Tag: Mike Aviles

Mike Aviles to Tigers: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Following a three-year stint with the Cleveland Indians, Mike Aviles is headed to the Detroit Tigers on a one-year deal, the team announced.

ESPN’s Buster Olney initially reported the deal.

The team has not disclosed the financial terms.

As his .231/.282/.317 slash line during the 2015 season indicated, Aviles doesn’t have much upside to offer at the plate. Soon to be 35 years old, Aviles hasn’t batted .250 in either of the last two seasons. 

However, he wields plenty of versatility. A utility man in the truest sense of the word, Aviles played six positions in the field and served as a designated hitter last season. According to Baseball-Reference.com, he logged playing time at all three outfield spots, second base, third base and shortstop.

Cleveland used him mostly in left field, at the hot corner and at shortstop, where he played 227.2, 194.0 and 172.0 innings last year, respectively. 

Prior to his three-year stay with the Indians, Aviles spent four years with the Kansas City Royals and a productive season-and-a-half with the Boston Red Sox

A year removed from a last-place finish in the American League Central, the Tigers can’t be faulted for making a move to improve their depth.

With that said, the signing will likely have ramifications when it comes to the team’s spending—or lack thereofin the days ahead. 

“The reported agreement all but closes the door on a reunion with outfielder Yoenis Cespedes or the courtship of fellow big-name free-agent outfielder Alex Gordon, which seemed to be a possibility should their markets slip this winter,” the Detroit Free PressAnthony Fenech noted. 

Aviles is unlikely to produce staggering numbers, but he’s a low-risk, high-reward signing at this stage in his career who can offer stability at several spots as the Tigers seek to claw back into the playoffs. 

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Jose Reyes Ankle Injury: 3 Possible Replacements If Injury Is Long-Term

The Toronto Blue Jays’ hopes for a postseason run in 2013 appeared to take a major hit Friday night when shortstop Jose Reyes left the game with an apparently serious ankle injury. As team officials wait to find out the extent of his situation, they should start considering possible replacements if it turns out to be a long-term absence.

MLB.com’s video showed that Reyes hurt his ankle while attempting a stolen base and sliding into second in the sixth inning of a game against the Kansas City Royals:

MLB Network analyst Dan Plesac indicated in a tweet his belief that the injury was serious:

Losing Reyes for any length of time would be a huge blow to Toronto. Despite the team’s 4-6 start, he had led the team with a .395 batting average and an American League-leading five stolen bases.

While the Blue Jays wait to find out about Reyes, who was a centerpiece acquisition this past offseason, they must start looking ahead in the event of a lengthy absence.

Click through to see three possible replacements for Reyes if he is forced to miss extensive time this season.

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Bobby Valentine’s Bad Batting Order Complicates Red Sox vs. Rangers

Don’t let the hyperbolic headline distract you: the Red Sox just have to get through these two days before breaking through to a good part of the schedule. In the long run, things like today’s order doesn’t matter very much. But in the short term, specifically this short series against the Rangers, detail work can make quite a difference.

The Red Sox went a long way towards righting their listing ship by taking three out of four games from the Rays over the weekend, even if the final, Valentine-designed loss rankled. They now face an even harder test with a quick two-game series at home against the two-time defending pennant winners.

The Rangers are 8-2, but the schedule gods have been kind to them, with series against the White Sox, Mariners, and Twins.

Now they have their first real test of the season, with consecutive series against the Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees, and Rays. If the Rangers are still winning four out of five games at that point, wake the masses because something truly special is going on.

Chances are it won’t happen, but it’s worth noting that the Rangers have a very strong rotation, one in which the heralded Yu Darvish may be the weakest link. It got lost amidst Derek Holland’s strong postseason pitching, but Matt Harrison also had a breakthrough year last year.

Neftali Feliz’s move from the bullpen could save a ton of runs in the long run—180 good innings is more valuable than 60 (sorry closer fanatics). Colby Lewis looks well set to spend another season as a mid-rotation innings-eater.

The bullpen is a bit more of a problem because Joe Nathan has been inconsistent, but his 6.00 ERA is distorted by his bad outing against the Mariners on April 11; remove that and he’s allowed one run in five innings.

