This week's edition of In Some Depth features quite a few observations about middle infield situations. I did not mean for it to happen that way, that's just the direction my eyes went this week.
Without any further ado, here are 10 interesting depth chart observations from around the league:
Starter: Wilson Betemit
Next: Steve Tolleson, Ryan Flaherty
The Orioles brought Wilson Betemit to serve as the club's DH, but he has instead gradually taken over at third. It was rare to see him start more than a handful of consecutive games earlier in the season, but he has now started 10 straight and 14 of the O's last 15. He is now two home runs shy of his career-high after Sunday's shot. Steve Tolleson and Ryan Flaherty each made a start at third during the month of July, but their services have been in greater demand at second base.
Starters: Omar Quintanilla, Ryan Flaherty
Next: Steve Tolleson
Injured: Brian Roberts, Robert Andino
The Orioles nabbed Omar Quintanilla over the weekend after the Mets DFA'd him last week. He was a something of a major cog in the middle infield for the Mets while guys like Ronny Cedeno and Ruben Tejada mired on the DL in June, but he got rostered out once those guys returned to action. He wound up posting a .350 OBP in 80 plate appearances for the Mets, which was respectable enough for a guy whose last taste of regular playing time came in 2008. Semi-regular playing time should be available in Baltimore, where he is expected to split second base responsibilities with Ryan Flaherty. Both Brian Roberts and Robert Andino should be out for a few more weeks.
Starters: Danny Espinosa, Steve Lombardozzi
Next: Mark DeRosa
Injured: Ian Desmond
Ian Desmond had been a model of durability the first several months of the season, starting 84 of the Nationals' first 85 games. However, a left oblique tear has put an end to that fantastic run, and the Nats' starting shortstop may now be out for a few weeks. The Nationals have thus far adapted to his absence by shifting Danny Espinosa a few feet to his left and plugging Steve Lombardozzi into the vacant second base slot. Lombardozzi cooled a bit in June, OPS'ing .467 in the month's 64 at-bats, but he has raised his batting average by eight points in July (although his OBP has fallen by five). There is not much help at Triple-A Syracuse (Mark Teahen anyone?) so it might take a second injury to break up this double-play duo.
Starters: Travis Snider, Colby Rasmus, Anthony Gose
Next: Rajai Davis
Injured: Jose Bautista
Jose Bautista's wrist injury provided the Jays with an impetus to overhaul two-thirds of their outfield. Travis Snider and Anthony Gose both came up from the minors after Bautista went down, with Gose supplanting the slumping Rajai Davis as the Jays' requisite speedster. Gose has the wheels to steal as many bases as any full-time major leaguer, but he needs to figure out how to get on base first. Snider has thus far replicated his video game-esque stats in a three-game sample size. And when I say he had video game-esque stats, I mean the former top-10 prospect had an OPS over 1.000 for Triple-A Las Vegas after two years of being lost in the wilderness. One of the two youngsters could stick in the outfield for good even after Bautista returns, and they have about a two-week window to prove their gusto.
White Sox Closer
First: Addison Reed
Next: Brett Myers, Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton
The apparent reasoning for moving Brett Myers from the rotation to the closer role at the beginning of the season was so he would yield a larger return in a mid-season trade. That plan came to fruition over the weekend when the White Sox acquired him for Matt Heidenreich, Blair Walters and a PTBNL (oh wait…). Manger Robin Ventura has stood by Addison Reed as his closer despite the trade, which means Myers should figure as an eighth inning guy. That being said, the bottom fell out of Reed's strikeout rate in June, and he no longer appears to be as infallible as he did early in the year. It would not be a surprise to see Myers close out a few games over the next few weeks/months, but Ventura may be cognizant of the option in Myers' contract that will kick in if he finishes 16 more games before the end of the season. Hector Santiago, whose screwball earned him the closer role out of camp, is bound for long relief.
Starters: Brandon Moss, Chris Carter
Next: Brandon Hicks, Daric Barton (Triple-A)
Manager Bob Melvin has used seven different players at first base this season, but he appears to have settled on a platoon of Brandon Moss (the left-handed component) and Chris Carter (the right-handed). Carter has started twice as many games as Moss since the All-Star break (six vs three), but the A's have also taken on three left-handed starters over that stretch. Carter always had major power in the minors (see 39 home runs as a 21-year-old in Stockton), and he already has five home runs in 44 plate appearances for the A's. That rate of one home run every 8.8 plate appearances beats out Moss' impressive pace of one every 11.5 plate appearances. Look for the platoon to continue unless one of them absolutely tears it up or absolutely breaks down.
Questionable: Erick Aybar (toe)
In the mix: Maicer Izturis, Jean Segura
The Angels' infield was thrown into flux Saturday when Erick Aybar fouled a ball off his big toe. The only thing that kept the Angels from placing him on the disabled list immediately was the fact that his toe was too swollen to get an accurate read on the x-ray. The Angels have already recalled top prospect Jean Segura, and I am not sure they would have made that move without being pessimistic on Aybar's outlook. If the Angels do place Aybar on the disabled list, then Segura should split SS AB's with Maicer Izturis. Segura got a brief taste of Triple-A back in 2009, but he has not seen a lick of action above Double-A since. He has the ability to steal a base or five when he plays. If healthy, Aybar could build on the .328/.373/.525 he had been working on over his last 122 at-bats.
Red Sox DH
In the mix: Pedro Ciriaco, Ryan Sweeney, Cody Ross, Daniel Nava, Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Injured: David Ortiz
With David Ortiz on the DL for the next two weeks or so, the Red Sox's DH slot should become a haven for position players recently displaced by returning stars. That means outfielders like Daniel Nava and Ryan Sweeney, whose playing time has been curtailed by the dual return of Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, should get a few cracks here. As should Pedro Ciriaco, who hit .452/.469/.548 in eight games at second while Dustin Pedroia was out. Ciriaco may be the man of choice against left-handed pitchers, and he could also slot at short when Mike Aviles needs a day off.
Starter: Everth Cabrera
Next: Alexi Amarista
Injured: Jason Bartlett
Everth Cabrera stole 25 bases as a rookie back in 2009, but leg injuries and an ineffective bat derailed him for the next two years. A 333/.389/.410 start to the 2012 season at Triple-A Tucson made him the next-in-line at short when Jason Bartlett went down in late-May, and Cabrera has now started at short in every Padre game since May 29 save six. The man can steal – he is a perfect 33-for-33 on the basepaths between San Diego and Tucson– but his .339 BABIP raises the question if his on-base ability is sustainable. There has been no news on Bartlett since the Padres transferred him to the 60-day DL in June, so he should not be a threat anytime soon.
In the mix: Ramon Santiago, Danny Worth, Ryan Raburn
It seems like the Tigers have been hunting for a second baseman ever since Placido Polanco departed after the 2009 season. No player started more than 55 games at the position in 2010 or 2011. Ramon Santiago, who has started 39 games at second in 2012 could buck that trend, but a 62 OPS+ may prevent that occurrence. Ryan Raburn has not made a start here since July 13, but Danny Worth has received an increased level of play since the All-Star break. Still, Worth has K'd in a third of his at-bats, and his .215 batting average is barely worse than Santigo's .216. The Tigers may be eyeing guys like the Cubs' Darwin Barney as the trade deadline approaches.