Monday, May 9, 2011

Your Hearts Must Have The Courage

...for the changing of the guards
(From "Changing Of The Guards," Street Legal)

I realize I am likely the last Royals blogger to say something about the Eric Hosmer callup, but really, what is there to say? I would have liked to see Kila Ka'aihue get a little more time to prove himself, but that's the way it goes sometimes. You can't really keep a guy hitting .439 with an OPS of 1.107 at AAA any longer than the Royals did. The fact that we still don't know for sure whether Kila is a bonafide major leaguer is due to the Royals trading for Mike Jacobs, not due to Eric Hosmer being called up. But that mistake happened and we can't fix it, just gripe about it.

The more interesting aspect of the Hosmer callup is what it says about the Royals organization right now. Whether you believe it or not, the Royals obviously think they are contenders this year. Personally, I don't think this team is good enough to win the AL Central, although they certainly look better than most people thought at the beginning of the season. And hey, as long as they are within a good two weeks of the division lead, they are actually contenders. I don't think Cleveland will continue on their 108-win pace, so why not give it a shot this year?

The easy play for the Royals would have been to let Kila keep playing here for another month, then call up Hosmer and not cost themselves an extra $8-$10 million in arbitration years from now. Instead, the Royals did the right thing for the team on the field, and for the fans. They should be commended for that.

It will be interesting to see how committed the Royals stay to the idea of contending this year. I can't imagine them trading top prospects for short-term "rental players." On the other hand, you could argue that adding Danny Duffy and Mike Montgomery to the rotation is a talent upgrade over whomever they replace, and a "free" one to boot. And adding Mike Moustakas to the lineup actually strengthens the bench, as he likely takes playing time away from Wilson Betemit and Mike Aviles. (In a perfect world, Aviles would start at second and Chris Getz would be benched. But in the name of defense and general scrappiness, I have no doubt Getz will see the majority of the time at second.)

In a way, the Royals are playing with house money. No one expected them to contend this year. Now, they do find themselves in the race, early as it may be. Any prospect they call up will benefit from playing in important games, if the Royals can stay in it. If the Royals fall out of contention, then they can focus on getting as many prospects who deserve it to the majors. It's a good spot to be in.

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