The overall unit is deep enough that they can survive a post-peak Nathan if they have to. The point being that this stretch of difficult games will see the Rangers pick up a few more losses than they have to date, but it’s not going to reveal any heretofore unsuspected weaknesses.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, remain a mess. Here is tonight’s lineup against Lewis:

SS Mike Aviles
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Adrian Gonzalez
DH David Ortiz
3B Kevin Youkilis
RF Ryan Sweeney
LF Cody Ross
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
CF Jason Repko

Yeah, Jason Repko is playing for Jacoby Ellsbury. That’s Repko, the career .225/.296/.348 hitter. Put that together with Aviles, of the .317 career on-base percentage in the leadoff spot, and you have the perfect cycle of death for the Boston offense.

You could lead off Sweeney, you could even lead off Youkilis and his career .390 OBP. You could do almost anything better than putting your worst on-base guys back-to-back in the batting order.

Look, this is a small thing; one bad batting order won’t make or break a season, and the fluctuations between the best and worst orders are pretty small most of the time.

It’s just another example of Sox management taking a bad situation and making it worse. They don’t have the depth to replace Ellsbury, that’s to be expected. MVP candidates don’t grow on trees. Still, you don’t have to use that as an excuse to highlight your weaknesses.

The Sox follow the Rangers with three games at home against the Yankees, but then they are given series against the Twins, White Sox, A’s, Orioles, Royals, Indians and Mariners. There are a lot of winnable games in there, and just as the Rangers look like world-beaters now, the Red Sox are going to look better when they’re done with those 20 or so games.

In that sense, what happens in these two games doesn’t matter much. The Red Sox are going to get better whether they like it or not, whether Valentine writes good batting orders or pushes Daniel Bard to 150 pitches and 12 walks a game. It would just be easier if he didn’t.

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MLB Trade Deadline Grades: Boston Red Sox Add Royals Infielder Mike Aviles

The Boston Red Sox have traded infielder Yamaico Navarro and pitching prospect Kendal Volz for Kansas City infielder Mike Aviles.

On the surface, it’s a bit of an odd move, as Aviles is going through a difficult 2011.  His slash line of .222/.261/.395 is brutal to look at, and the Royals only recently recalled him from AAA after his poor performance earned him an option to the minors.

Boston must like his versatility. Aviles can play third base or either of the middle positions, though his 2011 UZR is minus-0.8 according to Fangraphs.  

Aviles’ best year came in 2008 when he posted and .834 OPS in 102 games with Kansas City.  He also managed an 11.1 UZR that season at shortstop.  

Since then, however, his development has stalled.  His career path makes the trade a little surprising. It’s unclear what the team sees in Aviles that makes him preferable to Boston’s existing options.

One of those was Navarro, who now heads to K.C.  The Red Sox are content to give up on the 23-year-old utility man, who hasn’t progressed as the organization had hoped.  Through 16 big league games in 2011, he posted a .626 OPS.  

His numbers at AAA Pawtucket were somewhat more respectable (.831 through 34 games), but the Sox obviously didn’t see him contributing in the near future.

The right-handed Volz compiled a 3.33 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in 51.1 innings with High A Salem this year.  Despite those nice numbers, he’s not on the organization’s top 20 prospects.

Still, it seems like Boston just gave up a fair amount of potential for very little return.  Other than providing depth at multiple spots, Aviles adds little to the team.  

Were he an excellent defender, the swap might have made more sense, but this has the distinct feeling of a throwaway trade.

If the Sox are banking on a recurrence of vintage 2008 Aviles, they’d better be prepared for disappointment.  And to send a pair of 23-year-olds packing seems rather rash given the team’s needs.

The obvious but limited upside is his ability to man shortstop, a perennial sore spot in Boston.

At best this trade is a C, and that’s only if Aviles improves on his first-half struggles. 

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Kansas City Royals: Reviewing the Texas Rangers Series

After a thrilling series with the Cleveland Indians, the Kansas City Royals traveled to Arlington to take on the Texas Rangers in a three-game series. This is the beginning of a six-game road trip that will end in Cleveland next week.

Game 1 has Jeff Francis on the mound for the boys in blue taking on Derek Holland for the Rangers.

This is just one of the games that Royals fans would like to forget. At least the Royals didn’t cave after being dug into a five-run hole. They fought back but were unfortunately bested by the power hitters of the Texas Rangers, who pounded out five home runs in the game.

