It's mid-August, which means much of the casual sporting world has shifted its attention to fake football games. However, there are still some interesting storylines present in the baseball depth charts, where the the ramifications from the July 31 trade deadline are becoming a bit more solid and the September roster shakeups are only a few weeks away.
Without any further ado...
Starter: Wilmer Flores
Next: Ruben Tejada
The Mets decided over the weekend to get younger at shortstop and turn the Ruben Tejada/Wilmer Flores platoon into a featured role for Flores. Tejada is no aged vet (he's still just 24), but he has yet to post an OPS+ above 97 in the parts of five seasons he has manned the middle of the Mets' infield. Flores has killed it at Triple-A Las Vegas the past two seasons (.321/.360/.543 in 704 plate appearances), but his defense (or lack thereof) will probably hurt the team's infield defense. Additionally, it is worth noting that he will be making the move from one of the best Triple-A ballparks for hitters to one of the best MLB ballparks for pitchers. Even if he struggles, there is no reason that he should not get a full audition for the rest of 2014 (and even to start 2015).
Starter: Asdrubal Cabrera
Next: Danny Espinosa, Kevin Frandsen, Anthony Rendon
Danny Espinosa hasn't necessarily been the Nationals' favorite player for the past two seasons, so it should be of no surprise that they have plugged in Asdrubal Cabrera as much as possible since they acquired him at the deadline. Cabrera has started eight of 10 games at second since arriving August 1, which means his lack of significant experience on that side of the infield is not an issue. Cabrera's slash line has actually gone down since switching teams, which is an impressive feat after a less-than-stellar showing in Cleveland, but the Nats have faced a string of reasonably strong starting pitchers since he arrived.
In the mix: Nelson Cruz, Delmon Young, David Lough, Steve Pearce
Suddenly, Delmon Young has become relevant in the Orioles' lineup. Or at least more relevant than he was previously. Young has started seven of the team's first 10 games to open August . To provide some perspective, he only started 25 games for the entire first half (and he was healthy the entire time). For now, he and Nelson Cruz appear to be in a balanced timeshare between left and DH, with an infrequent appearance by David Lough in left. Steve Pearce appears to be on the outs for the moment after spending much of July as a regular.
Starter: Arismendy Alcantara
Next: Ryan Sweeney, Chris Coghlan, Junior Lake
Last week, I wrote a nice paragraph about how the Cubs would give probably Arismendy Alcantara a good audition down the stretch to see if he could become the team's second baseman of the future, and the other elite middle infielders in the system would probably have to wait until 2015 for a call-up. Not 12 hours later, Derek Van iper informed me that he edited the column to reflect the fact that Javier Baez was on the way up. But while Baez has displaced Alcantara from the infield, he is not completely gone from the lineup. In fact, Alcantara has served as the club's starting center fielder in each game since Baez's arrival. His defense has been OK in the early-going, but one has to wonder if the defensive adjustment has taken his focus away from his work at the plate (3-for-23 since the switch). Junior Lake has been missing from the starting lineup since Aug. 2.