemoaned in two different articles recently the Royals’ handling of their need for a backup infielder – a “utility infielder,” if you will.
The collective scream of “No!” that you heard around Kansas City yesterday was fans reacting to the announcement that the Royals had signed Yuniesky Betancourt as a backup infielder. And I am back at the computer, this time not to address what the Royals should do. This time I have to address what it is they have done, which is more baffling than any decision to date.
If on no other basis that PR, this signing stinks. Betancourt’s inclusion in the Zack Greinke trade was seen by Royals fans as a case of addition by subtraction. Betancourt is probably the most reviled player in recent KC history. Fans celebrated every move Alcides Escobar made if for no other reason than that he is not Yuniesky Betancourt.
I have been railing about the Royals’ mishandling of Mike Aviles and Yamaico Navarro and their need for someone who can capably back up Escobar at shortstop as well as Mike Moustakas at third and whoever the Royals deem their starting second baseman.
Conventional wisdom says you need someone who isn’t necessarily sent out to win games, but who won’t lose games. Utility infielders usually are steady, not flashy, dependable, not streaky.
If that is the case, then Yuni is not your guy. Sure he has some pop, and can occasionally make an impressive play. But this is a guy who catches (or doesn’t catch) pop flies one-handed off to the side of his body. He fails with runners in scoring position. He covers very little ground.
That is, he covers very little ground at short. The Royals admit that Betancourt has only played nine games in his career at second base. As far as I know, he’s NEVER played third.
So the Royals problem really still isn’t fixed. You can’t blame the Royals for not having made a decision between Johnny Giavotella and Chris Getz. So they’ll probably carry both on the roster. So second is backed up already.
But who fills in for Moustakas? A guy who sucks at his natural position of shortstop and has never played third? Who shows lack of discipline and poor work habits? Whose physical skills are rapidly deteriorating?
I just don’t get it. And I don’t think I’m alone among Royals fans. Bringing back a guy who was unpopular is one thing. But bringing back an unpopular guy to play a role for which he’s poorly suited seems much worse.
I usually have on my powder-blue colored glasses for roster moves, but I don’t for this one. To me it’s just plain stupid.