This was Francis’ worst game of the season by far, giving up nine hits and five earned runs in four innings. He picked up the loss, making his record for the season 0-2.

It was nice to see Brayan Pena behind the plate again and showing off some power with a three-run home run in the fourth inning to tie the game up.

The Royals were simply over powered in Game 1, and they needed to find a way to shut down the Rangers’ bats in the second game.

Well, they did that. The Royals only allowed three runs scored, all earned from Kyle Davies (1-2), who pitched six innings and gave up four hits. Tim Collins and Louis Coleman combined for two innings of scoreless work.

In the spirit of Easter, Kila Ka’aihue performed a miracle of his own, actually hitting the ball. His solo home run shot put the Royals on the scoreboard in the seventh inning, but it was all the Royals would get. Squandered opportunities in the late innings kept the Royals from mounting a comeback, which led to Texas picking up the win 3-1.

This loss clinched the Royals first series loss of the season. The good thing is that the Royals were the last team to lose a series, which is definitely a difference than previous seasons. Alex Gordon also advanced his hitting streak to 17 games with a single first inning.

Looking to avoid a sweep, the Royals sent out their stellar lefty, Bruce Chen, to take on C.J Wilson in the Easter Sunday matchup.

Unfortunately, not even the unbeaten Chen could quiet the Rangers’ bats as the Royals fell 8-7 as Texas completed the three game sweep.

Chen gave up six runs on seven hits in four-and-a-third innings pitched. He only struck out two batters. Jeffress, Wood, Collins and Crow combined for the other three-and-two-third innings, with Jeffress giving up the other two runs.

The Royals made it interesting at least. Down 8-4 in the top of the ninth with two outs and two on, Mike Aviles blasted his second home run of the game, third of the season to pull the Royals to within one. Unfortunately, after drawing a full count, Melky Cabrera grounded out weakly to the shortstop to end the game.

In positive news, Alex Gordon extended his hitting streak to 18 games, which is now tied for tenth best in Royals history.  The record is George Brett’s 30-game hitting streak, achieved back in 1980.

The Royals, now 12-10, are still only 1.5 games back of Cleveland, thanks to some excellent play from Minnesota.  Detroit, however, has caught up and now ties the Royals for second place with a 12-10 record of their own.

The Royals will travel to first place Cleveland for a three-game series with the Indians, starting on Tuesday. Hopefully, the Royals will take advantage of the off day to rid their minds of the sweep and get mentally prepared to take over first place.

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2011 MLB Pre-Season Preview: AL Central – Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals (2010 record: 67-95)

Kansas City is one more year away from beginning their slow, inexorable climb up the standings. While Royals fans have heard similar promises for years, their patience is finally (mercifully) about to pay off. GM Dayton Moore and his front office staff have developed a farm system that is rated tops in the game – stocked with prospects who are expected to make a significant impact in the major leagues within the next two or three years. They will start to feed those prospects to the parent club in full force this year.

In anticipation of the impending influx of talent from the minors, Moore & Company have stocked the club’s roster with journeymen and retreads… guys who are little more than place-holders until the minor leaguers arrive, and who will be expendable at that point in time. The roster is due for a substantial overhaul in the next two seasons, with Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Will Myers and several pitchers (notably Jeremy Jeffress, John Lamb, Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi) due to join the major league club.

The Royals are on the brink of credibility, KC fans, but you’ll have to endure one more year of struggles before hitting paydirt.

Notable additions: OF Melky Cabrera, OF Lorenzo Cain, SS Alcides Escobar, 3B Pedro Feliz, LHP Jeff Francis, OF Jeff Francoeur, RHP Jeremy Jeffress

Notable subtractions: SP Brian Bannister, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, OF David DeJesus, RHP Zack Greinke


The offense

Catcher: Brayan Pena

Infield: Kila Ka’aihue (1B), Chris Getz (2B), Alcides Escobar (SS) and Mike Aviles (3B)

Outfield: Alex Gordon (LF), Melky Cabrera (CF) and Jeff Francoeur (RF)

Designated Hitter: Billy Butler

Butler is the undisputed leader of the offense – at just 24 years of age – which both speaks highly of him and underscores the plight of an otherwise punch-less offense. He is one of better hitters in the game, yet doesn’t qualify as a true power hitter. Last year, he set career highs in BA, OBP and OPS, yet he was still perceived as having underachieved due to the fact he hit only 15 home runs.

