After predictably not playing him for two weeks, the Royals sent Kila Ka’aihue back to Triple-A yesterday. His final tally? One start and four at-bats in 11 games. Here’s what new manager Ned Yost said about the demotion:
It just kills me to see Kila sitting on the bench and not playing. I think he’s a huge part of our future, and for me I’d much rather have him down there right now, getting his at-bats, playing first base and if something happened he could come back here.
Ka’aihue is already 26 years old and has spent nine seasons in the minors, including the past three at Triple-A, so if he’s truly “a huge part of our future” the Royals should be playing him right now. Instead they’re a 14-24 team giving everyday playing time to 34-year-old Jose Guillen, which makes Yost’s whole “it just kills me to see him sitting on the bench” statement seem fairly absurd.
If it really kills Yost to see Ka’aihue sitting on the bench, then play him. Simple as that. I realize the Royals probably have some fantasy about cashing in Guillen for big value at the trading deadline, but that’s just not going to happen. He’s a 34-year-old designated hitter with a mediocre .255/.310/.479 line, including .220/.277/.349 in 29 games since his early homer binge, and hasn’t topped an .800 OPS since 2007.
If they can dump him for a mid-level prospect or some salary relief, do it. If not, cut him and give Ka’aihue five starts per week to find out whether he might actually be part of the next competitive Royals team. Sending him back to Triple-A for a third tour of duty at age 26 while a 34-year-old DH with a rapidly declining .786 OPS plays every day is just not something that makes sense for a team that has no shot of even finishing .500.
Stuff like this is why firing Trey Hillman and promoting Yost likely won’t even make a dent in the Royals’ problems. They’re rotten to the core.