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Royals have a new manager, but same problems

May 17, 2010, 2:44 PM EDT

After predictably not playing him for two weeks, the Royals sent Kila Ka’aihue back to Triple-A yesterday. His final tally? One start and four at-bats in 11 games. Here’s what new manager Ned Yost said about the demotion:

It just kills me to see Kila sitting on the bench and not playing. I think he’s a huge part of our future, and for me I’d much rather have him down there right now, getting his at-bats, playing first base and if something happened he could come back here.

Ka’aihue is already 26 years old and has spent nine seasons in the minors, including the past three at Triple-A, so if he’s truly “a huge part of our future” the Royals should be playing him right now. Instead they’re a 14-24 team giving everyday playing time to 34-year-old Jose Guillen, which makes Yost’s whole “it just kills me to see him sitting on the bench” statement seem fairly absurd.
If it really kills Yost to see Ka’aihue sitting on the bench, then play him. Simple as that. I realize the Royals probably have some fantasy about cashing in Guillen for big value at the trading deadline, but that’s just not going to happen. He’s a 34-year-old designated hitter with a mediocre .255/.310/.479 line, including .220/.277/.349 in 29 games since his early homer binge, and hasn’t topped an .800 OPS since 2007.
If they can dump him for a mid-level prospect or some salary relief, do it. If not, cut him and give Ka’aihue five starts per week to find out whether he might actually be part of the next competitive Royals team. Sending him back to Triple-A for a third tour of duty at age 26 while a 34-year-old DH with a rapidly declining .786 OPS plays every day is just not something that makes sense for a team that has no shot of even finishing .500.
Stuff like this is why firing Trey Hillman and promoting Yost likely won’t even make a dent in the Royals’ problems. They’re rotten to the core.

  1. rbt - May 17, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    No major league club would do it differently; it’s not just the Royals. Every club has at one time or another kept somebody old and overpaid on their roster as long as he’s mildly producing and kept them there at the expense of a youngster.

  2. ACM - May 17, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    I think the trouble with the Royals is that this isn’t a one time thing- it’s an ongoing, and repeated issue.

  3. Jeff - May 17, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    Is it me or is Aaron Gleeman completely obsessed with Kila Ka’aihue? 3 posts since May 5th on the same topic…the Royals are idiots for not giving Kila Ka’aihue a chance.
    While I agree that he should absolutely be getting AB’s in the bigs, is this story really big enough to justify the weekly updates and outrage? I say this as a huge fan of the blog…I just think it’s sort of funny. Do we really think people (especially outside of KC) care about the Royals treatment of a scarcely known 26 year old AAA star?

  4. Koppe - May 17, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    They are playing Guillen in the hopes he starts hitting and they can deal him or atleast get some compensation when he goes elsewhere in Free Agency.
    It sucks for Ka’aihue but he isnt a difference maker anyways.

  5. Grant - May 17, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Yeah, but what Gleeman is saying is that Guillen clearly won’t start hitting, because he can’t hit and hasn’t been able to for three years. So this is a fool’s errand.

  6. scatterbrian - May 17, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    There are probably a few exceptions, but I think you’re probably right for the most part. While it may kill Yost to see young talent sitting on the bench, it kills the front office more to see expensive players sitting on the bench.

  7. ctm - May 17, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    Well, there’s absolutely zero chance that they offer him arbitration, so I doubt they’re considering FA compensation. I’m not even sure if a monster second half would even bump him into Type B status.

  8. Joey B - May 17, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    Yup, while I’d definitely want to start looking at Kia, let’s not pretend that a 26 y.o. minor leaguer with a career .261, modest power, and a below average 1B, is a huge part of anyone’s future. I’d play him because he is minimum wage, and hope I got lucky and he hit .275 with 18 HRs and 90 walks. That’s a nice asset for a small market team, but that’s about it.

  9. Ron - May 17, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    Yeah, lets here more about Derek Jeter and David Ortiz. Because baseball does’t exist outside the east coast.

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