Last night, Ned Yost called on Jason Bourgeois to pinch hit for David Lough in the 8th inning. The Royals were down one and had nobody on base with one out. Matt Thornton, a lefty, was had come out of the pen for the White Sox and Lough, a lefthanded hitter, hit sixty points less against southpaws this year in Omaha than he did against right-handers. Expanded rosters, a tight game and Yost tried to gain a platoon advantage: a rather routine 'baseball' move.
Except it is a waste of time.
This is September and the Royals (maybe you've heard) are out of it. The organization has been very vocal in the impending off-season numbers crunch they will face when they try to protect as many prospects as they can on the 40 man roster from the Rule 5 Draft. David Lough currently holds one of those coveted 40 man roster spots.
Now, Jason Bourgeois has one, too, but don't we really already know pretty much what Bourgeois is? To begin with, Jason is thirty years old. He has accumulated 476 majore league plate appearances over four seasons. While he is 14 for 41 as a Royals, Bourgeois has managed to make five outs on the bases despite being on the paths just 18 times this year. You can probably live with Bourgeois as your fourth or fifth outfielder, but he is still thirty years old, not as fast as Jarrod Dyson, doesn't have the upside of Wil Myers (duh), doesn't have the power or the defense of Lorenzo Cain (if LoCain happens to be healthy) and is, well, older than David Lough.
Can David Lough play centerfield in the major leagues? Maybe, maybe not. Can he hit lefties enough to be a regular player if (who are we kidding? when) Cain and Dyson get hurt next year? Basically, can David Lough be the Royals' fourth or fifth outfielder in 2013? You don't know, I don't know and the Royals don't really know, either.
Lough, 26 years old, is no longer a hot prospect. He has spent what seems like half his career in AAA, where his numbers were pretty run of the mill. With each passing year, Lough is looking less like David DeJesus and more like Mitch Maier. If the latter is true, then Lough should be jettisoned at the end of the season to protect a younger and hopefully better player.
Before you do that, however, would not a prudent organization get a good look at a player? The Royals have played sixteen games since Lough was called up, appeared in nine, batted in eight. What's worse than judging a player on 30 September games? Judging him on 15 September games, while you give at-bats to a thirty year old version of the same guy whose value, as judged by the Astros and the Royals, was so low that he had to be teamed with Humberto Quintero to get a AA relief pitcher.
I know, I know. It is one at-bat in September. Heck, it is just eight or nine games in September and we are talking about a couple of guys who occupy some of the lower spots on the 40 man roster totem pole. Why the angst? Why the 700 words?
Why? Because the Royals do this all the time. They get just a peek at a player, but not too much. As if they are trying to keep a secret about a player's ability or lack thereof. Except they generally are keeping the secret from themselves.
Which brings us to Jake Odorizzi.
There has been a good deal of debate as to whether Odorizzi should be active in the majors at all. There are service time issues and the chance that the Royals could, under the right/wrong scenario, give up a full year of Odorizzi just for a couple of September starts.
Right or wrong, Odorizzi is in Kansas City, burning service days. Yet, the Royals have yet to give Jake, who has not pitched since September 11th, a start. On normal rest, Odorizzi could have started Sunday the 16th and, staying on normal rest, made a total of four starts in September.
How much can you learn from four September starts? Not a whole lot, but certainly more than the Royals are going to learn from the two starts they seem more likely to give their best current starting pitching prospect.
Again, two starts, four starts, it is all September. It is not a big deal how many Odorizzi gets. It is a little thing, just like pinch hitting Bourgeois for Lough is a very little thing. We have seen the Royals handle player after player in the same manner and most of those players, quite frankly, did not end up of any consequence.
An organization that does the little things wrong, however, probably is not setting itself up to do the important things right.