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In Some Depth: Bet on Mookie

Ryan Eisner

Ryan Eisner

Ryan has been writing for Rotowire since 2007. He currently writes about baseball and covers the White Sox.

And just like that, there is only a month and change left in the regular season. Some MLB rosters will be turned upside down next week when the September call-ups get promoted (some were covered last week), but there has been some movement on the league's depth charts in recent weeks.

Without any further ado...

White Sox 2B
Starter: Carlos Sanchez
Next: Leury Garcia
In the minors: Marcus Semien

Gordon Beckham's six-year run with the White Sox came to an end last week when he was dealt to the Angels for cash or a player to be named later. Will Carlos Sanchez take his place for the next six years? He should at least have the next six weeks. Sanchez has served as the team's starting second baseman for each of his first three games with the club. He's a contact hitter with little power and efficient, but not elite, speed, and he should benefit from hitting between Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu. Leury Garcia saw the first start at second of the post-Beckham era, but he has not started since and he has been a minor factor all season. Marcus Semien was the team's starting second baseman earlier this season while Beckham was on the DL, but he has played much more at shortstop and in the outfield at Triple-A Charlotte. He should be in the mix come the September roster expansion, but it should remain the Sanchez show for now.

Reds 1B
Starter: Brayan Pena
Next: Todd Frazier, Jack Hannahan
On the DL: Joey Votto

Joey Votto has not been seen ‘round these parts in months, and it does not sound like he will return from his quadriceps injury when eligible on September 4. Given the Reds' minute playoff chances, it would not be a surprise to see him call it an early winter to ensure he is closer to 100 percent come Opening Day 2015. Brayan Pena has played more games at first than catcher this season, and he could eclipse Votto's total if he remains the team's primary first baseman through September. That could happen, given the team's limited options at the position. Todd Frazier has been playing a bit here, but he has no reason to leave third base more than a few times a week. Neftali Soto should come up from Triple-A Louisville in September, but there isn't really anyone in the Reds' minor league system worth an extended look.

Pirates 1B
In the mix: Gaby Sanchez, Ike Davis, Pedro Alvarez
In the Minors: Tony Sanchez

The Pirates' early-season trade for Ike Davis has yielded little fruit. His .350 OBP ranks third on the team (behind Andrew McCutchen and Russell Martin), but he's slugged a meager .368 and he has hit .195 in the month of August. As such, he has yielded an increasing number of starts to Gaby Sanchez, and as of this past weekend, Pedro Alvarez. The Alvarez situation may be the most interesting, as his placement at first allows the Pirates to play both him and Josh Harrison simultaneously (Alvarez at first and Harrison at third). Sometimes-catcher Tony Sanchez has been playing some first base at Triple-A Indianapolis, but he is also slugging an unimpressive .418 in his age-26 season (his third season at the level). He should be up next week, but it's doubtful that he'll see more than one start per week.

Padres 1B
Starter: Jake Goebbert
Next: Tommy Medica
Out for the season: Yonder Alonso

The Padres lost Yonder Alonso for the season since he was last discussed in In Some Depth a few weeks ago. The loss is somewhat tragic, as he slashed .421/.477/.737 in between his two DL stints, but such is life for the Padres in 2014. Tommy Medica seemed like the obvious on-roster replacement at first base, but the team has instead used Jake Goebbert as their primary first baseman. Goebbert had a .996 OPS at Triple-A El Paso in 200-ish plate appearances in the Padres system, but that figure is not all that striking for a 26-year-old in the PCL. Still, the job should primarily be his for the next few weeks, especially with Kyle Blanks unlikely to return in 2014.



Rangers C
Starter: Robinson Chirinos
Next: Tomas Telis, J.P. Arencibia

The Rangers traded away not one, but two, catchers this past week. Chris Gimenez should now see time in place of the concussed Yan Gomes in Cleveland, and Geovany Soto should help fill in for John Jaso in Oakland. That leaves Robinson Chirinos as the most talented backstop in Arlington, as has been his station for much of the season. The freshly-recalled Tomas Telis got his first MLB start Monday, and he should see a handful of starts down the stretch after a career year between Double- and Triple-A. J.P. Arencibia is still on the depth chart, but he has not played catcher since mid-May, and the Rangers appear happy to leave him at first base/DH.

Royals DH
Starter: Josh Willingham
Next: Billy Butler, Raul Ibanez

Josh Willingham has taken over the Royals' DH slot since moving down I-35, and his 1.028 OPS through his first 11 games has kept him in that role over Raul Ibanez on most nights. Ibanez has snuck in a pair of starts since Willingham's arrival, but he will probably play a bigger role in the clubhouse than on the field in the season's final month. Billy Butler may be back in the DH picture in September if/when Eric Hosmer returns from the DL, but Willingham should continue to receive a steady flow of at-bats if he can hit (which Hosmer hasn't been able to do this season).

Red Sox CF
Starter: Mookie Betts
Next: Brock Holt
In the minors: Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Just like 2013, Jackie Bradley entered the season with high expectations, only to be sent to Triple-A Pawtucket because he could not hit. Unlike 2013, the Red Sox have an alternative in top prospect Mookie Betts ready to play center field. Betts flamed out in a brief audition earlier this season, but he has been one of the better hitters in the minor leagues over the past 1.5 years. He should get the next 1.5 months to prove he can do so in the majors. He has a .400 OBP over his first 10 games since re-joining the Red Sox, and there is no reason to believe he will lose a starting outfield spot when Bradley inevitably re-joins the club September 1.

Blue Jays 3B
In the mix: Juan Francisco, Danny Valencia
Next: Munenori Kawasaki, Steve Tolleson
On the DL: Brett Lawrie

Danny Valencia was initially in a platoon with Juan Francisco at first base when he joined the Blue Jays at the end of July, but the pair have moved over to the other side of the diamond since both Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion returned to the active roster. There has not been any apparent rhyme or reason to the platoon, other than Valencia gets the nod over the left-handed Francisco against left-handed starting pitchers. The move has pushed Munenori Kawasaki back to the middle of the infield. This should be a fairly stable situation until Brett Lawrie returns (if Brett Lawrie returns) in mid-September.
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