With an eleven game losing streak, the Kansas City Royals shook-up their line-up yesterday. Gone was 22-year-old DH Billy Butler and in was 27-year-old middle infielder Mike Aviles. Aviles took the starting job from SS Tony Pena, and Butler's spot in the line-up was filled by Joey Gathright.
Replacing Pena seems to be a no-brainer as he hits like the average NL pitcher. Pena has produced 160/181/200. The average NL pitcher has done 140/175/180. Aviles should be able to equal Pena' bats. I wouldn't be surprised to see him match the average AL SS production of 254/305/354 either. He was quite impressive in the Pacific Coast League before being recalled. 336/370/631 with 37 XBHs makes me very confident of that.
The Royals draw a tough assignment tonight on the road against Cliff Lee who has been remarkable this season even if his last couple starts have not lived-up to his first eight. Working for the Royals though, is an Indians line-up that has hit rookie Ben Francisco in the three-hole recently.
With Travis Hafner no longer a viable slugger (and on the D.L.), I wouldn't be surprised to see the losing streak end tonight. If the Royals connect it to replacing Pena, then better for them. If they connec tit to replacing Butler, then not so good.