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The Future and Second Base

Tony Abreu is one of many so-so options the Royals have at second.   The club is doing a remarkable job of not finding out much about any of their options.
Tony Abreu is one of many so-so options the Royals have at second. The club is doing a remarkable job of not finding out much about any of their options.

Going into this off-season, the Royals glaring point of emphasis has to be and will be improving the starting rotation. That is a no-brainer, even for this sometimes priority challenged organization.

The bullpen, after all, has been very good despite losing Joakim Soria to injury before the season started. Even after trading Jonathan Broxton and giving Jose Mijares away, the pen is still one of the strengths of the ballclub.

In the field and at the plate, for better or worse, the Royals are set at eight positions. Butler is a fixture at DH, as is Gordon in left field. Escobar at short and Perez behind the plate are the future, both in talent in because of their long-term contracts, at those two positions. Moustakas and Hosmer own the corners of the infield. Whatever happens with Lorenzo Cain the rest of 2012, the Royals will need to see more of him in center next season to be sure what they have (right now, it looks pretty good). As for right, at some point the organization will simply have to move from Jeff Francoeur to Wil Myers.

Perhaps 'set' is not the right term, but the 'plan' for the immediate future is clear at eight out of nine positions.

That leaves second base. What should the Royals do? Your options are after the jump.

The incumbent is Chris Getz, who is not near as annoying as in past seasons. A triple slash of .280/.320/.372 and an OPS+ of 89 all add up to a career year for Getz. In a baseball world where offensive second basemen are few and far between, Getz remains a touch below average, but not hideously awful. Probably had the Royals not dallied with Yuniesky Betancourt much of the first half, Getz might well end up giving the team 1.5 or soWAR by the end of the season. That of course, assumes that Getz could stay healthy playing every day: something he has not done in any of his four major league seasons.

That's kind of the rub with Chris Getz - even the new improved batting stance Getz: he might be almost average in a good year if he could stay healthy, which he never has. In addition, Chris is going to start to cost noticeable money. After making just under a million in 2012, Getz will be in line for some type of raise via arbitration (his first time) this off season. He won't make a lot (something less than $2 million, more likely something around $1.5 million), but that begins to be a number for a guy you're not exactly sold on, has trouble staying healthy and basically plays just one position.

With the promotion of Christian Colon to Omaha, the AAA roster offers two 'second basemen of the future'...sort of. Colon, who has mostly played shortstop since being drafted fourth overall in 2010, profiles in the majors as either a second baseman (if he can play everyday) or as a utility infielder. In 200 games at AA, Colon walked as many times as he struck out. A .289/.364/.392 line this year in Northwest Arkansas is the best Colon has managed at any stop, but not exactly light the world on fire stuff, either. For what it's worth, Christian committed 17 errors at shortstop in 54 games, but no errors playing second in 17 games.

Also in Omaha is Johnny Giavotella. The organization hates his defense and I don't believe that is an understatement. In limited time in the majors, Johnny has certainly done little to change their mind. That said, having watched Esteban German wander the field with a glove in his hand and seen Alberto Callaspo (not to mention the Yunigma) pretty much show one-step range at second, one has to wonder why the organization is so completely fearful of giving Giavotella time at second. Perhaps he really is horror-show bad.

Still, this is a guy who has put the following lines in his last three seasons (counting 2012) in the minors:

.322/.395/.460 in AA

.338/.390/.481 in AAA

.331/.414/.491 in AAA

Giavotella has not come close to replicating those numbers in the majors. Over 260 plate appearances, Johnny has a putrid .239/.269/.344 line and, after walking as much as he strikes out in the minors, has walked just 10 times and struck out 44. There is reason to be skeptical of Giavotella, but there are plenty of reasons to give him a chunk of regular playing time in the majors to actually find out.

Other in-house options would be the utility duo of Irving Falu and Tony Abreu. I kind of like both of them, but in a utility role and likely not as an everyday second baseman. That said, if one is not going to give up on Giavotella after 260 at-bats, it is probably not fair to discount Falu and Abreu, either.

Truthfully, the Royals have options at second: not necessarily good options, but not horrific options, either. However, in typical Royal fashion, the organization has wasted time with Yuniesky Betancourt (a known quantity) and Chris Getz (a better option, but basically a 'he is who he is' guy) in a season in which they publicly stated they probably would not contend when they could have had a very good idea of what Giavotella or Falu or Abreu had to offer as a regular.