If I were to tell you that the Royals personnel decisions baffle me, I'd only joining the chorus of tens of thousands of disgruntled Kansas City fans. Well, I'm joining. Officially.
Earlier this year I suggested that the Royals had a potentially solid infield once they got all their players healthy, suggesting that a lineup of Billy Butler at first, Alberto Callaspo at second, Mike Aviles at short, and Alex Gordon at third was potentially quite strong offensively.
The Royals brass obviously doesn't see it that way. While it was initially reported that Gordon would be benched once second baseman Chris Getz returned from his DL trip, there was also speculation that he could be sent to the minors outright.
That's precisely what has happened.
One one hand I suppose it's good that if Gordon isn't going to be utilized on a regular basis, he can at least get consistent at-bats. But is it the best overall decision? I certainly don't think so. With that said, lets not fool ourselves into believing that Gordon is something that he is not. He has a career .744 OPS, huge strikeout rates, and both UZR and the +/- system rank him as below average at third base.
That's a bad combination.
But what does sending him down do? He isn't going to learn anything new at AAA. He isn't going to learn to adjust to Major League breaking balls, that's for sure. What's more, it probably isn't in the Royals best interests right now, or in the future. It isn't in their best interests because it leaves one of the few players with any discernible upside in the minor leagues. It isn't in their best interest because it lowers his already marginal trade value.
Furthermore, bringing up Aviles, who they sent down less than a month ago because he didn't have the arm-strength to sit on the bench in Gordon's stead is equally baffling. Both of these players need at-bats, and while Aviles who is recovering from injury would be better suited to get those innings in the minors, he'll sit on the bench in the Majors. Gordon, who has nothing left to prove but needs to continue to adjust to Major League play, will sit in the minors.
The Royals now apparently plan on switching Gordon off of third base entirely and teaching him to play left field and first base. With top prospect Mike Moustakas at third base long-term, and Butler, along with prospect Kila Ka'aihue, at first, one would presume that left field will be where he spends most of his time.
Given that they're moving him off the hot corner, and given the absences they'll have in left field and at designated hitter after Scott Podsednik and Jose Guillen depart after this season, it certain appears that this is more of a move to find a way to make Gordon fit better into their long-term plans.