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Giving Kila Ka'aihue more time could hurt the team but help the organization


In baseball there are two words to describe a ball-club: team and organization. While they are often used interchangeable, they typically refer to different things. The team consists of the players at the Major League level in the span of one season. The organization is every player at every level of baseball under the franchise banner, the front office, the management, the future and everything that goes along with it. The goal of a team is to win as many games as possible this year. The goal of an organization is to put together teams that can win as many games as possible.

Typically the goals of a team and an organization are identical, but often they are at odds. For example, in 2010 the Royals traded Scott Podsednik to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Elisaul Pimentel and Luke May. Podsednik was a productive player for the Royals in 2010. While he made the team better and could have helped them win more games in 2010, his best value to the organization was as trade bait. Adding young, cost-controlled Minor League talent was a boost to the organization in the long-run at the expense of the team in the short run.

The vast majority of baseball fans are fans of the team, not necessarily the organization. They obviously want the organization to do well and to create winning teams, but for them the forest can be lost for the trees. There is nothing inherently wrong with these kinds of fans.

Keeping up with an organization is not easy. It requires knowledge of the Minor League system, the draft, options, waivers, arbitration, salaries and a million other things. I like keeping up and understanding all of that, but I can certainly understand the viewpoint of someone who doesn’t. Most people just want to watch some baseball games and root on the home team. For them, trying to figure out whether Elisaul Pimentel was a decent return for Scott Podsednik is a waste of time and energy. They know that Podsednik was valuable, he’s gone and therefore it’s a bad move. And they are 100% correct in terms of their own baseball perspective.

All of this brings me to Kila Ka’aihue. To say he’s hitting poorly is the understatement of the year. The topic of what to do with him is on everybody’s mind. It’s exacerbated by the fact that the Royals are currently in contention for the American League Central.

Here, we have another situation where the best interest of the team is possibly at odds with the best interest of the organization. If Kila continues to struggle, his lack of offense hurts the team’s chances of winning games. Fans see his lack of production and they see guys like Clint Robinson and Eric Hosmer playing well at AAA. In a simple 1+1=2 scenario, you replace the guy hitting poorly with the guy who is hitting well. It’s a knee-jerk reaction based on trying to win more games this week, and in that context it’s absolutely correct.

I think it’s certainly possible that promoting Clint Robinson or Eric Hosmer has a decent chance of helping this team win more games in the short term. On the flip-side, I think it’s the wrong decision from an organizational standpoint. The fact that the Royals keep running him out there leads me to believe they agree with me.

Kila has nothing to prove at AAA anymore. All that’s left is for him to prove that he belongs at the Major League level, and it’s in the Royals best interest for that to happen. His track record in the Minors shows a guy who has prodigious power and an uncanny ability to get on base. Those are hard skills to come by and if they can surface at the highest level, he will be valuable to the organization. That value can come as depth or in trade, but make no mistake it’s extremely valuable.

Now, the goal of the Organization is to have winning teams. So if this team continues winning and there is a greater chance that they can become division champions, things will change. Then the goals of the team will coincide with the goals of the franchise. It’s at that time where benching a struggling player like KIla and promoting a guy like Eric Hosmer is more likely to happen. In statistical terms, the length of Kila’s leash is inversely proportional to the expectations the team has of winning the division.

As fans, we get to over-react, second-guess and believe that our team is going to the playoffs. It’s exactly what makes being a fan so much fun. However, there are times where the needs of the organization out-weigh the needs of a team. Allowing Kila a few more months to figure things out might be one of those times. The payoff in the end just might be a better team in the future.

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


Steve Jacob 7 years ago

I would agree with you, if Kila was not 27 years old. And you have to win games at this point, with the Twins and White Sox not doing well, 90 wins might win the division, on top of that, the Royals have money and prospects to pick up starting pitching at the deadline if they are still close.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

The royals have pitching prospects right now that are better than anything they could get in a trade. They don't need to make a move to acquire pitching.

I agree that kila's age is important, but he's had really only a handful of major league at bats. He's shown that during stretches he can be really good, like last september.

Steve Jacob 7 years ago

I get the feeling the starting pitching talent in the minors is a year farther away then the hitters.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

That's really hard to judge. It's possible, but I don't know that I agree. I think some of the pitching is ready to go right now.

eminencefront 7 years ago

Agreed. Sure Hosmer is having success now at AAA. But the big show is a different animal. Your weaknesses will be found. Let the guy taste success. Don't push him too early.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

Yeah, I'm with you on that. He's just getting his first taste of AAA. Some time to develop there is not the worst thing in the world.

