This is why we can't have nice things.
Two days on, the decision to ship out Chip Ambres continues to baffle, especially now that the Royals have sent Guiel down as well, leaving the coveted 4th outfielder job in the hands of Shane Costa. The ever dilligent Dick Kaegel reports:
PEORIA, Ariz. - Shane Costa, somewhat unexpectedly, has won the Royals job as a backup outfielder.Strangely enough, the Royals 4th OFer controversy hasn't emerged as a national story... yet. Still, its just a strange move, especially considering Guiel's established semi-usefulness and emerging status as semi-Franchise Mascot the last few seasons, with his appearance out of the Mexican desert, strange comeback from near blindness and heroics with Team Canada. All that was washed away by Shane Costa's .289 batting average in Spring Training.
Competitor Aaron Guiel was removed from the picture on Wednesday when he was optioned to Triple-A Omaha. The Royals dropped Chip Ambres from the fourth-outfielder chase just 24 hours earlier by designating him for assignment.
"I was told it was between Chip and me, because of the experience we had, and they designated Chip. And where does he come from?" Guiel said, referring to Costa.
Basically, Costa came from nowhere. When Spring Training began, he was considered a player just tuning up for Triple-A Omaha. But one day in mid-training, manager Buddy Bell almost casually dropped in his name as a backup candidate.
Apparently, its a "speed and defense" move, which isn't a bad idea I guess. Probably there'll be 60-70 games this season when our Royals need to protect a late-inning lead, and then subbing in Costa might help. It essentially comes down to one or two plays he'll make in some 8th inning somewhere that perhaps Guiel wouldn't. And on decisions like this, hundreds of thousands of dollars are made and lost for these guys.
Not that Guiel won't be back up at some point after the inevitable demotion/injury/trade. Or just from a simple change of mind. This is the same team that made the Pickering-Harvey camp battle a kind of test case for the sensibilities of the franchise, announced Pick' the winner, then sent him to the underworld after 26 PAs.
Lastly, what are the saddest words in the English language? "Opening Day Starter Scott Elarton".