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MLB Analysis: Why Did the Kansas City Royals Designate Mitch Maier for Assignment?

The Royals parted ways with their longest tenured player on Wednesday afternoon when the designated Mitch Maier for assignment, thus clearing another spot on the 40-man roster – which now stands at 38 players.

Mitch has been a model citizen ever since he became a Royal. He was selected as a catcher in the 1st round of the 2003 draft by KC before the organization opted to convert him to a third basemen in 2004. After the Royals acquired third basemen Mark Teahen as a part of the Carlos Beltran deal in 2005, effectively blocking his path to the majors, Maier was then shifted to the outfield. Nobody ever heard a single gripe or complaint from Mitch – that’s just who he was. He made his debut for the Royals in 2006 and spent all of 2007 and part of 2008 in Omaha before seeing major playing time in Kansas City.

In parts of 6 seasons (360 games total) with the Royals, Mitch has amassed a slash line of .248/.327/.344 while filling in for the injured David DeJesus, Rick Ankiel, Jose Guillen, Coco Crisp, Scott Podsednik, etc. His best season came in 2010, when he played in 117 games, hit .263/.333/.375 with 26 XBH (15 doubles, 6 tiples, 5 HRs) while driving in 39 runs and scoring 41.

2011′s outfield of Gordon, Melky, and Frenchy limited Mitch’s playing time to just 45 games. But he did manage to make his pitching debut in Fenway Park that season, pitching one scoreless inning in a lop-sided loss. He followed up his first outing with an identical performace this season in another lop-sided loss, this time against the Indians.

Bottom line: Mitch does his job.

With Gordon and Francoeur playing practically everyday, Jarrod Dyson and Jason Bourgeois currently platooning center, Lorenzo Cain coming back from various injuries, and Wil Myers due to be in Kansas City any day now, Mitch is basically the odd man out. At 30 years old, he’s hardly a young player hwo just needs a shot somewhere. He is what he is: a utility outfielder who does everything fundamentally well, but doesn’t excel at any one area of his game. But guys like that are just as valuable to a team as any other position player. Every team needs a role-player who can come off the bench at anytime and be ready. I have no doubt that a team, most likely an NL club, will take a chance on him.

Now let’s talk about the 40-man roster spot that has been vacated.

All of the players listed on a team’s 4-man roster are guaranteed Major League contracts, meaning they will begin earning at least the league’s minimum salary. In order for a player to be on your 25-man roster, he has to be on the 40-man roster. A few names that aren’t on the 40-man include…

Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi.

The Royals recently promoted pitchers Nate Adcock and Louis Coleman to Kansas City while optioning Vin Mazzaro back to Omaha. Both Adcock and Coleman are here to supplement the bullpen until after the All-Star break, with Adcock serving as a long reliever/spot-starter and Coleman as a 6th/7th inning arm. With both of them on board, the Royals are carrying 13 pitchers to 12 fielders (the normal split is 13 fielders and 12 pitchers).

After the break, one of Adcock and Coleman figures to be summoned back to Omaha along with one of Jason Bourgeois and Irving Falu – with both Lorenzo Cain and Chris Getz slated to come off the DL soon.

But with these two free spots on the roster, it’s hard not to think Wil Myers and either Jake Odorizzi are destined for Kauffman Stadium sooner rather than later.

Wil Myers has done everything to earn his roster spot but drive to Kansas City and knock on Dayton Moore’s office door himself. Since being called-up to Triple-A Omaha, Wil has absolutely… well, you all already know: .317/.398/.639, 26 XBH (8 doubles, 4 triples, 14 HRs), 42 RBI, 40 runs scored, and has shown increased presence at the plate with his 1.75:1 K:BB ratio in just 47 games. He’s playing virtually every day in center field, which is probably the position with the biggest offensive void in Kansas City.

Team officials have recently begun to acknowledge that it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep Myers in Omaha. So maybe when he makes the trip to Kansas City for the All-Star Future’s Game, Dayton Moore will give him a reason to stay beyond the break.

Hardly to be outshined and over-shadowed, Jake Odorizzi is making his case for a big league promotion as well. Since his promotion to Omaha, he’s been flat-out dominant: 5-0, 2.83 ERA, 3:1 K:BB ratio, and a 1.42 WHIP. The starting rotation has been the Royals Achille’s Heel this season, as they’re only getting fairly consistent production from Bruce Chen. Hochevar has been both dominant and ineffective, Jonathan Sanchez deserves to be cut and never spoken of again, Duffy and Paulino are TJ victims, Vin Mazzaro has been below-average, Luis Mendoza should only start in emergencies, Nate Adcock has proven to be a better bullpen arm, and Everett Teaford has been good enough to get by.

Clearly, this Odorizzi guy deserves to get his shot. Afterall, every one else seems to be getting second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth chances.

Although I’m extremely excited for all of the All-Star events being in Kansas City for the next week or so, I can’t wait until a week from now when the Royals lineup cards might include the names “Myers” and “Odorizzi”.

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