Alex Gordon needs to be playing every day, especially for a team like the Royals. After skipping AAA entirely, Gordon was worth 2.1 and 2.3 wins his first two seasons in the majors. Last year was entirely lost due to injury, but now Gordon finds himself right where he needs to be: starting each game and hitting near the heart of the lineup.
The catch, of course, is that this is happening in AAA. After logging just 38 plate appearances on the young season, the Royals have sent Gordon to Omaha, preferring to stick with Chris Getz and second and Alberto Callaspo at third. I could run through a series of blistering indictments of the Royals organization here, but, you know what? It’s been done. Several hundred times before and about a dozen or so pertaining to Gordon’s situation today. As Rany Jazayerli hasn’t yet weighed in on the matter, I’ll leave the official depantsing to Joe Posnanski.
If you put Getz at second, you have to move Alberto Callaspo to third, that way you can keep Scott Podsednik in left, and Rick Ankiel in center when he gets healthy, and Jose Guillen at DH … see, the Royals have no choice! This isn’t just rearranging furniture on the Titanic. It’s rearranging furniture on the Titanic to make room for the wagon wheel coffee table.
Of course, they are giving up on Gordon. When you send him to the minor leagues after only 12 games, it doesn’t matter what you say. You are giving up. Yes, Gordon might hit his way back up and force the Royals hand.
Probably not, though. It’s more likely that Gordon is discouraged. It’s more likely that as Getz proves he can’t hit, and Yuni’s on-base percentage plummets, and the Royals continue to believe it just isn’t worth the pain to put Callaspo back at second base, they will at some point bring Gordon back, but without expectation and without a position, and it won’t work, and this will be proof to those who need proof that Gordon is a bust. Then Gordon will end up with another team, and if he’s still young enough and that team gives Gordon a real chance and appreciates his strengths, then I suspect he will blossom. And everyone will talk about that old “change of scenery” thing. And the Royals will once again wonder why good things always seem to happen to other teams.
I’d even call Joe optimistic here. At some point, the Royals will have fully ruined Alex Gordon, and that point draws nearer with each catastrophe of a roster move. A team in the Royals’ position needs to be developing the players that have a chance to contribute to a winning team down the line, eschewing just about every win-now consideration in the mean time. Keeping Chris Getz in the everyday roster is a poor justification for not having Alex Gordon in the lineup at the major league level.
Of course, this being the Royals, a bad decision couldn’t possibly have ill effects on just one player. Replacing Gordon on the major league roster is Mike Aviles, who, you might recall, was sent to the minors so he could play every day while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Now, instead of building up his arm strength and getting back into the rhythm of the game, Aviles will man the bench as Getz and Callaspo get the lion’s share of playing time.
As I write this, I am seeing several reports that the Royals will try Gordon in left field and at first base in Omaha. Rob Neyer astutely tweets that this is “[m]ore evidence they’ve given up on him.” Congratulations, Alex: you are now officially a Kansas City Royal. If the position change sticks, Gordon will be a LF/1B who hits like a third baseman. He’ll fit right in with David DeJesus, a right fielder who hits like a center fielder, and Jason Kendall, a catcher who hits like a pitcher. Jose Guillen (DH/RF) and Yuni Betancourt (SS/P) are on temporary leave, but they’ll rejoin the club soon, too.
The hard part about being a Royals fan isn’t that days like this happen. It’s that they happen all the freaking time. If the Royals aren’t conjuring up new ways to mess with Alex Gordon, they’re trading away a guy who could probably step into the bullpen now. If they’re not trading away Carlos Rosa, they’re sacrificing their second-best pitcher at the altar of the almighty Save. If they’re not burying Soria, they’re doing everything in their power to ensure the club’s best player since George Brett–if not ever–is a virtual lock to bolt as soon as possible. It’s getting harder and harder to stay on board with an organization that, simply put, does not understand how to value baseball players. And, at this point, I wouldn’t blame a soul for checking out until the Dayton Moore era comes to a conclusion.