Change Ups

Textbook fundamentals. - Bob Levey

What do you do when you don't have any options? Change things anyway.

Baseball is a little ridiculous in how players are handled. Go to most any youth baseball game and the coaches are, sadly (and I say that as a very non-make-everybody-feel-good-treat-everyone-the-same kind of guy), yelling and agonizing quite outwardly over mistakes made by their players. Move to the major league level: calm and reserved is the mantra. For godssake, don't show anyone up, don't put them under pressure: you can't play the game that way.

I get it and I'm not really saying change the culture of the sport. It's too late and, truthfully, you really can't play good baseball if every out and every mistake leads to a benching or a dressing down in front of 30,000...well, 12,000 fans. In football, you're star first round running back is not making the plays, you can yell at him, bench him for a series or two and likely get a motivated player back out on the field playing effectively. Not in baseball.

Now, I am neither in the clubhouse or close to the dirt (unless by dirt you mean the 800 acres I farm as a hobby), so I don't know if the current mood of the Royals is one of trying too hard or being too comfortable. No matter which, the end result is a listless almost sleepwalking team on the field.

They have scored three runs or less in 9 of the last 15 games and lost 2 of those 6 games in which the Royals actually managed to get more than three runs. The Royals have wasted SEVEN straight James Shields and Ervin Santana starts that were very winnable. Kansas City's last three wins have been against Houston, Barry Enright and Joe Blanton. It is only a slight bit of sarcasm to say that Alex Gordon's check swing out to the pitcher with two runners on last night was likely the result of being distracted by seldom seen sight of guys in the same color jersey as his own being within his field of vision when Alex was batting.

So, pop quiz, hotshot. What do you do?

The Royals have a history of sending guys to the minors. Mark Teahen, back when we thought he could turn into something - which he did for one golden summer. Billy Butler was sent down almost exclusively because of issues that had nothing to do with his production on the diamond. While revisionist history is that Alex Gordon was sent down to learn a new position, that is not entirely true. Gordon was sent Omaha almost entirely because of not producing on the field and the position change was just part of the solution.

With the exception of Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon and Sal Perez, this team is playing crappy defense. With the exception of those three (and that's being generous to Perez) and Billy Butler (and that's kind of generous, too), no one is, you know, HITTING the ball. Kelvin Herrera, for all the strikeouts and the almost inevitable improvement that is likely to come in his ridiculous home run rate, looks to me as a pitcher whose head is spinning every time he enters a game.

I don't see a scenario where Ned Yost is fired this month or the next. If I was GM, I would consider it, but I'm not sure that is my first course of action. I would send a message to this team before it moves from flirting with .500 to hopelessly below the water line.

There are no ready replacements, no one that deserves more time, but I don't care: send Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas to Omaha. Will they learn anything feasting on AAA pitching? Probably not. They might pick up some confidence, but that's not really the point of my move, either. I also have no concrete reason to believe that either of them is resting on their prospect status or have a feeling of untouchability. That said, I don't care. They are not getting it done and I want to send a message to them and the entire organization to wake the blank up.

If I have to watch Miguel Tejeda play third base for 20 days, Billy Butler play first and have Xavier Nady be my designated hitter, so be it. Eric Hosmer is slugging THREE points less than Alcides Escobar and Escobar is not hitting near enough! You know the difference between Chris Getz' line and Mike Moustakas'? Me neither!

I love Kelvin Herrera, but maybe a little AAA break is in order. From an admittedly far distance, Herrera strikes me as someone who just needs a mental breather. Louis Coleman is down there and capable if nothing more and already on the 40 man roster. Frankly, getting Herrera off the 25 man roster is apparently the only way to keep Ned Yost from pitching him in the eighth inning of games.

Without question, sending Hosmer, Moustakas and Herrera to Omaha in one fell swoop and replacing them with two old guys and an average AAA reliever is an overreaction. It might be over the top to the point that it destroys the mentality of this team. However, it could also serve as a wake-up call to the entire organization: produce or get out.

It is an overreaction. It may even be hysteria. I don't care.

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