Alex Gordon Demoted

I wrote that I did not understand the Royals’ perspective on the Juan Cruz release. Afterward, I found myself reading a few threads on Royals Review to attempt and gain that point of view. One of the comments suggested Carlos Rosa was not long for the organization since the team chose to promote also-rans like Bruce Chen and Brad Thompson over the promising arm. What was then amusing is now prophetic. Marc Hulet will have more on that move tomorrow, but the Royals didn’t stop tinkering with their young players there. Oh no, yesterday they decided to demote Alex Gordon to the minors.

On one hand, I’d like to praise the Royals for the move. Gordon had not started in three days despite the Royals facing two righties in that span. On Saturday night, he entered the game as a pinch runner for Billy Butler. I could not believe the move then and I still cannot. Suspend the curiosity as to whom the Royals were playing in his place and focus on the idea that the Royals had designated their 26-year-old third baseman with a career .328 wOBA to pinch running duties.

Rather than burning Gordon’s service and developmental time on the bench in favor of such wunderkinds as Alberto Callaspo and Chris Getz, the Royals decided Gordon would be best suited to get consistent playing time in the minors. That is logical. It’s even defensible if they really think Gordon is not their best option at third base (and completely ignore long-term gains) or if Gordon is suffering from an undisclosed ailment.

There’s no way of knowing the latter, but how about the former?

The Royals’ non-first base infield will now consist of Callaspo, Getz, Yuniesky Betancourt, Mike Aviles, and occasionally Willie Bloomquist. To his credit, Callaspo has hit the ball insanely well this season, entering Sunday’s contest batting .301/.347/.505 with a 0.88 BB/K ratio to boot. The same cannot be said for Gordon, who possesses a .299 wOBA with a .227 BABIP. That ranks him in the lower half of the Roayals’ lineup, but therein lays an issue: Gordon has hit well relative to the other infielders Betancourt (.298), Getz (.222), and Bloomquist (.193).

Betancourt is the Royals’ starter at shortstop, which excuses his weak efforts. Aviles is freshly back and can also play shortstop. That leaves Getz and, to a lesser degree, Bloomquist as the main opponents to Gordon’s roster spot. Getz is also 26 years old and a fringe starter with nice contact skills and some versatility. He’s absolutely a potentially useful bench player, but he’s not worth jettisoning Alex Gordon over and particularly not when Getz has an option remaining, too.

If it came down to a false dichotomy where it was Gordon or Getz, then 1) the Royals value some players on their roster far too much and 2) they made the wrong choice. Gordon may not be Evan Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman, or George Brett, but those players should not be the baseline comparison for Gordon. He’s produced 5 WAR in roughly 1,400 plate appearances. Butler has produced 3.4 WAR in 1,600 plate appearances. For some reason Butler is treated well while Gordon is the victim of a roster crunch.

Gordon has earned a spot on the Royals’ 25-man roster, but you know what, the Royals may not deserve him.

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45 Responses to “Alex Gordon Demoted”

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  1. Kevin S. says:

    For some reason Butler is treated well while Gordon is the victim of a roster crunch.

    C’mon RJ, do you really think the Royals are capable of comparing an average to above-average defensive third baseman with a below-average defensive first baseman? Historically, third basemen have gotten held to the standard of first basemen and corner outfielders because they play a “corner” position as opposed to an “up the middle” position, and a team that’s been as willfully ignorant about statistical advances as the Royals isn’t going to know anything about the true standard of offense at the position.

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    • ecp says:

      Except that Alex Gordon has not been even an average third baseman since he was a rookie.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        He’s hovered right around it, and he’s had a short enough career that I just looked at career total, but fine. Call him below average if you want. He’d have to be the absolute worst butcher in the game to make his offense directly comparable to a below-average defensive first baseman.

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  2. Drew says:

    “For some reason Butler is treated well while Gordon is the victim of a roster crunch.”

    I think it’s because Butler seldom draws walks.

