Despite our reputation for being critical spirits, we are willing to give credit where credit is due. Last week we were willing to admit we were wrong to be down on the Royals signing Kendrys Morales as the replacement for Billy Butler. Of course, we are certainly willing to give criticism where criticism is due as well. While it is still early, it is looking like the decision to sign Alex Rios as the answer in right field appears to be a big bust so far.
Alex got off to a terrific start in the first week of the season, homering on Opening Day, and hitting .321/.345/.464 over the first week. Then he was plunked by a pitch in Minnesota, breaking his pinky finger and shelving him for six weeks. Since returning, he has hit just 4-for-38, with a line of .105/.150/.132. Overall, his fWAR is -0.4 in 18 games, compared to 0.5 for Paulo Orlando and 0.4 for Jarrod Dyson.
His poor offense is probably attributable to the pinky injury continuing to affect him, so there is still hope that perhaps once healed (bone density issues aside), Rios will begin to hit again. The projection models were mixed on Rios to begin the year, but even they did not anticipate him hitting just .197/.232/.273 by this point in the season. Rios will likely bounce back closer to his numbers last year, although the more he plays without fully recovering, the more his pinky injury may continue to linger.
However one area where the pinky injury should not be a factor is on defense. It is not enough that Rios has been a zero at the plate so far (much of the lineup has been since May began), but he has become a liability in the field as well. His limited range cost the Royals a triple and a run on Friday night, and he misplayed a single into a double on Saturday. It is not just his ability that is frustrating to watch, it is seemingly lackadaisical play that adds fuel to the fire.
Back in our first podcast, when we discussed the off-season moves, I said of Alex Rios:
"My prediction is by mid-summer, this will be a guy that both the stat guys and the mainstream fans can both unite on. I don't think he's going to be a fan favorite at all....He's going to be a guy that doesn't look good with your eyes and doesn't look good with the stat sheet."
If Rios is hurt, he needs to go on the disabled list and get healthy. If he is healthy, he needs to start hitting. If he doesn't, the Royals should cut their ties before too long and go with an option that can either hit or play defense, because Rios right now is doing neither.