Another week, another In Some Depth. This week could get a bit more exciting if/when trades occur prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and as we've seen in previous years, the madness should continue into August as a few more teams drop out of the Wild Card race. But for now, it's just our regular tour of the league's depth charts.
St. Louis C
Without any further ado...
In the mix: Ryan Goins, Munenori Kawasaki
Next: Steve Tolleson, Danny Valencia
On the DL: Brett Lawrie
Ryan Goins got the call from Triple-A Buffalo last week, and he has started six of seven games, with Munenori Kawasaki covering third for the quickly-declining Juan Francisco. Goins struggled in his early-season stint with the Jays, but he hit .285 with respectable contact numbers in 79 games for Buffalo. He certainly isn't the second coming of Edgardo Alfonzo, but he could probably suffer as a mid-.200s batter with limited pop. Kawasaki could move back here after the Blue Jays acquired third baseman Danny Valencia on Monday. Brett Lawrie is more likely to play third base than second when he returns from the DL at a date that is still TBD. The freshly-acquired Valencia played some second base for KC, but that is not his natural position and he shouldn't see more than the occasional start there. This position could also change in the next few days if the Jays continue their activity on the trade market (and there is an available second baseman to acquire).
New York Yankees C
In the mix: Brian McCann, Francisco Cervelli
Brian McCann played some first base over the past week while Mark Teixeira nursed a back injury, which led to Francisco Cervelli making a string of starts behind the plate. Teixeira is slated to return to first base Tuesday, but “Teixeira” and “healthy” haven't necessarily been used frequently in the same sentence in recent years. Even if he is “healthy,” Carlos Beltran should return to the outfield soon, which would open up the DH slot for Teixeira, the first base spot for McCann, and catcher for Cervelli. That is a lot of hypothetical “if's,” but a lot of things can happen with this aged roster. J.R. Murphy should return from Triple-A Scranton when rosters expand in September.
Kansas City 1B
Starter: Eric Hosmer
Next: Billy Butler, Raul Ibanez
Eric Hosmer sat out much of the past week with a sore hand, so Billy Butler and Raul Ibanez received a few looks in the infield. Butler's appearance on July 21 marked the time someone other than Eric Hosmer started at first base for the Royals this season. That fact is a bit surprising, given that Hosmer is slugging .383 with a 93 OPS+. It is not clear if Hosmer's hand injury is DL-able, but the Royals could “rest” him a bit more down the stretch if they feel like they need to really push for a Wild Card spot (and they feel freeing up the DH slot for a spare outfielder will give them a better shot to win). Butler is the most suitable candidate to play first in Hosmer's stead, but Ibanez could also see time here if the Royals' man-crush persists (and he can push his OBP above its current .244).
Starter: Ben Paulsen
Next: Charlie Culberson, Kyle Parker
On the mend: Justin Morneau
Ben Paulsen finally got the call to join the big league club early last week after spending six years in the minors. He had a .904 OPS at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but that should not be too eye-popping for a man in his age-26 season at Triple-A Colorado Springs. He has hit well in his first week in the big leagues (he has a hit in each of his first seven games with four doubles), and he has had the great gift of spending his first MLB at-bats at Coors Field. However, Justin Morneau (neck) does not appear to be long for the DL, and his return should bump Paulsen from the roster. The two can't coexist in the lineup thanks to the lack of a DH, but there is the possibility that Paulsen sees some time in left field if the Rockies deal one (or more) of their outfielders to a playoff-bound team. Kyle Parker has received all of nine at-bats since joining the club in early July.
In the mix: A.J. Pierzynski
, Tony Cruz
On the DL: Yadier Molina
The Cardinals' catching situation was covered in last week's In Some Depth
. Since then, poor George Kottaras
was released from yet another organization, and the Cards brought A.J. Pierzynski
into the fold. Pierzynski was less-than-great in his half-season with the Red Sox, but he presents an offensive upgrade over eternal backup Tony Cruz
. Manager Mike Matheny suggested Cruz will not entirely disappear from the Cards' catching situation
, and that would make sense considering he is more familiar with the team's pitchers. However, Pierzynski started his first two games in a Cardinals uniform, and his glove just has to be better than Cruz's bat. Yadier Molina
should be back at some point in September, and the timing of his arrival (after the Sept. 1 roster expansion) should allow the Cardinals to carry more than two catchers from that point on.
San Francisco 1B
In the mix: Buster Posey
, Adam Duvall
, Joaquin Arias
Next: Mike Morse
On the DL: Brandon Belt
hit the disabled list last week with post-concussion symptoms. He is reportedly doing better, but this kind of thing has the potential to last longer than one might think. At the very least, he has not proven himself to be the most durable this season. Adam Duvall
has seen the majority of playing time over the past week in Belt's stead, with a solid dose of Buster Posey
and Mike Morse
waiting in the wings. Duvall slugged .626 with 26 home runs at Triple-A Fresno before his call-up, but he was also a 25-year-old in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, so don't call him Joey Gallo
just yet. Still, his power could play off the bench in the season's final months. Even if he gets demoted when Belt returns, Duvall is a very good bet for a September recall.
Starter: David Peralta
Next: Ender Inciarte
, Gerardo Parra
emerged as the Diamondbacks' next hot outfielder after injuries befell their other left field options. He OPS'd .828 from the first week of June to the first week of July while finding a steady source of playing time in the sandwich of A.J. Pollock
's placement on the DL and Mark Trumbo
's return. The playing time did not end for Peralta with Trubmo's return from the DL - he just moved to center, where he has played six of the Diamondbacks' last 11 games. He is a good bet to cede starts to Ender Inciarte
or Gerardo Parra
against a left-handed starting pitcher, but his hitting against right-handed pitchers has not been affected by the defensive change. Inciarte's stock takes a bit of a hit, as he is now the clear No. 2 here after spending the past five weeks as the team's center fielder and misplaced leadoff hitter.
San Diego 2B/3B
In the mix: Jedd Gyorko
, Yangervis Solarte
Next: Chris Nelson
The Padres' second base situation has been bad this season. Real bad. The seven men to play here this season have combined for a .494 OPS on the season, and anyone to play more than 20 at-bats here has a sub-.200 batting average. Jedd Gyorko
flopped from last year's 24-home run campaign into a guy who barely got on base in one-fifth of his 221 plate appearances before hitting the DL in June (plantar fasciitis). The newly-acquired Yangervis Solarte
started five consecutive games at second for the Padres, but he moved to third Monday when Gyorko returned from the disabled list. He should continue to see time at second, and other spots in the infield, even with Gyorko back in the picture.
In the mix: Danny Espinosa
, Zach Walters
, Kevin Frandsen
With Ryan Zimmerman
on the disabled list with a (substantial?) hamstring injury, second base is open season only a few weeks after everything looked settled. Stellar sophomore Anthony Rendon
will move his 120 OPS+ back to the other side of the infield, and manager Matt Williams
does not seem willing to hand second base back over to Danny Espinsoa on a full-time basis. In fact, Espinosa has only started three of the first five games in the new Nationals' infield, with the other two starts going to Zach Walters
and Kevin Frandsen
. Espinosa has struck out at an outstanding 33.9 percent this season (higher even than his career 28.1 percent), while the former shortstop Walters hit .300 with 15 home runs through 60 games at Triple-A Syracuse.