Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Future of Second Base

When the Royals selected Christian Colon with the fourth overall pick of the 2010 Amateur Draft, it looked as though they had filled the hole that was shortstop of the future. Several months later the Royals netted Alcides Escobar in the Zack Greinke trade and it appeared that Colon would eventually shift to second and the Royals infield would be set.

But then Colon struggled. In his first full season of professional baseball he hit just .257/.325/.342 in the hitter's paradise known as Arvest Ballpark. Meanwhile, fellow second base prospect Johnny Giavotella was doing his best to ensure that he would not be overlooked. One year after hitting .322/.395/.460, Giavotella blistered the Pacific Coast League by hitting .338/.390/.481. Entering 2012, it appeared that the Royals second baseman of the future wasn't Colon, but instead Giavotella, at least in the short term.

However, Giavotella played poorly in Spring Training, and while his counterpart Chris Getz didn't play much better he did enough to win the job. Giavotella responded by getting off to a slow start in Omaha, and then eventually heating up and raising his line to .331/.408/.504.

Down in Northwest Arkansas, Colon has also been doing his best to raise his stock. So far in 2012, Colon is hitting .311/.383/.449. Many believe Colon is finally getting his feet under him in professional baseball. Although, I should note that his 2012 line drive percentage of 14.6% is lower than his 2011 mark of 16.3%. With his 2012 success, it seems that Colon has re-positioned himself as Kansas City's long term answer.

As for the short term, the Royals have filled the position with a platoon of the aforementioned Giavotella and minor league warrior Irving Falu. Falu, who boasts a career minor league OPS of .694, is off to a fast start in Kansas City hitting .359.

Falu is an excellent story and it is hard to fault the Royals for playing the hot hand. I also think that Falu could wind up being a valuable asset as a cheap utility options for the next several seasons. Thanks to his defensive versatility, contact skills, and cost that's a valuable asset. However, I don't see why the Royals would call up Giavotella to platoon and pinch hit.

At this point, I get the vibe that Kansas City doesn't view Giavotella as a regular. Look at how the Royals have developed their prospects, the guys they view as long term staples of the ball club. They have repeatedly made it clear that you don't bring up prospects to bat sparingly. But yet all of the sudden they revert to the Justin Huber style of development for Johnny Giavotella? I have a hard time buying that.

I hope I'm wrong. The guy has already proven himself repeatedly in AAA. Maybe the organization doesn't see value in him playing everyday there anymore, but are you really giving him the best opportunity to succeed by giving him sparse at bats? Keep Irving Falu at utility, like I said he has value there.

Play Giavotella everyday. If you do so he'll have at least a season to establish some value. If Colon is knocking on the door, you have a good problem on your hands and have created a commodity. But don't treat Giavotella and Falu as placeholders, there's no benefit in that in the short or the long term.


  1. I agree, it just goes back to the fact the organization overvalues defense. The Orioles lead the league in errors but have led the AL East for most of the first 2 months. Defense is fun to watch but, it's like doctors, there is a very small percentage of time that the very best make a difference and its hard to tell when that is.

  2. First of all, if Moore can find a taker for Betty, that needs to be done ASAP. Do Brewers still need help at short? Falu fits the bill at utility far better and cheaper than Betty. And he will play the game the right way.

    Is Getz new offense for real? Play Gio at 2B for now, then platoon when Getz returns. Like Betty, he does not have any real trade value, but maybe we can flip Getz at trade deadline.