With the annual September privilege of expanded rosters, the Royals promoted forgotten savior Ryan Shealy and internet hero Kila Ka'aihue. With supposed prospect Billy Butler and Everyday Ross Gload (who started something like 400 consecutive games for Hillman) the most impotent team of the decade suddenly found itself with four options at 1B/DH.
Lets take a look at how Hillman has divided the playing time thus far.
|9/4||Butler||Guillen||Gload 2 innings, 0 PAs; Kila PR for Guillen|
Although Hillman has somewhat surprisingly relegated Gload to the bench -- though he did start in left on 9/5 -- he's seemingly undermined that partial solution by introducing Guillen into the DH mix. Given the viccisitudes of the Hillman-Guillen relationship, it's impossible for this uinformed outsider to say exactly why this is happening, however the simplest explanation is that Hillman is loath to remove Citizen Hoagy from the lineup for fear of clubhouse eruption #117 of 2008.
Dayton Moore deserves these two, since he brought them together.
With Guillen sliding into semi-regular DH mode, a wider playing time philosophy may be exposing itself:
|PAs since 9/2|
Now, I know what you're expecting: an impassioned cry of Kila Now! and 2-4 Huber anecdotes. To do so would be to do a disservice to Huber's legacy however. This is still Kila's first callup, not his third or fourth, and we are still dealing with a player who has only seen something like 140 PAs above AA. A large part of Kila's callup is to acclimate him to the off-the-field side of professional baseball and to reward him, emotionally and financially, for his tremendous performance this season. We're stil two years from Kila reaching true Huber status, and unlike, say, Huber v. Minky years ago, there's still some definite upside potential ($1 dollar to Simmons) in Ryan Shealy. It's in the best interests of the franchise to get Shealy more at bats than Kila this month.
The problem is that Shealy isn't playing enough, and may never, given Hillman's desire to keep Guillen and Butler in the lineup every... single... day. Guillen, granted, is possibly a seperate issue, and only a partial member of the 1B/DH club. Yes, he shouldn't be playing, but maybe it's just easier for everyone if he does, even with the cascade effects this creates.
Butler however, as weird as it seems to say this, should not be playing everyday anymore. The Royals have been remarkably patient with Billy this season, on the heels of handig him an everyday role from late June of his rookie year. Yes, Butler remains light years ahead of the other candidates, and indeed of everyone else on the roster, in terms of his potential ceiling. (Light years, ceiling? Yay mixed metaphors.) Nevertheless, the blogosphere is nothing if not the exploration of minor issues in major detail, and Butler's development -- which has been towards Ken Harvey this season -- is not going to be curtailed if he loses 20 September PAs to Ryan Shealy. He's still 22, and to date, he's the owner of 796 Big League PAs. Hillman can take the pedal off the Butler accelerator over the next three weeks. I'm no Shealy fan at this point, but you could make a case that there still might be something there, especially given his injury issues last season. He's certainly not in the Gload zone yet.
The Royals have twenty games left and roughly 180 1B/DH PAs to play with. Trey's been something of a dullard thus far in terms of sneaking guys PAs late in games (Kila in as a PR, wow, that was Buddy-esque) and I'd love to see that change. Overall, here's how I'd like to see those final 180 PAs distributed: