Could Bonifacio be the Royals’ long-term answer at second base?
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Five observations on the current state of the Royals.
BONIFACIO THE ANSWER?
We’ve been preaching for months that general manager Dayton Moore needs to fill two holes in the lineup come this off-season: right field and second base.
But what if the issue at second base already has been resolved?
The more the Royals see of Emilio Bonifacio — picked up in a trade with Toronto — the more they like. And the more manager Ned Yost sees of Bonifacio hitting second in the order, the more satisfied he is to leave the batting order alone.
Since coming over from the Jays, Bonifacio is hitting .300 for the Royals with a .404 on-base percentage. He has eight steals in eight tries. And he is playing a solid second base, a position that has been a huge issue for the Royals all season.
The Royals have tried Chris Getz (on the bench), Johnny Giavotella (in the minors), Elliot Johnson (released and now with the Braves) and Miguel Tejada (suspended by MLB) at second base. Now, over the last few days, Bonifacio has given Yost and the Royals everything they want out of that position.
As a No. 2 hitter, Bonifacio is ideal, as long as he continues to get on base, of course. He can switch-hit, which means Yost can run out a set lineup at the top, and he can cause havoc on the bases.
Just two years ago with the Marlins, Bonifacio, 28, had a great season: .296 average, .360 on-base percentage, 40 steals, 26 doubles. We know that type of player still exists inside Bonifacio.
If the Royals can get lucky and Bonifacio returns to that form, they could solve their second-base issue. He is under club control for one more season before he becomes a free agent.
And if Bonifacio is the answer, that could free up Moore’s off-season search and allow him to focus on getting a big bat in right field, and possibly re-signing Ervin Santana, without bloating the payroll beyond owner David Glass’ projected ceiling (which he hasn’t set yet).
THE DAVIS ISSUE
I asked Yost before Monday’s game if he had resolved the Wade Davis situation. Davis continues to struggle in the rotation with a 5.61 ERA and a hideous 1.75 WHIP.
Yost told me that he and his staff still hadn’t decided if Davis would make his next start, scheduled for Thursday in Minnesota, and that he “still had a couple of days to decide.”
It’s interesting that Yost simply didn’t confirm Davis would make that start. The Royals could allow Davis one more start, then bring up Danny Duffy with the rest of the September call-ups. But Yost may have something else up his sleeve.
Truth is, the Royals can’t keep sending out Davis and giving away games. But what are Yost’s options?
Well, he could go back to Luis Mendoza, who has looked better lately, and then turn to Duffy next week.
You have to give it up for third baseman Mike Moustakas, who continues to play on basically just one leg. Clearly his calf injury is not nearly healed, yet Moustakas is out there almost every game, hobbling around the base paths and doing his best to defend at third base.
The Royals need Moustakas’ bat in the lineup if they are to finish above .500, and he knows it, which is why he is playing at about 70 or 80 percent.
HERRERA IS BACK
It seems every time I mention that reliever Kelvin Herrera, who has had a rocky season, has found his groove, he has a bad outing to prove me wrong.
So I suggest again with some caution: Herrera is back.
Maybe. Perhaps. Think so.
Herrera has not given up a run in six straight outings. And in the month of August he has been nicked for just one run in 15 innings.
BUTLER AT CLEANUP
Yost’s new-look batting order is probably here to stay for a variety of reasons.
Alex Gordon is back in the leadoff spot (where he prefers to be), Bonifacio is surfacing as the ideal No. 2 hitter, Eric Hosmer is in the No. 3 spot (where his long-term future is anyway), and Billy Butler is back hitting cleanup, which keeps him away from the dreaded, first-inning-ending-double-play ball.
In fact, Butler has taken to the No. 4 spot. In the last five games there, he is 8 for 19, including a booming home run Monday.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.