If America needs one thing, it's a razor-sharp examination of some depth charts in flux in major league baseball.
Luckily for it (i.e. America), what follows is exactly that thing.
Regard, this week's edition of In Some Depth, some combination of large and/or in charge:
Team: Minnesota Twins
Position: Middle Infield
Players: Alexi Casilla, Tsuyoshi Nishioka
Notes: The Twins signed Tsuyoshi Nishioka to a three-year, $9 million contract this past offseason and, for reasons to which only Ron Gardenhire et al. are privy, was installed at second base while Alexi Casilla (a sub-par fielder at second base, probably) was slotted at short. It remains to be seen how exactly that situation would've worked out, as Nishioka broke his leg a week into the season. In any case, he returned last Thursday. To shortstop. While the same Alexi Casilla as above played second base. The lesson here is twofold: 1. Nishioka will likely qualify at shortstop in your league soon, if he hasn't already and 2. Ron Gardenhire is a mysterious gentleman.
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Position: First Base, Right Field
Players: Andrew Brown, Lance Berkman, Jon Jay, Albert Pujols
Notes: Provided Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch isn't a lying liarface, Albert Pujols not only injured his left wrist during Sunday's contest vs. the Royals, but will also receive an X-ray and MRI on Monday to determine the severity of said injury. Should he (i.e. Pujols, not Goold) miss time, the most likely replacement for him at first base is Lance Berkman. Which, obviously leaves a hole in right field. With Tony La Russa, there's no telling who, if anyone, would get regular work in right. The best guess is probably a platoon of some variety between Jon Jay and Andrew Brown.
Team: Seattle Mariners
Position: Second Base
Players: Dustin Ackley
Notes: Over the first 69 games of the Mariners season, Jack Wilson and Adam Kennedy combined to start 67 games at second base for the M's. Newly promoted Dustin Ackely has now started games 70-72 -- and will almost definitely start the vast majority of the Mariners' remaining games. The second-overall pick in the 2009 draft, Ackley has an advanced hitting approach that saw him slash .303/.421/.487 (.324 BABIP) in 331 Triple-A plate appearances this season and walk (55) more than he struck out (38). He may not be a fantasy sensation, on account of his game is more reliant on plate discipline than speed or power, but he should also be a solid option -- maybe something like Brian Roberts without all the steals.
Team: Atlanta Braves
Position: Left and Center Fields
Players: Nate McLouth, Martin Prado, Jordan Schafer
Notes: We covered the Braves outfield last week, but the respective returns of Jason Heyward (shoulder) and Nate McLouth (oblique) from the DL have changed the complexion of the Braves once again. For the time being, the most likely outfield is, from left to right, McLouth, Jordan Schafer and Heyward, as Martin Prado (staph infection) is still probably a couple weeks away from returning. Let it be known that the present author does not endorse Schafer as an outfield possibility even in rather deep league, owing to Schafer's difficulty with making contact. Let it also be known that the author possesses unreasonable hopes for newly promoted (and now) fourth outfielder Wilkin Ramirez, who's demonstrated an interesting blend of power and speed in his minor-league career, but who, like Schafer, doesn't always make-a the contact.
Team: Florida Marlins
Position: Center Field
Players: Chris Coghlan
Notes: You might very well remember him as Chris Coghlan, Rookie of the Year, but as of press time he's Chris Coghlan, New Orleans Zephyr. The Zephyrs, as you undoubtedly know, are the Triple-A affiliate of the Marlins, and Coghlan was sent Zephyr-ward last week after slashing .230/.296/.368 (.263 BABIP) in his first 298 plate appearances of the season. Whether the demotion is fair -- that's one question. Our concern for the moment is what effect it has on the Marlins depth chart. For the time being, the effect is that DeWayne Wise and Emilio Bonifacio will form a platoon in center. Wise, the strong side of the platoon, is a considerably better fantasy player than he is real-live one, having gone 30-for-36 in just over a season's worth of plate appearances and hitting the occasional home run while demonstrating little knowledge of the strike zone. Wise will be around as long as it take Coghlan to prove once again that he belongs in the majors (or until the Marlins realize he's better than DeWayne Wise).
