This article is part of our In Some Depth series.
It's August. We are now into the season's fifth month, and past a major roster milestone (the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline). As a result, more rosters should be shifting thanks to waiver trades and the quickly-approaching September expansion. The past week also saw some big injuries that have expelled some stars for the rest of the year.
Without any further ado...
J.P. Arencibia has five home runs in 16 games since taking over the team's regular first base gig, but he has done little else besides. He has a good-for-him 300 OBP, and the advanced metrics do not love his glove at first (albeit in a small sample size). Still, he plodded along as the team's regular first baseman since the Rangers didn't really have anyone equal or better to slot there. That changed somewhat Sunday, as the club claimed former-Mariner, former-Red Sox Mike Carp off waivers. Carp slugged .279 in 103 plate appearances for Boston this season, but he is only a few months removed from a 140 OPS+ campaign in 2013. I would think some power returns in the August Arlington air, and regular playing time can be had if he can play better than Arencibia.
The trade deadline has come and gone, and the first-place Brewers have decided to push forward with the Lyle Overbay-Mark Reynolds combination at first base. Reynolds' .210 ISO keeps him employed, but Overbay has four home runs on the season and has experienced his worst season at the plate in terms of OPS+ (80). The Brewers did not pick up a first baseman on the trade market, but they did acquire outfielder Gerardo Parra, who should serve as a capable corner guy next to Carlos Gomez in the outfield. This could allow the Brewers to play Ryan Braun and/or Khris Davis at first base on occasion, even just as a late-game sub. There has not been any sort of communication from the Brewers to this effect, but it would not surprise me if it does happen.
Red Sox SS
The Red Sox's outfield may be getting some attention in recent days with their trades bringing Allen Craig and Yoenis Cespedes into an already-crowded arrangement.. But the team's shortstop situation is also in transition in the wake of Stephen Drew's departure. Xander Bogaerts takes back the reins as the team's No. 1 here, with Brock Holt backing him up. I would like to point out that Bogaerts hit .290/.380/.415 as the team's everyday shortstop before Drew arrived, versus .182/.217/.300 in 170 at-bats while serving as the team's third baseman. There may have been other factors that led to Bogaerts' swoon during that six-week stretch, and he did slug .500 over his last 12 games at third base. Still, there should be no more defensive surprises for the remainder of the season, and I would assume he sticks at short for the foreseeable future.
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The Asdrubal Cabrera era came to an end in Cleveland last week. He barely held a .300 OBP prior to his trade to Washington, and his defense at short had not been far from good for years. Mike Aviles and Jose Ramirez should platoon for the immediate future, with the edge going to Ramirez given Aviles' duties elsewhere in the infield and outfield. Of course, now all eyes are on Francisco Lindor at Triple-A Columbus. Lindor is hitting .250 since his promotion to Triple-A a few weeks ago, but he is also OPS'ing .736 as a 20-year-old. As in, he can not legally drink a Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold, yet he is kind of holding his own at Triple-A. It is hard to envision a scenario in which he doesn't get a call-up, even to sit on the bench in September.
The Cubs announced Monday that they will call up Baez to join the big club Tuesday in Colorado. Emilio Bonifacio is in Atlanta, Darwin Barney is in Los Angeles, and Luis Valbuena has a pretty firm hold on third base now that Mike Olt is in the minors. Baez swatted 37 homers in the minors between High-A and Double-A last season, and has slashed .260/.323/.510 with 23 homers, 80 RBI and 16 steals at Triple-A Iowa in 2014. The addition of Baez likely bumps Arismendy Alcantara to center field. Alcantara has struck out in roughly a quarter of his plate appearances (23.7 percent entering Sunday), but manager Rick Renteria has held him firm in the leadoff spot.
A year ago, Brad Miller and Nick Franklin looked to the be middle infield of the future in Seattle. Now, Franklin is in the AL East and Miller is ceding time at shortstop to the heretofore unknown Chris Taylor. Taylor got the call on July 24, and he has started six of the Mariners' 10 games since. Miller has had a season-long sophomore slump, and his batting average fell back below the .200 mark after his 0-fer Sunday. Taylor, meanwhile, had a .894 OPS and 21 percent K-rate at Triple-A Tacoma (his first season at the level). Miller is still probably the shortstop of the future, but it would hardly be surprising to see the Mariners go with the hot hand as they battle for one of the American League's two Wild Card slots.
Yonder Alonso returned from the disabled list last week, and he has since gone 5-for-19 in his six starts. Tommy Medica, meanwhile, banged out five hits Saturday. Alonso remains the starter, but it looks like manager Bud Black will sub in Medica (and Yasmani Grandal) when the Padres face left-handed starting pitchers. Alonso has yet to make good on his former prospect status through three years as the Padres' primary guy at first, slugging .396 in Petco since 2012. And he is already starting to enter the wrong side of the aging curve, with his 28th birthday just after Opening Day 2015. There are no real sluggers coming through the organization to challenge him at first, but Grandal could start to see an increasing amount of time here in future years if his injury problems persist.
Much ink - both digital and - has been spilled decrying Ryan Howard's performance this season. I do not intend to use this space to pile on further, nor do I intend to pile on further. I would, however, point out that Howard remains the starting first baseman for the Phillies, and that should not change anytime soon. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has shown no inclination to simply release Howard from his contract, and there is not a guy on the roster who could replace him on a regular basis. Darin Ruf gets some attention for the 12 home runs he hit in the second half of 2013, but those people also forget that he had a 34 percent strikeout rate in 2013. A 27-year-old, position-less, strikeout-happy guy profiles more as a Quad-A player than Howard's ouster.