Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Patience is Key..

Well, the Royals won again today, and now sit at 7-4 and atop the AL Wildcard leaderboard.  Obviously, we're 11 games into the year and it's WAY too early to make any assumptions about the 2011 season.. However, the Royals have avoided their characteristic slow start this season and now come home for an 8 game home stand which sees them facing the Mariners and the Indians (losers of 2 in a row).  Theoretically, the Royals could win 6 games and see themselves sitting at the top of the division almost a month into the season.  This would be great news.  It would be a testament to the young(ish) players the Royals brought in or called up for this season.. Ka'aihue, Francouer, Cabrera, etc. have all been contributors to this point.  Even players like Chris Getz and Matt Treanor have made impacts.  This has all been great and really fun to watch, but do not let it trick you into thinking it would be okay to rush our prospects.

It has been clear that many baseball teams have underperformed to this point this season.  The Royals may very well take advantage of all this bad baseball and actually finish .500 this year, I'm not predicting it, but I'm certainly willing to offer up the possibility that it could happen.  What I am most afraid of for this season is not losing 100 games, it is rushing players like Eric Hosmer and Mike Montgomery to the big leagues.  Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain are basically locks to see the bigs sometime before the All Star Break this season, because they have both spent time previous to this season in AAA.  Eric Hosmer, however is 21 years old and has only played in ~50 games in AA.  He needs to spend the whole season (or at least until September) in AAA.  You can not leave a player in the minors too long (and even if you could, one season certainly would not be the cutoff point).  However, you CERTAINLY can rush a player to the bigs too soon.. (see ANY of the Royals top prospects over the last decade).  By bringing Hosmer to the majors this year you gain NOTHING.  It would involve sitting/trading one of Billy Butler or Kila Ka'aihue and there is no reason to do that until next offseason.  Give both of those players a year to hit and show what they can do before you decide which you would like to keep and which you would like to trade away.

The same mantra goes for Mike Montgomery and all of our young starting pitching.  Give them each a season in AAA to hone their craft, certainly they will only get better over time.  Our rotation is not good at this point, but we aren't planning on winning the world series this season yet either.  I can think of a situation MAYBE where a pitcher gets hurt and goes down in mid/late July in which I might be okay with bringing up a young hurler, but we can cross that bridge when we get to it.  At this point I'd like anyone under the age of 23 to stay in the minors this season, please.

As an aside, scouts and statisticians can agree that players peak when they are 27-32 (or so).  Don't you want to hang on to our young players for all or at least most of this time period?  You're not hurting yourself by being patient, but you could easily ruin this whole "The Process" by bringing players up before their time.

Thanks for reading.

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