Elliot Johnson is hitting .071 AVG/.071 OBP/.071 SLUG since the 4-game Rays series a week and a half ago and .231/.262/.314 on the season. He is now the everyday second baseman thanks to the demotion of Chris Getz (THANK GOD) with the return from the disabled list of center fielder Jarrod Dyson. Why is this guy – who was a player to be named later in the Shields trade – blocking someone in the minors? Sure, he is a perfect 11 for 11 stolen bases – has plaued some good defense has showed a little bit of pop – and he is better than Getz, but who isn’t? But, he is not the answer at second. It would include having to make a roster move, but I think this would be the ideal time to bring back up Johnny Giavotella. Gio has to bit the baseball to make up for his lack of defense at second base, and he has not proved to be able to do that yet at the big league level – hitting .242/.271/.340 with 3 HR and 36 RBI in 359 AB’s over 99 games in two stints in the bigs in 2011 and 2012. But, Gio has not really been given a chance to play every day for an extended period of time. I say this is the perfect chance to make that happen, so the Royals can get a true gauge on Gio and decide if he is, or is not part of the future. Play him for two-three months everyday (unless they make a trade for Chase Utley or Michael Young at the trade deadline). Sure .290 in AAA may translate to .265 in the majors, but its better than what Johnson can provide – especially if he has gap power with a lot of doubles and the occasional HR. Now, if he hits .240 over two months, the answer is certainly out that Giavotella will not be the answer at second base. But, .265 could certainly put him in the mix for a roster spot going forward. Gio has played some outfield (12 games in left field) and third base (25 games), making 11 errors – but only four at second in 39 games. He is also hitting .287/.376/.416 – all below career norms (.305/.380/.440), but he has been hot this month, with a .470 OBP – .576 the last 10 games. He is a far better option than Johnson, who is a good utility guy, but not a regular. He also has six homers, 37 RBI with 18 2B’s. He also has a good 41/46 walk to strikeout rate. I guess the question becomes, who would be shipped out?
Oh, and PS, Johnson got picked off first base running for Moustakas tonight. This is one night after he struck out with a runner on first and third with nobody out. In the ninth inning. In a one-run game.
The Royals answered the what will happen to Danny Duffy when his 30-day rehab is over by activating him from the DL prior to yesterday’s game, and sending him to Omaha. Duffy was not ready to join the rotation as he has not thrown more than 68 pitches in any of his starts this year, and frankly, the team doesn’t have a huge need for a starter. Now, Wade Davis spot could be in jeopardy, when and if Felipe Paulino returns, but even Davis (4-5, 4.96 ERA) has been much better lately (dropped under a 5.00 ERA for the first time since May 5, has gone 1-0 over his last four outings with six runs allowed over a span of 24 2/3 innings with 21 Ks.). Duffy was not good in six rehab starts, posting a 0-2 record with a 7.84 ERA, with an unimpressive 1.935 WHIP and 5.2 BB/9. He was having success with the strikeout (10.9 K/9). He was impressive on Tuesday, in pitching the first game of a double-header, allowing no runs and two hits in five innings, striking out four with just one walk in 65 pitches at Oklahoma City. Certainly a step in the right direction for Duffy, who could get the call later this year if there is a need in the rotation (if/when his pitch count is increased) or in the bullpen down the stretch.
Apparently, Alcides Escobar’s recent 10-game hot streak – 12 for 36 (.333) over his with four doubles, two RBI and seven runs scored – was good enough to sell Yost to put him back in the 2-hole. Esky hit .417/.475/.639 in a 9-game stretch in April, including two HR, but since has hit .228/.246/.277 with one homer in 212 plate appearances. Escobar should remain in the nine-hole. Yes, that is right, a .277 OBP in the 2-hole. Esky appeared to flourish in the 2-hole last year, but last season’s .293 (he was over .300 most of the year)/.331/.391 is clearly the outlier in his career, as you can see below:
We thought he had really turned the corner, but really it appears – at this time – that it was a fluke. I once foolishly said I thought Esky had the capability to hit upwards of 20 HR. Shame on me. Also, shame on Ned Yost and this regime for thinking he can hit second – and is “best suited” to hit there. I really don’t have an answer for who should bat second – the Sabermetric lineup had Hosmer in that spot, and I really liked that (PS that lineup averaged 4.2 runs per game, higher than any other lineup combo) – but it shouldn’t be Escobar.
- Billy Butler is hitting .303 since May 13 with a .404 OBP, but has a dreadful SLUG of .402 (just one HR).
- Luis Mendoza left the game tonight with a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning, but Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar gave it up and left the Mexican Mullet with a no-decision. Since pitching coach Dave Eiland taught him the cut fastball, Mendy has a 3.96 ERA in 30 games started in 182 innings pitched, allowing 184 hits, 59 walks and 19 HR with 123 K.
- Alex Gordon drove the bus in tonight’s 4-3 win. He broke a drought of 159 at-bats without homering when he hit a leadoff dong off starter Mike Minor. He wasn’t done, however, as he added a walk-off single to shallow left field in the 10th inning and he also scored a run on Butler’s third-inning single. Gordon now has 40 RBI on the year to go with a .293 average. He’s hit in three straight games and has gone 6 for 13 over that span with four RBI. He is hitting .365 against left-handed pitching – the highest by a left-handed hitter in Royals history. In fact, Gordon’s .980 OPS is the highest by a lefty against lefties in team history (George Brett’s .330/.395/.550 in 1985).
- Gordon and Butler are on pace for close to 90 RBI (Butler 89, Gordon 87). If both could get close to 100, it would be huge for the team, even if they combine to hit for just 30-35 HR.
- Ervin Santana (5-5) allowed three runs on six hits and three walks over six innings on 102 pitches Tuesday night. He struck out seven batters and his ERA is at 2.74 for the Royals. He hasn’t lost since May 28, when he was beaten by St. Louis for the tail end of four straight losing decisions.
- Greg Holland got the win tonight, continuing his beast-like ways. The Royals best choice for the All Star Game as of now. He struck out the side in the top of the ninth on just 11 pitches. He lowered his ERA to 1.86 and has struck out 47 of the 113 batters he has faced.
- Lorenzo Cain returned to the lineup tonight after missing the last two games. The slumping center fielder had gone just 4 for 38 (.105) over his last 10 contests. He has one homer, two RBI and one stolen base over that stretch. Cain is batting .262 on the season with nine steals.
- Catcher Salvador Perez had his first day off in 18 games from returning from the bereavement list on Sunday after hitting .083 in his last 24 AB’s. He has responded with going 4-8 in the two games against the Braves – including 3-4 with a RBI double tonight.