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What the DeJesus Trade Means for the Offense

Breaking news: David DeJesus has been traded.

Okay, so it’s now old news, but what everybody is on the edge of their seat wondering is what it means for the team in 2011. My initial thought when I sat down and pondered this post for a bit was that the offense would be far worse than it was in 2010. That’s a legitimate concern after DeJesus put up three and a half months worth of a career year. But what you have to remember is that the offense plugged on without him after his injury. It wasn’t always pretty, but that’s a pretty good starting point for what we’re going to see in 2011.

Prior to and including July 22 (the game DeJesus got hurt), the Royals as a team were hitting .282/.336/.403. After the injury, they hit .262/.324/.395. The average dropped a ton, the OBP dropped about a percentage point as did the slugging. A lot of what made up the line prior to DDJ’s injury was Alberto Callaspo, Scott Podsednik and Jose Guillen. In Callaspo and Podsednik, the Royals had some empty batting averages and in Guillen they had a fairly empty slugging percentage, if that is possible.

Starting in September, the team began to click a little offensively and put up a .273/.340/.427 line. That lineup included guys like Kila Ka’aihue, Wilson Betemit, Alex Gordon, Brayan Pena and a healthy Mike Aviles. The Royals were slowly transforming from a singles hitting team to a team that was capable of getting on base a little and getting the extra base hit. Obviously, the presence of David DeJesus on this team would only be a plus, but they seemed to do alright without him.

The Royals have a few options in replacing him in the lineup and in the field. The internal options aren’t terribly inspiring, but they do provide a light for a couple of prospects. The first is David Lough. A comparison between Lough and DeJesus has been made quite a few times over the last couple of years in that he’s pretty good at everything and not great at anything. Lough is probably a little faster than DeJesus, a better base stealer and more suited to play center. He doesn’t have quite as much extra base pop and doesn’t walk as much. I think all things equal, the club would like him to play his way onto the roster.

So let’s look first at what David Lough means for the Royals offense. While I think he’ll ultimately work well in the #2 spot in the batting order, if he makes the Opening Day roster you’ll probably see him lower in the order.  I’m okay with that as it probably means that Aviles will be hitting second, which isn’t his most useful spot, but he’s just fine there. Lough in the bottom of the order gives the Royals some speed at the bottom to help set the table for Aviles, Butler, Ka’aihue and Betemit. The only problem with Lough is that he may need a platoon partner. We’ll get to that in a second.

The second internal option is to let the loser of the CF battle between Jarrod Dyson and Gregor Blanco play right. As is the case with Lough, the defense would be outstanding, but neither one projects well to replace DeJesus’ punch in the order. Blanco is a strong OBP guy, but he doesn’t have a whole lot of pop in the bat and Dyson doesn’t pack much offensive punch, though he does hit enough to keep defenses honest. Plus he can fly. I’d much rather one starts in center while the other is either in AAA starting or playing as the fourth outfielder.

The third option is Mitch Maier. I don’t believe the organization views him as a center fielder on this team would two superior defensive players in Blanco and Dyson, so his only hope now is to hold down the every day job in right field. The thing Maier has going for him over all of them is familiarity in the organization. That and the fact that when he played every day, he was actually pretty decent with the bat. From April 25 to June 10, Maier played just about every day and hit .282/.358/.394. Those numbers are not too terribly far off what could have been expected from DDJ. I like Maier, probably more than most, but I just don’t see the Royals starting him in right field. His only way on the team is pretty much if Blanco wins the CF job in which case, Maier could be the fourth outfielder with Dyson starting in AAA.

The fourth option is a platoon partner for one of these lefties (which will also hurt Maier’s roster chances). Dayton Moore has said that he’s looking for a right-handed outfield bat. In the coincidence of all coincidences, Jeff Francouer is a free agent. I think it’s just a matter of time before the inevitable because reality. I actually wouldn’t mind this trade if Francouer is only played vs. left-handed starters. He’s pretty good against them. My preference is a platoon with Lough while he adjusts to the big leagues to see if the Royals actually have something in him. Many fans will groan if and when the Royals sign Frenchy, but he really can be an asset if used correctly. Plus, he’s pretty good defensively, so you don’t lose much with him out there.

All in all, it’s tough to say that the Royals offense won’t be hurt by the departure of DeJesus, but as the team showed in September, they might actually have a pretty decent attack. More important than whoever replaces DDJ to step up is guys like Gordon and Ka’aihue. It’s their sticks that will make the offense a positive. For a team with very little outfield depth, they’re actually pretty well prepared for the loss of one of their best and most consistent bats.

  1. Patrick
    November 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    If Gordon breaks out, Kila hits like he did in September, Butler takes another step, Aviles hits like he did in September, this offense might not be as embarrassing as it has been.

    Hey, and Yuni might break the Royals SS homerun record!

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