How do you solve a problem like Houstakas?

Jamie Squire

Don't doubt it for a minute. Two of the most disappointing players on the 2013 Kansas City Royals are Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. After Sunday's game, where Hosmer did something (for once) and Moustakas didn't (as usual), the wonder twins are posting a hitting line of a 215 batting average, a 290 on-base percentage, and a 319 slugging percentage. Hosmer's line is a robust 252/329/326, Moustakas' line is a vibrant 178/252/311. Together they have 11 doubles, 1 triple, and 5 home runs. They have 28 walks and 48 strikeouts.

The only thing keeping Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas in Kansas City is the negligence of Dayton Moore. The insurance policies for Hosmer and Moustakas are... not exactly impressive.

At First Base in Omaha:

Xavier Nady hit 237/288/347 over 736 PA with 4 different teams from 2010 to 2012. The main draw for people wanting Nady to be the temporary first baseman is that they've heard of him. But they don't know that he really hasn't hit much since being traded to the Yankees in 2008.

Chad Tracy is a Triple A lifer who has hit 265/340/463 in 1501 Triple A plate appearances over 4 years (his worst year coming in the Hitters Paradise of Colorado Springs). Chad Tracy has had the misfortune of being in organizations where 1st basemen already exist (The Rangers and the Rockies).

Max Ramirez is the most glamorous of the Omaha first basemen. He's been in AAA since 2008, hitting 274/347/435 in 1464 PA with Oklahoma City, Fresno, Iowa and Omaha. Ramirez has mainly played DH in Omaha with 10 games at first and 0 at catcher this year. In 140 Major League PA in 2008 and 2010, Ramirez hit 217/343/357 mainly playing Catcher.

At Third Base in Omaha:

The Main Third Baseman is Irving Falu. Falu's line has improved to 277/322/372 (thanks to a 353/389/549 May). Falu has hit 290/347/376 in six seasons at AAA and his 2013 is still behind the hitting marks he set in 2011 and 2012. Falu got 19 starts in Kansas City in 2012, hitting 341/371/435.

Also Johnny Giavotella has gotten some starts at 3rd base. Probably to make it easier to keep the current Getz/Johnson Legion of Doom tag team alive for this year. Either way, Johnny's not going to be here to play 3rd base. Ned would rather play Tejada every day first. Anthony Seratelli has one start at 3rd but has mainly played Right Field this year. Seratelli's time at 3rd includes 16 errors in 83 games and 3rd Base may rate as Seratelli's worst defensive position. Unless your first baseman is Inspector Gadget, you may not want Seratelli to play 3rd base.

There's also Miguel Tejada. Who'd likely be in play for some starts at third in the event that reality is acknowledged and Moustakas is demoted. Miguel Tejada is like an extra coach. But he's also a coach who has outhit Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.

While I acknowledge that

a) Hosmer is not likely to get demoted while his batting average is so high (I can buy the idea that this organization overvalues batting average, they must be confused about how they can be top 5 in batting average in the AL and never be top 5 in wins)


b) There's not any promising non-Hosmer options at first in the Minors (seriously, they're all Tyler Palkos and Dan Quayles).

I'm willing to throw some names on the table who are never getting serious MLB time in their current organization but who might be cheap and available in a situation where the Organization can't stomach playing Billy Butler at first base every day.

How do we determine which first basemen are blocked? Easy, look at the contract length and amount for the current MLB first basemen. For example, First Basemen who are under contract for 2014:

Joey Votto Cin 225M/10
Albert Pujols Ana 212M/8
Prince Fielder DET 168M/7
Adrian Gonzalez LAD 112M/5
Ryan Howard Phi 85M/3
Mark Teixeira NYY 69.4M/3
Anthony Rizzo Cubs 40M/6

The Reds have 35yo AAA-lifer Mike Hessman at 1st with Neftali Soto playing 1st and 3rd. Soto just got called up to play for the Reds this weekend.

The Angels have Efren Navarro, in his 3rd season at Salt Lake City. Navarro has a 308/360/449 line in AAA and was briefly in Anaheim in 2011. He's now behind Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Navarro is also 27 already. But he either doesn't have as much of an home-field boost from playing in Salt Lake City, or he hits well at all the high altitudes. He probably doesn't have the power of a Hosmer (23 HR in 1300 AAA PA) but he could be a favorite of people who think First Base Defense is a must-have. Those people are wrong, but never mind that.

The Tigers have 27yo Jordan Lennerton in his first AAA season. Lennerton has never played a field position outside of first base and averaged around 18 HRs per 162 in the Minors. Nothing to really write home about. If the Tigers wind up with a homegrown first baseman, they'll figure out how to handle that..

The Dodgers AAA first baseman is Scott Van Slyke, who is 6'5/250 and 26 years old. He's mainly played the outfield for the Dodgers. Plus the Dodgers are an expensive dumpster fire that'll probably have enough injuries to merit SVS playing if he's actually good.

The Phillies AAA first baseman is 26 year old Cody Overbeck. Overbeck is entering his 2nd full year in AAA (originally starting his time in AAA in 2011). Overbeck hasn't hit in AAA (255/310/421), doesn't hit for much power, and is blocked by the idiotic Ryan Howard extension. Overbeck also plays 3rd base.

The Yankees' AAA first baseman is Dan Johnson, veteran of the A's, Rays, Bay Stars and White Sox. Johnson has hit 291/408/525 in ten AAA seasons and 237/338/412 in 7 Major League seasons. Johnson's main contribution in the Majors involves hitting timely home runs for the Tampa Bay Rays. The fact that Dan Johnson lost out on a temp job in the Majors to Lyle Overbay probably says something about Dan Johnson.

The Cubs are new to any blocked first baseman list after extending Anthony Rizzo for a few years. Their AAA first baseman is AAA veteran Brad Nelson. Who has hit 268/351/464 in 9 AAA season and played 28 games for the Brewers in 2008 and 2009 (going 0 for 21 in his 2009 stint)

In other words, most teams with their first base situations sealed up tend to carry AAA first basemen who aren't going to make it in most organizations anyways.

Plus if we dig too deep into AAA first basemen, we find that the AAA home run leader is a guy who lost his job to Eric Hosmer two years ago. That would be kinda depressing to think about.

Essentially, we know how the organization will "solve" their problem. They'll keep starting the chosen ones at 1st and 3rd every day, despite their glaring flaws as players (Hosmer's long swing, Moustakas/Hosmer's inability to hit left-handed pitching, Moustakas' tendency to go hitless for entire series). They'll keep starting these guys, no matter what the impact would be compared to the team finding the mythical replacement player. At worse, they'll waste their best chance to be relevant in 10 years and their best chance to be relevant for any time in the near future, on these two guys. They could also trade either one of these guys, but that's not a conversation that'll occur right now.

In the scheme of things, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are supposed to be better than Billy Butler and Alex Gordon. They'll get their time, plus half, to prove or disprove that hope. No matter how many seasons Moustakas is far below average with his bat. No matter how low Eric Hosmer ranks compared to any other young first baseman.

They'll get their time because Ned Yost has never been wrong about a young guy who he thought would make it (as long as you ignore when he was wrong in Milwaukee. Bill Hall). They'll get their time, but will KC fans get our time?

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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