Once upon a time, Alex Gordon was thought to be the future of the Royals franchise. He was named the College Player of the Year in 2005 and Minor League Player of the Year in 2006, but somewhere between Omaha and Kansas City his power was short-circuited. He was moved from third base to left field last year, but he has failed to demonstrate the productive capacity needed from a corner outfielder. He could be on his way out of KC before long.

Similarly, Francoeur was once considered the future of the Atlanta Braves franchise. He was the organization’s top prospect in 2004 and thought to have a tremendous career on the horizon… but his overall production hasn’t matched his potential. He hit 29 HR in his first full season in the big leagues (’06) and won a Gold Glove the following year, but his career has been on a downward spiral since. He was shipped to the NY Mets in 2009 and then traded to the Texas Rangers in August of last year. It seems unlikely his career will suddenly revive itself in Kansas City.

Melky Cabrera enjoyed a career year in the New Yankee Stadium softball field back in 2009, taking advantage of its cozy dimensions to post a respectable OPS. But after being cast out of the Bronx, he has regressed to a rather poor skill set. He will begin the 2011 season as the starter in center field, but it is likely Lorenzo Cain will take over by June 1st – at the latest.

Around the infield, four younger ballplayers will vie to have substantial roles with the team once the top minor league prospects start arriving. Ka’aihue will undoubtedly be displaced by Eric Hosmer at first base, but it’s possible he’ll provide more power than Butler – forcing the front office to make a hard decision between the two. Mike Aviles will start the year at third base, but he will soon be moved off the hot corner by Mike Moustakas no later than mid-season. He and Chris Getz will spend April, May and June trying to lay claim to the second base job after Moose’s arrival.

Alcides Escobar was acquired in the same deal that sent Zack Greinke to Milwaukee. He was long on glove and short on bat last year as a rookie. His minor league stats suggest he will be a productive shortstop in the major leagues… with the departure of Yuniesky Betancourt, the job is his for the immediate future.

Brayan Pena will hold down the primary responsibilities behind the plate until veteran Jason Kendall returns from shoulder surgery in mid-to-late-May. Pena should produce nicely with the increased playing time he will receive while Kendall recovers.


The pitching staff

Rotation: RHP Luke Hochevar, LHP Jeff Francis, LHP Bruce Chen, RHP Kyle Davies and RHP Vin Mazzaro

Closer: RHP Joakim Soria

The staff won’t be especially good in 2011, but with the arrivals of Lamb, Montgomery and Odorizzi (Milwaukee’s stop prospect prior to the Greinke deal) the rotation is on the verge of becoming formidible.

With the trade of Greinke, Hochevar will assume the role of staff ace – at least until the young guns make their way to KC. The big right-hander has been a BIG disappointment since being selected with the No. 1 overall pick in 2006, but his skill set shows marginal growth – so there is some hope he could develop into a consistent performer at the back of the rotation. That said, his strand rate continues at well below-average – a factor that now seems to be a chronic condition, not just bad luck.

Francis won 17 games for Colorado when the Rockies went to the World Series in 2001, but he has battled an assortment of injuries over the last three years. He has been pretty good when he has been healthy – compiling a nice strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.5 and an improving ground ball rate (47%).

Mazzaro could become the second-best performer on this staff pending the arrival of the young guns. His fate in 2011 and beyond will be determined by how he transitions from the relatively spacious playing field of Oakland Coliseum to the smaller area of Kaufman Stadium. He has a friendly ground ball to fly ball ratio – so the ballpark factor shouldn’t exert a dramatic impact on his performance (unless he has the same kind of bad luck he had last year, when his home run rate (HR/fb) was 12%).

Chen led the ballclub by recording 12 wins last year, but his peripherals clearly disclose he was the beneficiary of good luck as opposed to the owner of an outstanding skill set. His K-BB ratio is less than 2.0 – my minimum standard for an effective starting pitcher and well-below my desired threshold of 2.5. He walks too many batter (3.5 / 9 IP) and surrenders far too many fly balls for a pitcher who issues so many bases on balls.