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    • Gina says:

      Lol, so Gordons real deficiency is that he hasn’t had the talent beaten out of him yet like poor Butler, who walked 16.8% of the time in 07 in the minors, and 12.2 in 08, has.

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  3. Sosasoser says:

    Did you really expect anything different from the Royals? They’ve never let Gordon just be the player that he actually is. He has a low batting average and strikes out a lot, thus he isn’t very good according to the Royals. Never mind that his OBP is actually good. The Royals don’t actually know what OBP is. They think it stands for Outstanding Bunt Percentage. Chris Getz is a very good bunter, thank you very much.

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  4. Joser says:

    Betancourt is the Royals’ starter at shortstop, which excuses his weak efforts.

    ….uh, what?

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    • TCQ says:

      In the comparison to Gordon. Rehashing Betancourt’s terrible, terrible play wouldn’t have been real useful there.

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  5. Ian says:

    Callaspo is not a sarcastic wunderkind. You seem really surprised at his production this year. Have you not looked at his numbers last year?? He’s the Royals second best hitter.

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    • wobatus says:

      Callaspo was a promising hitter in the minors and is fulfilling that promise. Gordon likely would do given the chance. He has a thumb inury, and 30 at bats after an early call up and they bury him again. I was offered Gordon for Helton. I turned it down only because I was worried the Royals would do something like this.

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  6. JoeyO says:

    Joser beat me to that one, and I must say I am mesmerized Fangraphs is excusing Betancourt of all people!

    But on the actual subject; it must be nice to be Moore. He is just chugging along doing whatever, making almost no sense at all and basically telling his boss “trust me”. For this he receives job security!

    Are we absolutely sure they aren’t trying to move the team to Florida, or maybe Vegas?

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    • Gina says:

      From most account the owner just really doesn’t care. It seems like Moore is essentially his own boss handed complete reigns to the franchise.

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  7. Jack B. says:

    When Yuniesky Betancourt is hitting .298 you know the end of the world is near.

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  8. ofMontreal says:

    Just to balance things out a bit, since I’m no Gordon fan, he hasn’t played well in 2 seasons. He’s certainly not hitting at the moment. And the Royals are “kicking the players in the pants”. I’m not supporting the actions of the Royals, it’s just that this makes sense. If they are too stupid to play Callaspo at 2nd, then they should send Gordon down for some pt. Because the genius in the dugout isn’t going to play him.

    And you can’t trade him for anything if he’s sitting on the bench. I think the whole Cornhusker thing has worn off and they’d like to turn him into something or 2 that can throw strikes. Think what the Angels would trade for him. There’s a bunch of good fit scenarios out there, but they can’t do it right now. Or maybe he starts hitting again and you have a better problem. Seems pretty clear to me.

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    • Will says:

      Yea, I’m sure he has huge trade value right now.

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    • kevin says:

      You are the only one it seems clear to then, aside from DM, which says a lot.

      He hasn’t been healthy in two years, thus his bad last couple of season. He had an OPS+109 in his second full season. There’s one player on the Royals that can boast that same number, Butler. He’s the Royals second best player, with more athleticism and talent than Butler, sending him down makes entirely no sense.

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    • Ophidian says:

      Let’s see that sequence of events again…

      1. Gordon missed all of ST with a thumb injury.
      2. He was rushed back early from his rehab when Getz got hurt.
      3. He failed to *immediately* find his swing.

      And this is Gordon’s FAULT?!?!? This is the behaviour of a badly run organization that they take a bad situation, shoot themselves in the foot, and set about making things worse for themselves.

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      • Joe D says:

        Dead on. I made the same comment later on, not realizing you had covered the bases here. Outstandingly put.

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    • JoeyO says:

      “he hasn’t played well in 2 seasons. He’s certainly not hitting at the moment. And the Royals are “kicking the players in the pants”.”

      The problem with that statement?

      .260/.351/.432/.783 in 2008

      Injury April 2009 (in game #9)

      Comes back July 17th, gets scattered starts and provides .227/.310/.333/.643 before being sent down to minors a month later (Aug 17th)

      Bright back up Sept 9th, hits .279/.359/.471/.830 rest of the way.

