Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stupid move: Royals send Hochevar to Omaha

Excuse me as I hop on my soap box for a minute. What the heck are the Royals thinking with their pitching staff right now? With Tuesday's demotion of Luke Hochevar in favor of the Aruban Knight Sidney Ponson I can't help but think something is wrong between Hochevar and Trey Hillman. I cannot fathom why this club would do this. It's insane. It's asinine.

Yes, I understand my recent rotation prediction for the club had Ponson as the fourth starter and Hochevar as the odd man out in the five spot. The prediction was right on the money. Horacio Ramirez is the long reliever in the bullpen. Still, I don't agree with it.

Look, I think the Sidney Ponson signing was a really good one. I think he's certainly worth making this club over guys like Bannister and Ramirez. The fact is, left hander or not, Ponson would have been a better option than Horacio Ramirez. Ramirez, despite the excuses this spring, has been horrible. Absolutely H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E. Ponson isn't anything special. He's mediocre at best. But he's a better option than Ramirez, in my opinion.

What else did Hochevar need to do to make this team? I'm absolutely baffled. He was arguably the best starting pitcher in camp this spring, and did everything he needed to do to make the club. The kid has made strides from a year ago, and is progressing into a pitcher who looks like he will be dominant on the hill very soon. He should be the No. 4 guy.

I wrote my predictions knowing that Hillman and Moore had some infatuation with Ponson being their No. 4 guy. They have treated him like a god since he signed on. He's reliable, but far from the future of this club.

It's not even looking like Hochevar will be the No. 5 guy when they expand the rotation to five guys in about a month. Right now, all of the talks are that Ramirez will be moved into that role when it's expanded.

Hochevar, if he's indeed going to be a key cog to the rotation for years to come, needs to pitch against MAJOR LEAGUERS and prove his metal. I'm not sure what the hell he has to prove pitching against minor leaguers every fifth day. Let's face it, Triple-A is NOT the same as the big leagues. The kid flashed all sorts of signs of breaking out this year. I think the Royals are in danger of killing his confidence and stunting his growth with this bonehead move. They are showing no confidence in him at all.

I know Luke has a good head on his shoulders. He reminds me of Teahen in the sense that he can shake these things off and keep moving forward. Still, just like Teahen, there comes a time when young guys begin to question their worth to an organization. And when you lose some guys you will never get them back. He's going to sit down at some point today and think, "Am I not good enough in their eyes to beat out Sidney Ponson and Horacio Ramirez?"

Bad move.


Anonymous said...

Hate to disagree with you but this move makes total sense.

Hochever still has options. Ponson becomes a Free Agent if he's not on the ML roster by May 1st. There is nothing wrong with giving him 4 or 5 starts in April to see if McClure can coax him to pitch well.

If he succeeds, great! If not, release him and call up Hoch who has gotten regular work in the minors the entire month of April.

If Ponson can re-capture anything then this gives the Royals depth at the starting rotation they haven't had in years and years. If not get rid of him before the first week of May...and the season will be far from over.

Makes great sense to me.

Levi "Tug" Payton said...

Great points. As I have stated, I like Ponson and felt he needed a shot at the rotation. Also, I completely understand the move in the sense that Hoch still has options.
But should any organization deprive a player from earning service time in the big leagues (when he appears to have done everything needed to earn a job) just because he has options remaining? Because that's clearly what happened here. Simply no other way around it.
If so, there's something wrong with the "options" rule that needs to be fixed.
This rule was established to help clubs keep young players in their system longer, but once it starts to backfire on the players who are legit big leaguers then the MLBPA is going to throw a fit. Hoch should have been stretched out as a long reliever and saved his options. Instead, they are going to penalize his spring by banning him to Omaha while they give less deserving guys a five week tryout in the big leagues. He deserved that much.

Anonymous said...

You make good counter-points. The problem is he's also stuck because of H Ramierez' contract. He's got a major league deal and isn't going anywhere.

On the other hand, if we take a good look at spring numbers Meche and Greinke should be staying around for extended spring training!

Hoch had a good spring true. But last year wasn't exactly exciting.

I see your point, on the other hand I wouldn't call it a 'Stupid move'.

Levi "Tug" Payton said...

Agreed. Nice points.

Anonymous said...

As much as I like Hochevar ... so far the returns on him have sucked for being the No. 1 overall pick. If it wasn't for Matt Bush this decade Hochevar would probably easily be the worst No. 1 pick in the draft. He has underachieved and yes he should be good enough to start in KC, but like the earlier post said, maybe Ponson is on a trial run and then if he fails, its Hochevar's job.