Davies is a right-handed version of Chen. He has a substandard K-BB ratio, largely due to the fact he walks too many hitters. While his ground ball to fly ball ratio is friendlier, he tends to allow a higher than league-average home run rate – a fact which can be very dangerous for a pitcher who issues four walks for every nine innings pitched.

Soria recorded 43 saves in 46 save opportunities last year and has cemented himself as one of the premier closers in the game. He regularly posts a K-BB ratio in excess of 9.0 and benefited from better control in 2010 (2.2 BB / 9 IP) than he had previously in his career. He will almost certainly produce another 40+ save season, with an ERA around 2.00 and a WHIP in the neighborhood of 1.00 – 1.10. Behind Soria, the bullpen has been brutal for the last several years, but that could change in 2011. He could have improved support as the Royals have some young power arms on the verge of breaking through at the big league level. RHP Jeremy Jeffress, acquired in the Greinke deal, may be the heir apparent to Soria as closer. Lefty Tim Collins is a fire-baller who has been compared to Billy Wagner. Otherwise, RHP Robinson Tejeda is the best of a marginal collection of veteran relievers.


Prediction for 2011: Fourth place (75-87)

The Royals will be better this year and should improve as the progresses as some of the prospects make their way to the parent club. By mid-season, Moustakas will be playing third base and Hosmer c-o-u-l-d be stationed at first base – though his promotion that early is less certain due to the presence of hard-hitting Ka’aihue in the Royals lineup. In the second half of the season, pitching prospects like Lamb and Montgomery (and even Danny Duffy) could force their way onto a pitching staff that will be devoid of stars.


Top Five Prospects

1. Mike Moustakas, 3B
2. Wil Myers, C/LF
3. Eric Hosmer, 1B
4. Mike Montgomery, RHP
5. John Lamb, LHP

Depending on which publication you read, the top three on this list are interchangeable, but my preference is Moustakas. Myers is still a ways away from The Show and has to endure a position switch to the outfield, while Hosmer may be blocked by Ka’aihue for the next year or two. Meanwhile, Moustakas’ road to Kansas City is clear, and while the organization appears committed to giving him another couple of months in Triple-A, he will be in the big leagues by the all-star break. He was the Royals first-round pick (No. 2 overall) in the 2007 draft. He was outstanding in his first full year of professional ball in 2008, but struggled quite a bit the following year after making the jump to High-A. Any worries about his potential were cast aside last year as he bludgeoned Double-A pitchers to the tune of .347/.413/.687 and then barely missed a beat after his promotion to Triple-A Omaha, posting an impressive .293/.314/564 line in 52 games.

He has become more selective at the plate, allowing himself to consistently work better pitch counts where he can exert his plus-power on the baseball. He generates exceptional bat speed and can hit the ball out of the park to any field. Defensively, he continues to be a work in progress, as his footwork and mechanics are erratic, but he has good hands and a strong arm… his deficiencies are nothing that a lot of hard work can’t correct. He will prove to be everything Alex Gordon wasn’t – he is the Royals 3B-of-the-future.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball: How Mike Aviles Will Help the Kansas City Royals, and You

Last week ,we went over Logan Morrison (here).

This week, we take a look at Mike Aviles of the Kansas City Royals.

Aviles burst onto the scene in 2008 as a 27 year old, spending most of his time at SS for the Royals. In his 419 partial season at-bats, he hit .325/68/10/51/8 and was tagged as a potential breakout player for the 2009 season.

Unfortunately, 2009 saw Aviles undergo Tommy John surgery after just 36 games.

He entered 2010 as a question mark, but picked right back up where he left off in May of ’09, going .304/63/8/32/14 in 424 at-bats.

Without a poor June, he had a .323 average, which was similar to what he did over the course of 2008.

Even after missing a year, Aviles was pretty much the same player he was before the injury. Of course, he stole six more bases but knocked in 19 fewer runs.

This being the “September Stars” Series, let’s now examine what Mike Aviles did last September to warrant his selection this week.

In 24 games, Aviles went .357/20/6/14/6 to top off one of his best months statistically as a pro. In that time, he spent most of his time in the two-hole and benefited from no one being on base in front of him so he could begin to rack up the steals. 

That explains his increase in runs and steals, but what about the power surge?

Aviles’ fly-ball percentage actually dipped in that time, so the remedy? The Cleveland Indians’ pitching.

