Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mike Aviles Optioned to AAA

Coming back from reconstructive elbow surgery, the Royals have been hesitant to use Mike Aviles at shortstop in an effort to avoid putting too much stress on his arm, and on Saturday optioned him to AAA Omaha to get regular playing time.

Aviles was a late bloomer as he didn't show much potential at the plate until posting a 1.001 OPS at AAA as a 27 year old repeating his third season at the level in 2008. That performance earned him a mid-season call up and he continued to hit well, posting a .833 OPS in 441 Major League at-bats. Aviles also flashed well above average with the glove during his Major League stint according to UZR.

He got off to a rough start in 2009, finally admitting to the Royals staff that he had a "sore forearm," that later required the reconstructive surgery. So he gets a pass for the poor performance at that level. But it also means that he hasn't performed at the Major League levl in over a year and it's apparent that he wont be ready to do so at his primary position, shortstop, for some time.

Currently, the Royals are going with Yuniesky Betancourt as their everyday shortstop. Betancourt was acquired from the Mariners last season in the wake of the Aviles injury. He has performed precisely as he did in his time with Seattle - as a mediocre to below average defender with one of the worst every day bats in baseball. In 2009, Betancourt posted a -2.2 WAR, putting him firmly in the race for the coveted title of, "worst every day player in baseball." Thus far, 2010 has been more of the same, with Betancourt post an OPS of just .644.

When healthy, Aviles has shown the ability to be well above average on both sides of the diamond. The Royals desperately need for Aviles to be able to return to being the player he was back in 2008. His bat would greatly upgrade their production at a position of need. His glove would also help prevent dozens of hits from getting through, helping the entire rotation.

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