      Injured to start the season

      Comes back April 17th, hits .194/.342/.323/.665 and is sent to the minors 2 weeks later (May 1st)

      So its not that he hasn’t played well, its that he has had two injuries and been asked to prove himself instantly upon returning not once, but twice now. And I’m sorry, but after fairly serious injuries (Broken right thumb this season, torn labrum in his hip last year) players generally need a bit before they are back in the swing of things.

      If they leave him alone, he will be fine. And it isn’t like they are playing for anything anyway, so his struggling for a couple weeks after coming off the DL doesn’t hurt the club. This is supposed to be a rebuilding team using kids through better or worse until they grow. Instead they are acting as if a youngster doing anything but pounding the ball is intolerable on the club.

      Instead Moore and Co. somehow feel it more important to use the marginal talent, short-term players which are getting them no where.

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  9. SatchelP says:

    It’s not Butlers fault KC is whack

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  10. vivaelpujols says:

    Callaspo was also an excellent hitter last year. I think it’s safe to say that he’s better than Gordon at this point in his career.

    I agree that Gordon is definitely better than Getz and has more potential, he really has been playing like crap over the past two years and it’s not unreasonably to think that some consistent playing time in the minors will be more beneficial than sporadic playing time against closers on the bench. I don’t know.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Some consistent playing time in the majors would be more beneficial than consistent playing time in the minors. If Moore isn’t going to stand up to his manager’s idiocy, then that’s just another indication of the dysfunction in that organization.

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    • JoeyO says:

      “he really has been playing like crap over the past two years”

      When? In scattered play one month last year directly off the DL, and 2 weeks this year when directly off the DL? That’s somehow playing like crap the past two years now?

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  11. Andy S. says:

    Maybe Alex Gordon needs more minor league seasoning? Although at age 26, what more could he get? I suppooe he may not deliver on all that’s promised at this point…

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  12. Nathan says:

    Alex Gordon has failed to produce in two-plus seasons. I cannot believe you compare Butler to him. Butler is a CONSISTENT 300 hitter, whom if you dont remember was a HIGH SCHOOL draft selection, and Gordon was the more mature college kid. In all honesty Gordon is no better than a AA player at this stage. Great move by KC, and MAYBE just MAYBE Gordon will not only learn to HIT the ball, but also learn walks are just as important!

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    • JoeyO says:

      Gordon hasn’t been given a chance to produce in two season! That’s the thing illogical people like yourself seem unable to grasp.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      I really hope this is some kind of sarcasm because, well, if we’re talking Gordon, Butler and walk rate…

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    • cygar13 says:

      I’m in total agreement with you Nathan. It seems because Gordon WAS a top prospect automatically makes him better than others. He can’t sniff Callaspo (that’s obvious), why is he better than Getz? At least Getz has proven he can run (20+SB’s last year) and hit a little. Gordon has proved nothing, NOTHING, besides he can get hurt and hit .260. I like this comment in the article.

      He’s produced 5 WAR in roughly 1,400 plate appearances. Butler has produced 3.4 WAR in 1,600 plate appearances. For some reason Butler is treated well while Gordon is the victim of a roster crunch.

      I know I will rumple some panties on this website, but that should prove to you how accurate WAR is. There isn’t one GM alive who would take Gordon over Butler, not one. There was a dumb article this winter trying to justify that Gordon was better than Butler because of the same metrics.

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  13. Ed Nelson says:

    I can’t understand the confusion here. Callaspo is the better player here. In the end, Callaspo may end up having the better career if the power holds up, and it’s beginning to look like it will. The issue is that neither Gordon nor Callaspo can really play 2nd and that’s that. Now if Callaspo get’s traded, and that’s no stretch, a spot will open for Gordon, but until then this is simply a matter of a player getting hurt and losing his job.

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  14. Bob Dylan says:

    dayton moore why isn’t this man president of the world yet?!?!?!

