Coming into spring training, the Kansas City Royals had very few position battles to work out as the 2013 season approached—which is remarkably odd for a team coming off a 72-win season.
Other than the perennial lobbying for bullpen spots, the Royals were primarily focused on who would be the team’s No. 5 starting pitcher and who would emerge as their starting second baseman.
With the Royals going with Luis Mendoza as the fifth starter (via kshb.com, per Mike Swanson), it was announced that Chris Getz would indeed begin the season as Alcides Escobar’s double-play mate (via the Wichita Eagle).
The Royals were somewhat hamstrung by the fact that neither Getz nor Johnny Giavotella play anywhere other than second base. Keeping both around would severely limit roster flexibility, so Kansas City saw its best move as being to send the 25-year-old Giavotella down to Triple-A Omaha where he would receive more consistent playing time.
Elliott Johnson (brought over with James Shields and Wade Davis in the Wil Myers trade) and Miguel Tejada will more than likely serve as Kansas City’s utility infielders.
Whether or not going with Getz was the correct decision will work itself out over the course of the season, but it does little to hide the fact that the Royals still have a huge void at second base.
While Getz has shown at times that he can handle the job, staying healthy is his biggest challenge. The 29-year-old appeared in only 64 games last season.
Giavotella has failed to capitalize on his few chances with the big league club, batting just .242/.271/.340 over parts of two seasons and not displaying the hitting ability that has teased the organization over the years.
If Giavotella is ever going to be a regular with the Royals, his offensive production will need to be stellar, as his glove leaves much to be desired.
There was no question as to who actually won the battle this spring, with Getz outhitting Giavotella by a not-so-close margin while playing a more consistent brand of defense (via MLB.com).
Competition is healthy in sports, but the Royals must eventually find a better option at second base, however.
Former first-round pick Christian Colon could be a good fit, but he, too, has been hampered by injuries that have stunted his development. The other options for the Royals simply aren’t close to being ready at the major league level.
While Getz could serve as a capable stopgap, the others around him will need to perform in order to highlight his strengths on the field.
It is clear that the Royals are banking on Getz being healthy, providing solid defense at a key position and doing just enough to complement the rest of their lineup. It is his track record, however, that keeps the overall optimism at bay.