Additional Thoughts on Eric Hosmer
There seems to be a split among Kansas City Royals fans about the promotion of Eric Hosmer. Some think it is crazy and short-sighted, others think it is a wise move. Here is my position.
First, some points of clarification.
Point One: I'm a Twins fan, not a Royals fan. I follow the Royals very closely because I live nearby, but I'm not a particular fan of the team. I don't hate them either, but I don't have an emotional concern here. I don't have Hosmer on a fantasy team,
Point Two: I am generally against rushing players, and I think most players benefit from a full year at each level. This is not a hard-and-fast rule that applies to everyone, but I think it is a useful guideline. I would rather be too conservative about promoting a player than too aggressive.
Point Three: As a GM, I think Dayton Moore has done a lot of things right in terms of building the farm system, drafting well, and (most importantly) convincing ownership to actually put money into the team. It's amazing what your scouts can do when you actually have the resources for player development, which was the biggest problem in KC previously. On the negative side, many of Moore's moves on the major league roster haven't worked well, and in my view there seems to be an excessive fetish for ex-Braves in the organization.
Overall, it's a mixed picture, but the organization is certainly in better shape than it was five years ago. I'm neither a basher nor a booster, and am quite willing to see how "the process" works out. Maybe it is just easier for me to take that approach since I'm not emotionally invested, but that's the way I see it.
Point Four: I have been pro-Kila Ka'aihue, possibly because I've been watching the guy play in the minors for many years at the A, AA, and AAA levels. I've seen him at his worst, locked in a long slump, his swing messed up, unable to handle either good fastballs or breaking stuff. I've also seen him at his best, when his swing is working well and he's destroying everything thrown his way. I still think he's capable of hitting enough to be useful in the majors, and that 326 plate appearances spread out over three seasons isn't a true test of his ability, especially given that he often needs adjustment time at new levels. Given enough playing time, I think he would figure thing out well enough to be at least a useful complementary platoon bat.
Point Five: I think promoting Eric Hosmer is the right thing to do for team. The major league team is playing decently. Even if they win just 85 games, that could be enough to contend for the division title this year. There is a morale factor to consider here: the organization itself is tired of losing and the fan base entered the season rather demoralized and impatient.
The front office is well-aware of this factor (Moore made that point to me himself this spring), and even a .500 season would go a long way towards boosting spirits in the city and the front office.
Hosmer, right now, is unlikely to be weaker with the bat than Kila currently is, has a good chance to be better, and is a superior defensive player. If the Royals were in last place and had no chance to compete, then sure, you're screwed anyway, so give Kila another 300 at-bats to see if he can figure things out. But that's not the situation right now. They have a chance to be decent this year, and Hosmer is more likely to help them stay that way than Kila is, as it currently stands.
Point Six: There are two reasons not to promote Hosmer: if you think it would harm his long-term development, and money, and I don't think either of these issues overrides point five.
Hosmer is destroying Triple-A. Everything I'm hearing about his performance indicates that it isn't a fluke, and that the Pacific Coast League doesn't have much left to teach him about hitting. I am generally opposed to rushing players, and I think that most players benefit from a full season at each level. But there are exceptions, and Hosmer looks like one to me. I don't think bringing him to the majors now is a significant risk to his career.
As for the money issue, we don't know if the whole "super-two" service time issue will even be a factor once the new Basic Agreement comes into play. Even if it does, if Hosmer turns out to be as good as expected, you're going to have to pay him the big bucks, anyway. If the team plays well this year, the club's finances will improve anyhow. I am generally very much an advocate of long-term thinking, but if bringing Hosmer up now increases my chance to contend this year, then I'm not going to worry so much about what the team's salary structure is going to look like in 2015.
My basic conclusion is this: given all these factors, balancing the long-term and short-term needs of the organization, and even as a person who is pro-Kila, I would promote Hosmer, too.
I would then turn my attention to
1) Finding someone to replace Kyle Davies, who is just not going to improve. I AM averse to promoting Dan Duffy too quickly, and don't want to see Duffy up before mid-July.
2) Finding some additional outfield depth; Gordon, Cabrera, and Francoeur won't stay hot forever, especially if you keep playing them every single day;
3) Disabuse myself of the notion that Jason Kendall has anything left in the tank, and look for some catching. Luke May and Manuel Pina at Omaha aren't the answer.
4) Drafting Bubba Starling