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  15. Joe D says:

    I’m annoyed by the way it all played out.

    Gordon missed a chunk of spring training due to injury. They called him up early from his rehab in the minors. They decide, based on less than 40 plate appearances, that he should be sent down to the minors.

    Certainly not fair to Gordon. Which would be OK if it was best for the team, which it’s not, even if the front office is somehow operating under the delusion that they are competitive.

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    • Paul says:

      You left something out that’s very important here. Gordon injured himself by sliding headfirst into second. That seemed to be the last straw in a long string of Alex wanting to do things his own way. Granted, the Royals org. is terrible, but he’d have a lot more support on that front if he would stop making HS JV ball mistakes. Oh, and for those throwing around a 5 WAR based largely on defense, you have either never watched Alex Gordon play 3B or you are on crack. I said it when I watched him in his first MLB game in 07, and unfortunately it still holds: Alex Gordon is a straight butcher at 3B.

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  16. RickMcKC says:

    Everyone keeps saying that AG only had limited plate appearances during his return, but hasn’t he also had a bunch of errors in that time? Maybe it’s about lackidasical fielding and they’re just not tolerating it when AC is hitting like he is. Dunno – will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

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  17. jim says:

    Until Alex Gordon can close the holes in his swing, he should be in AAA…..Cannot hit fastball up and in…..cannot hit slow stuff away….he has the one handed back hand swing that would make Chris Evert say “use your top hand”….hitting below average fastballs belt high middle or hanging breaking stuff in are his only chances….he looks like he inherited his passion for the game/ overall demeanor from J.D. Drew……thought this from the beginning and frankly don’t see him figuring it out….unfortunately=bust!

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    • SagehenMcGyver47 says:

      Gordon may have a hole in his swing, but sending him back to the minors is not going to change anything — he’s already shown he can hit minor-league pitching. Career minor league OPS: 1.023 in 745 PAs; career AAA OPS: 1.005 in 90 PAs. He has reportedly been working extra during his rehab stints with the KC batting coach (Kevin Seitzer), though he hasn’t had enough opportunity in 2010 to show whether that work is paying off.

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  18. Steve says:

    Maybe Gordon just isn’t as good as everyone thought he was going to be when he was a prospect, but instead of admitting that, it’s easier to blame the organization?

    Of course, the organization IS a fairly incompetent one.

    Still, both of those things can be true.

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    • Stephan says:

      I don’t really thnk anyone that anyone else thinks he will fulfill whatever it was he was hyped to be when he was drafted… That aside, with expectations adjusted and even with his label as a “isn’t as good prospect” he is still better than essentially all of the position players on that team save a few.

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  19. Alex Olson says:

    Send him to the Minors and have him rake. Then, in late June or early July, trade him for a low A prospect or call him up if his numbers are good and his confidence is high. Remember that Kila K is raking at Omaha as well. At this point, I would rather give Kila a chance at 1st base (when Jose G. is traded). He is supposedly a better fielder than Butler and might even have more power.

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  20. Chris says:

    I can only assume that DM, along with those slamming Gordon’s performance, have AG on their 5×5 roster and think that is the only measure of a player’s worth…

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  21. Dan says:

    Callapso sucks…he is scared of the ball defensively (watch him not turn a double play, miss a tag, or jog to a fly ball so he doesn’t have to drop it). Also, he is so stinking slow; at third base he can’t defend against a bunt, and will hit into a double play more often than not. If he has so much upside, why haven’t any teams offered anything for him? The biggest difference in competing against Tampa Bay this weekend was not having Callapso at 2nd. I don’t think Gordon is very good, but even with Callapso’s batting average he hurts the team more than he helps. The bottom line though is if it weren’t for Callapso pathetic defense the Royals would have won 5 or 6 more games and Grienke wouldn’t be winless. As bad as the Royals are, I can’t understand the loyalty to Callapso, who is only second on the team if you are talking about overrated players.

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  22. R M says:

    Of course nobody sees the 7/8 BB/K ratio or the .227 BABIP. Idiots.

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