"In Kansas City, they always had someone else they wanted. They never really wanted me there. I always did well enough to hang around but was always passed up." -Kila Ka'aihue. You can read the entire article here.Kila Ka'aihue may very well have a valid complaint here, but for some reason this quotation really rubs me the wrong way. Entering 2009, Ka'aihue probably deserved a shot to be the everyday first baseman. Instead that privilege went to the recently acquired Mike Jacobs. The Jacobs acquisition was incredibly frustrating for many Royals fans, who believed Ka'aihue had really found something with that bat. However, according to some the organization believed Ka'aihue had "slider" bat speed.
Even if the organization felt that Ka'aihue could be a Major League regular, Ka'aihue had only played in 33 games at the Triple-A level. Sure he mashed, but for a guy that wasn't a top prospect, I don't blame the organization for wanting to see more before handing him the first base position.
In 2009, Ka'aihue put together a fine season, but didn't set the world on fire in 2008. He probably did enough to deserve a September call up, but instead he was left to finish the season in Omaha and go home. Not happy with his 2009 showing the Royals once again didn't feel the need to name him the starter for 2010.
The following season, Ka'aihue went back to Omaha and returned to 2008 form. Eventually, Ka'aihue played in 52 big league games that season, but hit a paltry .217/.307/.394. Despite these struggles the Royals allowed him another shot in 2011. Ka'aihue opened the season as the first baseman and his line was even more putrid. In his 23 games Ka'aihue hit a measly .195/.295/.317.
I know it was a small sample, and Eric Hosmer was breathing down his neck, but if Ka'aihue would have hit he would have stayed. At this point he has played in 87 games and posted a .216/.309/.317 line. He is already 27, and it would seem he is going to get another shot with Oakland, while Manny Ramirez serves is 50 game suspension.
I think it is obvious that Kansas City was never confident in Ka'aihue like they were with the new wave of prospects. But at this point can we really point a finger and say they were wrong? Ka'aihue had a shot in 2010 to hit. He had a shot again in 2011. Both times he failed. Really, had he raked in Omaha in 2009 he would've had another shot at some point that season.
Really Ka'aihue says it best himself. He always hit well enough to hang around. But he wasn't passed up because a vendetta. He was passed up because ultimately he couldn't perform at the highest level of competition.
I was a huge Ka'aihue fan. I really hoped and at times believed that Ka'aihue would be the kind of prospect that comes out of no where and dominates. I really hoped that he could be the Royals Travis Hafner. Unfortunately things don't always go the way we plan, but we should remember that bitterness doesn't look good on anyone.