They served up four of his six homers that month (Oakland gave up the other two and not one of the six pitchers was a Cy Young hopeful).

When looking at his GB/FB/LD ratios over that final month, he had a spike in the number of line drives he hit, which was more in line with his 2008 season, when he hit 27 doubles compared to the 16 he had all of last year. Of those 16 doubles, five of them came in September.

When you extrapolate that September, his doubles were much in line with his 2008 season.

As the season wound down, Aviles’ GB/FB/LD percentages began to even out to his 2008 percentages. What does this mean for 2011?

In my opinion, Aviles will put up similar doubles numbers, but his power will not extrapolate at six a month to equal 36 for 2011.

This year, he’s slated to lead off, which means his number of steals should continue to climb, as he has shown the ability to run. His walk percentage has increased while his strikeout percentage has decreased, which bodes well for setting the table for the team with the second-best team batting average in all of baseball last year (.274).

His BABIP last year was .327, down from his .357 in 2008, so his batting average has some upside.

If Mike Aviles is eligible at SS in your league, he is a late-round gem. If not, remain patient, as his healing elbow could get him some time at SS this season.

In 2010, he batted .320 with the bases empty and .404 with none on and none out, which he’ll be doing at least once a game this season.

My 2011 Mike Aviles Projection (Ceiling): .325/100/15/50/25.

Those stats would’ve made Aviles the No. 3 SS last season and the No. 4 2B. “That’s gold, Jerry!”

Aviles is currently 10-for-20 this spring with nine runs and four steals.


Our fifth 2011 Nomination coming up: Daniel Hudson.

Previous “September Stars” include Logan Morrison, Ryan Raburn, Drew Stubbs and Jose Bautista.


Mike is a Senior Writer for 4thandHome.com where this, and other work, can be found. Additionally, he is co-host of The 4th and Home Show on Blog Talk Radio.

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MLB Fantasy Baseball Profile: Show Some Love for Mike Aviles

It would be easy to overlook Mike Aviles.

After all, he plays in Kansas City, who are down to two fantasy mainstays (Billy Butler and Joakim Soria) now that Zack Greinke is with the Brewers.

I urge you to show some love for Mike Aviles, and not just because it’s Valentine’s Day.

After having just one April at-bat, Aviles hit .305 or better in four of the next five months en route to a .304 final average. His overall numbers weren’t overly impressive as he posted a .304-63-8-32-14 line in 424 ABs, but they are adequate for a backup second basemen or middle infield position.

The most encouraging aspect is how strong he finished. Aviles came alive in September scoring 20 of his 63 runs and slugging six of his eight homers. He also combined for 11 stolen bases in August and September.

His first-half and second-half splits illustrate how consistent he truly was last year.

Pre-All-Star: 55 games, 210 ABs, .305, 29 runs, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 2 SB, .718 OPS
Post-All-Star: 55 games, 214 ABs, .304, 34 runs, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 12 SB, .777 OPS

While I don’t expect Aviles to continue his September slugging and smash 20 home runs this year, he does have a history of moderate power. He had 10 homers in 419 ABs for the Royals in 2008 and a combined 27 in 752 ABs for Triple-A Ohama in 2007 and 2008.

Aviles is going on average, according to Mock Draft Central, with the 157th pick, which puts him in the 14th round.

He has second base eligibility, could possibly have SS eligibility in your league and potentially 3B eligibility, as he’s the likely starter at the hot corner for the Royals in 2011.

That positional flexibility makes him more attractive.

If you’re looking to round out your bench or add a middle infielder, don’t forget about Mike Aviles.

What are your thoughts on Aviles for 2011?

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Alex Gordon Demoted, Carlos Rosa Traded, Mike Aviles Recalled, Heads Scratched

It’s been a fairly eventful two-plus weeks since I last posted here.  Having not grown up in the Kansas City area (unlike my father, whose fandom I unfortunately inherited), my in-person Royals experiences have been mostly limited to seeing them play the Twins at the Metrodome or seeing Omaha play the Round Rock Express.  While visiting my sister in Lawrence, I got to see the Royals where one is meant to see them: at Kauffman. 

When the lead Brian Bannister held was handed over to the bullpen (along with inherited runners), on that cold Sunday afternoon, I decided to excuse myself from my seat and take in the Royals Hall of Fame.  The Hall was great.  A Mecca for a Royals fan both geographically and temporally displaced from an ideal notion of sports fandom. 

