In Some Depth: Super Utility

In Some Depth: Super Utility

This article is part of our In Some Depth series.

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...

Mets SS
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).

Nationals 2B
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.

Orioles LF/DH
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.

Cubs CF
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.

A's 1B
Starter: Stephen Vogt
Next: Brandon Moss, Nate Freiman

When one opportunity closes, Stephen Vogt seems capable of finding another. Last year, when the A's didn't have a catcher, he was their catcher. This year, when the A's needed help in the outfield, he was a semi-regular right fielder. Now that the outfield has added Sam Fuld, Jonny Gomes, and a healthy Josh Reddick, Vogt has found a steady stream of at-bats at first base. He was already seeing some time at first base before, but he has pretty much owned the position for the past month. That could change soon, however. He lit up July with a .357/.393/.571 line, but he has tumbled to .143/.189/.314 over his last 10 games. A prolonged slump could give more looks to All-Star Brandon Moss (who has also been seeing time in left field, en route to 23 home runs) and Nate Freiman.

Tigers CF
Starter: Rajai Davis
Next: Ezequiel Carrera

Outside of shortstop and left field, the Tigers have trotted out a fairly consistent lineup in 2014. This included center field prior to the trade deadline, where Austin Jackson started 97 of 105 contests before getting traded midway through the team's July 31 contest against the White Sox. Rajai Davis and Ezequiel Carrera were supposed to platoon in his stead, but the Tigers have instead gone with consistency. Carrera has gotten some buzz for his range in center, but that catch came in one of only three starts. Davis, on the other hand, has only been out of the lineup once since Jackson went west. He only has one steal on the month, but that could be because four of his 12 hits have gone for doubles, and he has rarely gotten on first without a runner ahead of him.

Indians SS
Starter: Jose Ramirez
Next: Zach Walters, Mike Aviles
In the minors: Francisco Lindor

It has pretty much been the Jose Ramirez show at shortstop in Cleveland since they traded Asdrubal Cabrera to the Nationals. Mike Aviles started the second game of the post-Cabrera era, but Ramirez has started the other 10. Ramirez has hit his first career home run since taking over at short full time, and the Indians seem perfectly content to let him struggle in the bottom-third of the lineup on an everyday basis. Zach Walters, the bounty of the Cabrera trade, could enter the picture if the Indians think he can provide more offensive production. Francisco Lindor's 16-for-77 (.208) start and 2-for-6 record on stolen base attempts so far at Triple-A Columbus should silence some of the chorus calling for his arrival. However, he still could be a factor at the position once rosters expand in September.

Rays 2B
In the mix: Logan Forsythe, Cole Figueroa, Ben Zobrist
In the minors: Nick Franklin

When healthy, Ben Zobrist was the Rays' starting second baseman for the better part of the first two months of the season. However, Logan Forsythe has taken on a more prominent role in the past six weeks, and the two have been in a strange, mix-and-match platoon with 27-year-old rookie Cole Figueroa for the past few weeks. Sean Rodriguez was involved for a while, but he has not started at the position in over a month. The platoon has not dampened Zobrist's playing time that much, as he can play elsewhere on the field, but other opportunities for Forsythe and Figueroa have been limited. Nick Franklin has slashed .194/.265/.355 at Triple-A Durham since arriving from Seattle, and he could be in the mix come September.

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