Team: Florida Marlins
Position: Jerky Management
Players: Owner Jeffrey Loria, President David Samson
Notes: As of Monday morning, the Marlins have lost 10 in a row and are 1-18 in June. They fired their hitting coach John Mallee a little over a week ago, and Sunday saw manager Edwin Rodriguez submit his resignation. Amidst all that, upper management has involved itself in Logan Morrison's affairs, suggesting that he "Think before he Tweet" or something to that effect. It's nigh impossible to measure the effects of such turmoil on the Marlin players -- if there is one at all -- but, generally speaking, a supportive and open workplace creates more productive employees than a back-biting and paranoid one.
Team: Boston Red Sox
Position: Left Field
Players: Carl Crawford, Josh Reddick
Notes: Crawford, who was removed from last Friday's game with a strained left hamstring, was placed on the diasbled list the very next day. In the move corresponding to Crawford's disabling, the Red Sox recalled 24-year-old outfield Josh Reddick from Triple-A Pawtucket. As a left-handed batter, Reddick is likely to form the strong side of a platoon with either Mike Cameron or Darnell McDonald. Reddick's an interesting case, actually. Though the Triple-A line of .230/.333/.508 isn't over-the-top impressive, Reddick managed it (i.e. that line) with just a .207 BABIP. More striking is the degree to which the young outfielder has increased his walk rate, from 5.2 percent last year in Triple-A to 14.3 percent this year so far. There are still some weakness here -- including a slightly elevated strikeout rate -- but he could be someone to consider in deeper leagues.
Team: Boston Red Sox
Players: Jed Lowrie, Marco Scutaro
Notes: Given Jed Lowrie's hot start, it might be difficult to believe that he's actually batting just .270/.319/.403 (.314 BABIP) as of press time. Even as recently as June 1, Lowrie was batting .305/.352/.451 (.353 BABIP). Some of that is likely BABIP regression making itself felt. On the other hand, Lowrie's apparently been dealing with a sore shoulder for about a month or so. It's that same shoulder which has sent him to the 15-day DL now, leaving Marco Scutaro with the starting shortstop job. Scutaro's actually been the better hitter overall at this point, slashing .282/.351/.369 (.292 BABIP), if in about a hundred fewer plate appearances. That line is about what one can expect from Scutaro going forward -- for about two weeks, if not longer.
Team: Cleveland Indians
Position: First Base
Players: Matt LaPorta
Notes: Cleveland's starting first baseman Matt LaPorta was placed on the disabled list last Saturday with a high ankle sprain that could keep him out beyond the time when he's eligible to return. After a hot start that seemed to represent LaPorta finally living up to his prospect status, LaPorta went to the DL with a line of just .242/.309/.424 (.276 BABIP) -- i.e. not particularly great for a first baseman. Filling in for LePorta will likely be some combination of Jack Hannahan, Carlos Santana and the recently promoted Travis Buck. Probably the greatest boon here is for Carlos Santana owners, as more first-base starts for Santana means (a) more starts in general and (b) less wear and tear on the young catcher.
Team: New York Yankees
Players: Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez
Notes: You probably know that Derek Jeter was placed on the 15-day DL last week with a calf thing. You might also know that Eduardo Nunez is being given the bulk of playing time in Jeter's place. The question is: What's an Eduardo Nunez? Here's how the internet reveals that question:
-- The eighth-ranked prospect in the Yankees organization, per Baseball America's preseason rankings.
-- The seventh-ranked prospect in the organization, per FanGraphs version of that same thing.
-- Owner of defensive skills that should keep him at short.
-- A player who's unlikely to hit many more than eight or 10 homers per season in the majors.
-- A player who could very likely steal 20-plus bases annually.