For a few brief moments, I was able to escape to a time in which the Royals competed against, get this, the Yankees, to go to the World Series.  Yeah, that’s right.  The Yankees.  World Series.  Apparently, they even won one.  I know, I know.  “Shut the f*** up, you crazy liar.  The Royals never won a World Series.  They’re like, the worst team in baseball.  They had the worst record in baseball in the ’00s!”

But no.  A long 25 years ago, the Royals actually won a World Series. 

You are no doubt thinking about the illogical manner in which the franchise has been re-run into the ground by yet another regime in the Wal-Mart Royals Era, and wondering to yourself how it is possible that a team that was once a perennial contender could possibly find itself in this place.  A laughingstock.  A team whose fans have to resort to arguing whether or not their team is worse off than the likes of the Astros or *shudder* the Pirates. 

Yet, here we sit, watching helplessly as Alex Gordon is optioned to AAA-Omaha while inept aged veterans constipate the daily lineup—while Carlos Rosa (an arguably Major League-ready relief pitcher) is shipped off to Arizona for an extremely raw shortstop who appears to be nowhere near the Majors meaning the Royals would be required to successfully develop him.

And while Mike Aviles is shuttled back and forth between Kansas City and Omaha, called up this time so that Trey Hillman can have him pinch-run twice a week as Yuniesky Betancourt ranges two-steps to his right or left for grounders at short and swings wildly at balls outside of the zone.

Should I continue?

Regarding the Gordon optioning, I can understand that he has been a disappointment against the unrealistic expectations that he was going to be the next George Brett.  We were all guilty of setting those hopes too high, but the Royals are in no place to be abandoning hope on a 26-year-old third baseman with an above-average ability to get on base even if his defensive skills seem to be on the decline. 

Yes, his strikeouts are often ugly.  His dry-spells can last for weeks.  Still, when healthy, he is one of the Royals best three or four offensive players with the upside for more.  Given this demotion, their aggressive promotion of Gordon in 2007 could conceivably stand as only the second-most egregious move that the organization has made in terms of the detriment done to the development of a player once regarded as the top prospect in all of baseball. 

As for Rosa, Marc Hulet of FanGraphs indicates that Arizona pulled the trigger on this deal because they were desperate for relief pitching.  Hold up a second, the Diamondbacks need relievers?  What a coincidence, the Royals relief corps have been giving up leads like they were getting paid to lose games.  Doesn’t it seem like the Royals could use a relief pitcher?  Now maybe Reynaldo Navarro pans out, but given the track record of this front office, I doubt any Royals fans are holding their breath. 

Now Mike Aviles gets recalled from Omaha, presumably to sit on the bench while the Royals’ $3.3 million gloveless/batless shortstop gets all of the playing time.  Even more aggravating is the fact that this organization seems to believe that Betancourt is actually the best option for them at short. 

Nevermind that they cannot align their outfield properly (Ankiel in right*, Maier in center, DeJesus in left, Podsednik on a different team for those catching up at home), in what world do the Royals exist in which Yuniesky Betancourt is a ML-caliber anything, let alone shortstop?

*Yes, The LOBster has been awful, and really, if they seem dead-set on playing Getz at second, then maybe the Royals should be thinking about working Gordon out at right, thus getting Getz, Callaspo, and Gordon into the lineup and a right-fielder’s arm in right.  If Ankiel is playing, though, it needs to be in right.  

If Aviles weren’t healthy, Betancourt still shouldn’t be playing.  Aviles is healthy, though.  Betancourt has managed one walk in 98 plate appearances.  His O-Swing percentage is 45.7  percent.  His BB/K is an Olivo-ian 0.09.  His UZR/150 is a predictably awful -22.7.  All the talk of small sample sizes could apply here, if these numbers weren’t in line with his past three seasons.  Long story short: Yuniesky Betancourt sucks. 

Does anyone think that logic will set in and Betancourt will be riding the pine this week?

The likes of Jose Guillen, Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel, and Yuniesky Betancourt should not be taking playing time away from players who need playing time at the Major League level to develop.

Oh, and I could ramble on about the inexplicable Juan Cruz release, but what’s the f***ing point? 

Ewing Kauffman’s Royals these are not.

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