At this stage of the season, there's no sugar-coating what has been a disappointing year. The Royals have the worst record in the American League. The team is on pace for 95 losses, and 100 are not out of the realm of possibility. Meanwhile the possibility of contending has long left Kauffman Stadium. These are all ways of saying that 2012 isn't "our time." But that doesn't mean that 2012 has to look like this for the next two months. Forget the bullpen phone; it's time to start calling Omaha.
The Royals made the right decision when they started playing an up-and-coming outfielder for a slumping Jeff Francoeur. They just picked the wrong one. Jarrod Dyson filled in well (in stretches) for Lorenzo Cain and clearly established that he can change a game with his speed. But at 27 years old, Dyson is only a year younger than Francoeur. And while he may be faster and slightly better defensively, his lack of power suggests that right now, there's not much difference when one over the other is in the lineup. If the Royals were really going to be evaluating their future, they'd be plugging Wil Myers into right field and letting him aim for the fountains.
The same methodology appears to be in play with the demotion of Betancourt. The Royals chose to call up Tony Abreu, a 27-year-old free agent who was signed last December to split time with Chris Getz at second base. Johnny Giavotella, 25, is still starting for the Storm Chasers. It's worth finding out if Giavotella can turn the double play at the major league level. Perhaps the Royals were hedging their bets when they signed him to a one-year contract. But it would be worth knowing if he was a prospect they missed or a player who might factor into 2013 and beyond.
It's time to stop shuffling pieces like sitcom spinoffs and instead treat the rest of 2012 as an extended Futures Game. I'd settle for a few position players — pitchers have a terrible habit of getting hurt or shellacked — being given a chance to win the job for 2013 and bringing a pulse back to a stadium that has gone as flat as Jason Bourgeois' tire.
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