Royals mailbag: Mike Moustakas’ attitude? Moving Alcides Escobar up in the lineup?

Welcome to the weekly mailbag. There’s plenty to talk about, starting with the eventful week of Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.

Let’s get to it.

Sure, I filed this mailbag. But we wouldn’t even be talking about that if Ficky hadn’t done a great job editing it. When he edits like that, every day, the way we know he can, we have a chance to produce great content. And that’s what it’s all about.

For his sake, at least, I doubt Moustakas needs "the media as motivation," although it was pretty clear he was perturbed by Tuesday’s events.

I won’t pretend to know Moustakas, but those who do better explained his frustration stemmed from the concept that he served as a distraction from the team. The internal displeasure from the club — Dayton Moore’s classic line, "Is there anything good about this team right now?" — arose because the team had just completed a successful road trip.

But I think the spotlight on Moustakas should shine bright, because he is so critical to their success this year. This roster lacks an offensive superstar. They require contributions from each spot in the lineup.

And, another thing: This is Mike Moustakas! He’s not some jabroni the team plucked from the waiver wire. He was the No. 2 pick in the 2007 draft. He boomed 36 homers in his final full season in the minors, with a .322/.369/.630 line. When the Royals called Moustakas up in 2011, Baseball America considered him the No. 9 prospect in baseball.

To me, it rings somewhat hollow when team officials grouse about this level of criticism being directed at a "No. 7, No. 8 hitter," as both Ned Yost and Dayton Moore characterized him. More was expected from Moustakas. Yes, his lack of success at the majors has diminished those expectations. Yost projected Moustakas as a .250 hitter with 20 to 25 home runs. He is still far from that, even. And he’s still one of the foundational players around which this roster was built.

Probably not. Eric Hosmer bats there, and since he is (probably) the team’s best hitter, he should stay there. That way, he gets more at-bats. It’s why Joey Votto bats second for the Reds. Escobar has exceeded expectations thus far. But he’s still not far removed from the offensive horrors of 2013.


To expand on that thought:

1. I understand the impulse to trade Billy Butler. But what are you receiving in return? He’s a designated hitter with a 62 OPS+ with a $12.5 million option for next season. Why would trade him when his value is so low?

2. The value of Cain relies around his defense. He’s a fantastic fielder. He’s a below-average hitter, with a career .270/.322/.382 slash line. That’s not worthwhile at the DH position.

By the way: Butler is 5-for-28 with zero extra-base hits since sitting in San Diego.

Chen is still weeks away, most likely, from starting a rehabilitation assignment. So Duffy will have an extended opportunity lock down a spot in the rotation. If Duffy is pitching well, I would be shocked if he moves to bullpen upon Chen’s return.

Part of Chen’s appeal is his malleability. He understood when he re-signed that if he pitched poorly or got hurt, he could lose his starting role. Both outcomes occurred. Duffy, meanwhile, has given up two runs in his two starts. He will be on a normal leash for his start on Saturday. Some evaluators in the organization still believe he has the talent to front-line a rotation. Now is his chance to show it.

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/McCulloughStar.