When this season began, the Royals seemed to have improved themselves since last season, but also seemed to have a few obvious problems. One, they were relying on Luis Mendoza and Ervin Santana in the starting rotation. That one's half-taken care of itself, as Escobar's been excellent. Two, they seemed committed to Chris Getz at second base. And three, they seemed intent on playing Jeff Francoeur in right field every day, even though he spent the entire 2012 season demonstrating -- granted, with plenty of moxie -- his inability to hit right-handed pitching.
Well those latter two problems seem to have taken care of themselves, too, as both Getz and Francoeur were so terrible in April that manager Ned Yost finally had to do something: Elliott Johnson's been getting the bulk of the playing time at second base, and Francoeur's been starting just against left-handed pitchers, with Jarrod Dyson playing against the northpaws. And miracle of miracles, the slap-hitting Dyson's got as many extra-base hits in 42 plate appearances as Frenchy's got in 128.
So the Royals have turned two weaknesses into strengths, right? With traditional platoons, just like Casey Stengel used to do?
If so, Ned Yost isn't admitting it. Here's the payoff from Bob Dutton's latest:
"Everyone wants to jump on the Frenchy bandwagon," Yost said. "They want to say, ‘OK, he’s platooning.’ I’m not going there. Dyson is swinging the bat well right now, so he’s going to get more playing time.
"It’s like second base right now. Elliot Johnson has played the majority of time in the last week. Is he the everyday second baseman? No. I’m trying to ride a hot player. I go from day-to-day."
The Royals view Johnson as their primary utility player, but he started eight of the last 14 games — largely because second baseman Chris Getz is mired in a four-for-47 slump and batting .193.
Johnson’s response to the increased opportunity is 11 hits in his last 25 at-bats, which has his average up to .302.
"We’re riding Elliot because he’s swinging the bat well now," Yost said. "Getzie is scuffling a little bit, but that all changes (at some point). When Getzie gets hot, we’ll ride him."
This is Sexy Getzi's fourth season with the Royals. Here are his obvious percentages in that span:
When he gets on base, he's pretty good at stealing bases. But in all fairness to Getzie, he's a truly awful major-league hitter. Among players with at least 800 plate appearances over these last four seasons, exactly three have lower OPS's than Getzie's: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins, and Tofu Lou Marson.
Getz's continuing presence on the Royals' roster is one piece of evidence that management doesn't have a clue. Of course, there are other pieces of evidence suggesting management does have a clue. I'm sure that Ned Yost does some things well. But when he starts talking about riding a player who happens to be in the middle of a nice little (small-sample-size-fueled) run, and when he suggests that CHRIS GETZIE IS MERELY SCUFFLING A LITTLE BIT, you do have to wonder if maybe he's better suited to manage in the minor leagues, where actually winning baseball games is subservient to player development.
Granted, maybe Yost is merely trying to spare Getzie's and Frenchy's feelings. But history's not on his side.