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Second Base Job is Up for Grabs…Sort of

This isn’t exactly news, but it looks like the Royals have decided that the second base job is Chris Getz’s to lose in spring training. It’s kind of an interesting battle because if Chris Getz does not win the second base job he’s more than likely to be replaced by Mike Aviles. Of course, he and Mike Aviles aren’t in direct competition. As things are set up right now, Getz will play second while Mike Aviles will play third. If, however, Getz does not hit enough to keep the second base job, Aviles will play there. So technically, Getz is battling guys like Wilson Betemit and Pedro Feliz. Both have their flaws and neither are the defensive players that Chris Getz is, though I think that the defense of Chris Getz is a bit overrated by the Royals organization.

I think I’ve talked before about how I think there should be one more option for the second base job. I’m not sure if he’s ready, but I’d certainly give Johnny Giavotella the opportunity to win the job for a few reasons. One, I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Chris Getz is not the future at second base for the Royals. Two, Giavotella may be forced off second sometime in the near future by Christian Colon if and when the Royals ever decide to move him from shortstop. And finally, three, he gives the Royals a lot of the attributes that they are going to need to be successful. Offensively, I see Giavotella as sort of a Chuck Knoblauch type player without the stolen base efficiency. He gets on base at a high rate, has some pop in his bat and can run. The difference between him and Knoblauch is that Knoblauch was very good defensively until he inexplicably couldn’t throw anymore.

I have no basis for this, but I feel like Giavotella is the type of player who maybe doesn’t need a ton of seasoning. I also get the feeling that his peak is going to be a little shorter than most players, so the time is now to get the most value out of him. Similarly built player like Marcus Giles stopped being effective second baseman pretty early on in their careers after having some good seasons. Even Knoblauch fell off a cliff pretty quickly, though I think a large part of that was due to his defensive issues messing with his head. Still, 2011 might be the time to find out what the Royals have. Personally, I think he has a chance to be a fantastic leadoff hitter in the David DeJesus mold but with more speed. I’d love to see him get a chance.

The other options are the third base option to move Aviles over to second who I mentioned in the opening paragraph. Like I said, both have their warts. Let’s start with the more known quantity in Wilson Betemit. We saw what he could do offensively during the 2010 season when he put up a .889 OPS and showed why he was a top ranked prospect when he was much younger with the Braves. Defensively, though, he was pretty awful. Playing next to Alcides Escobar will help mask his defensive problems, but he’s still not much of a defender at third base. Plus, Ned Yost even came out and said last year that playing every day caused some problems for Betemit with his legs, so the Royals were going to try to keep him off the field a little more often which leaves the super utility role as the best spot for Betemit.

That doesn’t even take into account the fact that Betemit might not even be better than Aviles offensively, and it’s a pretty darn safe bet that he’s not going to be better defensively. Still, though, you have to wonder if replacing the incredibly weak bat of Chris Getz with the stronger bat of Wilson Betemit will wipe out whatever defensive you lose. My guess is yes, but that’s more because of the aforementioned reason of Escobar’s range replacing Betancourt’s than anything else because a regression is coming from Betemit. I still think he can hit .275/.350/.450, but that’s a far cry from his 2010 season.

The other option is about the least exciting option any team can have for any single position and that’s Pedro Feliz. Yes, that same Pedro Feliz who has had two average offensive seasons and a lot of well below average seasons. It used to be that his glove could carry his bat which at least had some pop in it, but even that has begun to decline. For awhile, Feliz was good enough at third base that he could be put at shortstop and actually look pretty solid there to the point that some thought he should be moved there because his offense just wasn’t good enough for the corner. He’s just on a piddly minor league contract that will probably amount to nothing, but it’s a little concerning that Feliz is the guy Dayton Moore picked as insurance against injuries. That is another topic entirely, but let’s just hope for now that Feliz doesn’t win the third base job out of spring training. At least Getz has some upside. Feliz is 36 and getting worse by the minute.

I do think it’s a little strange that the Royals are essentially handing second base to Chris Getz, but I can’t say I care all that much about the decision. I mentioned above that the competition is not between Aviles and Getz in the spring, but once the season begins, it’s a head-to-head battle to determine who stays as a starter when Mike Moustakas comes to the big leagues. On that day, presumably in June, the Royals have to make a decision who will be their second baseman. I suppose there’s the possibility that the Royals determine Giavotella is ready then and just go full on youth in the infield, but I have to assume it’ll be one of Aviles or Getz. I guess that’s why I don’t care all that much about this with the exception of the Giavotella non-possibility. I think when it’s all said and done, Getz will get two months at second base, prove he can’t hit enough and we’ll eventually get Aviles over there for the bulk of the season.

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