The Kansas City Royals have tried telling us that they plan on being competitive for the better part of three seasons now. I am 100% willing to give them a free pass for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. You sold your soul for the run and it ended. Okay. Two years of 100-loss seasons to get right, boost the farm system…I’m good with it. Could not care less how much they lost in those seasons.
Then shit hit the fan in 2020. The team finished 26-34 which is the same pace as a 70-92 season if they had played all year. We obviously can’t know they would have done that for a full 162, but hey, it was progress. 74 wins in 2021 and…okay. Time to pick up the pace a bit, but okay. With all of that being said, this team has to start competing. Right now. And they’re doing okay with it! One game under .500 in the first couple weeks of the season. The young pitching has been…spotty. The offense has been atrocious. The bullpen and the defense are absolutely nails.
It’s time to start playing for the future. I loved the Carlos Santana signing at the time. He was legitimately a very good hitter into the beginning of July last year too! I think people forget that. He had like 15 HR and a .370 OBP into July. He is batting .179 in 358 PA since July 1st. I have no idea what happened to him, maybe the injury they talked about really is still hampering him, but he cannot continue to play for this team. Vinnie Pasquantino is absolutely raking in Omaha, and if Bobby Witt Jr. is any evidence, there is a STEEP learning curve in the major leagues. The sooner some of these kids make their way to The Show, the sooner we can expect them to begin making the necessary adjustments to be productive big league htiters.
Show me that you’re ready to compete. Show me that you’re serious about wanting to open your playoff window. Show me that you’re not willing to accept mediocrity anymore. Because right now what the Royals brass is telling us and the players is that mediocrity is acceptable if you make a lot of money. It’s okay to suck if we like you. It’s okay to not produce and not be a part of the future and do nothing to contribute to the team if you were a big free agent signing. The worst part about all of this might be that the Royals actually have some guys who are hitting! Salvy, Lopez, Dozier, Benintendi, and MAT are all hitting at or above expectation. That’s over half your lineup. Bobby Witt Jr. will be fine. Whit, Mondesi, and the first basemen are killing this team. One change may make a huge difference right now.
To some extent I get it. I really do. If you think Carlos Santana is a valuable piece of whatever, fine. He can sit on the bench, you can DFA Ryan O’Hearn, who isn’t playing anyways, and start Vinnie Pasquantino or Emmanuel Rivera at first base. At the moment, Rivera has the fourth best wRC+ among all qualified hitters in AAA. The production of Vinnie Pasquantino speaks for itself. Here’s a list of players in the minor leagues (min. 500 PA) aged 25 or younger with a better wRC+ than Pasquantino since 2019:
- Julio Rodriguez 166
- Luis Robert 166
- Daulton Varsho 160
- Abraham Toro 159
- Justin Yurchak 158
- Andy Pages 156
- Josh Smith 155
- Gavin Lux 155
- Francisco Alvarez 155
- Alec Bohm 155
- Wander Franco 154
- Joey Wiemer 154
That’s it. Vinnie Pasquantino’s 153 wRC+ since 2019 is the 13th best mark of any sub-25-year old in all of MiLB in that time span. His 0.91 BB/K is second to just Wander Franco in that group and his .267 ISO ranks fourth in the group. All the kid does is hit. Could he benefit from more time in the minors? Maybe? But like I said, he is one of the most prolific hitters in all of MiLB and we’ve seen prospects come up and take time to get adjusted to big league pitching. What do you lose by bringing him up? The sooner he comes up, the sooner he can make adjustments and be a difference maker in the big leagues. It’s not like the guy he’d be replacing is hitting, so you’re not losing anything in the meantime anyway.
Fine. So it’s not Pasquantino right now. Then it’s time to give Emmanuel Rivera an extended look in the big leagues until you’re ready to promote one of the first base prospects. Rivera is a good enough athlete that has played some first base in his career already. He’s currently batting .378 with a 213 wRC+ for Omaha with a 1.14 BB/K. This is after he clobbered the ball in AAA last year and earned a callup that ended pretty quickly due to a broken hamate bone in his hand. If you don’t want to make a 40-man roster move and call up Vinnie yet, at least give a look to Rivera and see if he can be a viable bench option in the big leagues long-term.
If it wasn’t for the lowly Baltimore Orioles, the Royals would be in last place in runs in MLB by a decent margin. At least the Orioles can use the excuse of playing in the best division in baseball for some of their woes. I am TIRED of watching bad major league baseball players get everyday at bats for this team. I am TIRED of watching inept offenses lose games 1-0 after your $15M free agent signing and dynamic young bullpen do their jobs marvelously. I am TIRED of this team lying to us about wanting to compete. You cannot seriously give everyday at bats to Ryan O’Hearn and Carlos Santana for the last three years and expect me to believe you want to win games right now.
SHOW ME you want to win games. SHOW ME that you’re serious about contention. Put the best players on the field. Put the players on the field who are going to be here for the next playoff window. Play the kids who have a chance of being the solution to the losing. Carlos Santana ain’t it. Hell, Whit Merrifield shouldn’t even be playing *every* day at the moment (though, I’m obviously less concerned about that at the moment). Bobby Witt Jr. is the perfect example of why the Royals should be doing everything in their power to get the young guys up here as soon as they’re ready. They *probably* aren’t going to hit right away. Get the learning curves out of the way now. I would much rather watch Vinnie Pasquantino struggle than the ghost of Carlos Santana. But maybe that’s just me.
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