Bob Forer 7 years ago

The Royals haven't brought Hosmer to the Show is because if they wait til a certain date in the season, they will prolong for one year the time period before Hosmer becomes eligible for free agency. If teams wait until a few weeks after the season has begun to call a prospect up for his MLB debut, the player doesn't collect a full year of service time, which delays his free agency by a year. The precise date until which teams must wait before calling prospects up varies each year and according to whether players are on the 40-man roster.

Were it not for that, Hosmer would be playing now instead of Kila. He had a good spring training and is already tearing up AAA pitching this season.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

Yes, there are two important dates for calling up prospects.

  1. the time they will not accrue a full year of service time
  2. the time where they will not become a super-two for arbitration purposes

At this point, neither of those are the reason that Hosmer has not been called up. the fact he hasn't spent any time at AAA is the primary reason he is down there right now. The organization rightly believes he isn't ready for the mb just yet.

Bob Forer 7 years ago

Ok. But if Kila continues to falter at the plate, and the Royals remain contenders into mid-summer, I think there is a good chance Hosmer will be brought up assuming he continues to fire up Triple AAA pitching, and assuming the two dates you mentioned have passed.

I think this years team has the capability of winning over 80 games, for a number of reasons, including, but not limited, to the following:

1) Chen is pitching beautifully 2) The bullpen appears solid.
3) There is still hope for Hochevar,. 4) Escobar is saving runs with his brilliant glove, and his hitting is below expectations, and will, hopefully, improve.
5) Aviles and Betemit have historically proven themselves to wield decent bats, and are both capable of maintaining an average of close to .300.
6) While Francoeur typically starts the season hot, some pundits are suggesting this could be his break-out year.
7) Butler has a wicked bat and will continue to improve. 8) Getz is showing promise.
9) Jeff Gordon is starting to make those who already gave up on him look like fools. He is tearing up the league with his BA and Slugging Pct. Granted, Gordon has put up a few hot streaks in previous years, but never of this year's duration. (We have played just over 10% of the season). Some pundits are attributing his new found consistency to leveling out his swing, which increases the amount of time his bat takes to move through the strike zone. If true, the downside is fewer home runs, but that's more than a fair trade-off, i.e., I will gladly sacrifice 10 dingers a year if Gordon can hit .290 to .310, remain in the top 5 in doubles, and decrease the number of strikeouts. His surprising prowess in left field is all gravy.
10) Melky is playing better than expected.
11) Yost knows his baseball and appears to have convinced they guys they are capable of wining. While his presence may not result in increased wins, at least we won't be losing games based on poor managerial decisions a la Trey Hillman.

The starting rotation is our Achilles' heel Luke and Bruce aren't exactly Spahn and Sain, but we sure got the "Then Pray for Rain" part down pat.

Should be an interesting and fun season.

parrothead8 7 years ago

It's "Alex" Gordon. Jeff Gordon drives cars for a living.

Also, which pundits are suggesting this could be Francoeur's "breakout" year? This is a guy who had 29 HRs and 103 RBI in his first full season...does that not qualify as a "breakout" season? This season could be a comeback season, but in my opinion, his "breakout" season was 2006. Unfortunately, pitchers have figured him out since then.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

I agree with all of that. I think if the royals are contending AND kila is still struggling, the team will go to hosmer or robinson to fill the gap.

i think 80 is attainable, but I'm still holding to mid 70's as a total win number.

parrothead8 7 years ago

Robinson has hands of concrete, so he's basically good as a DH...not much else. However, he's worth giving a shot if for no other reason than to delay when the service time clock starts running on Hosmer.

I have to heartily disagree with srj, who suggests picking up pitchers at the deadline (if the Royals are in contention) by trading prospects. Bad idea. Dayton Moore has a long-range plan for this franchise, and it's a year or so from coming to fruition. We do not want to mortgage the future just to make the playoffs this season. With the limited financial resources this franchise has, and as reliant as it is on drafting well and developing talent from within, dealing away several prospects for a one-year rental could set the Royals back for years.

KC's pitching prospects are unbelievable. Montgomery could be up this year, and Lamb, Duffy, and Dwyer aren't far behind. It is not inconceivable that Luke Hochevar could be the #5 starter in KC as early as 2012. Add those guys to Hosmer and Moose as corner infielders, Gordon and Wil Myers as corner OFs, Escobar/Colon in the middle infield, Soria closing and Butler DHing, and you've got a heckuva dangerous team on both offense and defense affordable and under team control for 5-6 years.

The best thing that could happen for the Royals is for any expensive veteran on the roster (luckily, they don't have too many) to play well right up until the trade deadline, then trade them all for good prospects to replenish the system when Hosmer, Moose, Myers, and all those pitchers get called up.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

I disagree with it because I think that the pitchers the royals could promote are better than anything they could get in a trade. Rushing a promotion is a better route to immediate success in my mind than renting a pitcher for some prospects.

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