This article is part of our In Some Depth series.
Another week, another edition of In Some Depth. I took at look at weak links on playoff teams last week, but it's back to a tour of the league's depth chart for the current week.
Without any further ado...
Cody Asche returned from the disabled list Friday, and he immediately grabs the Phillies' starting third base gig. In other words, the Phillies were unable to find any other alternatives in his month on the disabled list. Reid Brignac filled in surprisingly well in Asche's stead, showing signs of 2010 with a .738 OPS, but he hit the disabled list with a rolled ankle. Maikel Franco was supposed to be a factor at some point this season, but his .209 average is among the worst in the International League. Things are not improving for Franco at Triple-A Lehigh Valley -- he owns a .168/.195/.271 slash line over his last 107 at-bats.
Hat tip to RotoWire's John Toperzer for bringing the Pirates' roster jam to my attention. Neil Walker will return from an appendectomy this week, which will bounce the surprisingly effective Josh Harrison from a regular spot in the lineup. Harrison has slashed .342/.409/.474 in 10 games since taking over for Walker at second, but obviously Walker will take over the keystone on a regular basis. There is no room for Harrison in the outfield now that Gregory Polanco is in Steel City, and Pedro Alvarez is not going anywhere even though he has only put up mortal power numbers to this point. So it looks like Harrison is bound for some sort of uber utility role.
I will give myself a little pat on the back for mentioning Panik's name in my "weak links" column last week. Second base has been an offensive hole for the Giants this season, so they have turned to their top pick from the 2011 draft. Panik showed little power or speed over his 410 minor league games, but he hardly strikes out (lifetime 9.8 percent strikeout rate), hits lefties well (.359 average against them in 72 plate appearances this season), and gets on base (.382 OBP this season). The Giants will likely play Panik as much as possible over the next month or so before deciding whether they need to look outside the organization to help at the position.
Yonder Alonso hit the disabled list late last week with wrist tendinitis, and it will be interesting to hear if the injury has had any role in his season-long struggles. Alonso should have been primed for a breakout in his age-27 season, and instead he was on a career-worst pace. Tommy Medica should be the primary man to step in at first while Alonso is out, and there is some promise with the .202 ISO he has hit in limited time this season. Yasmani Grandal should also nab some starts at first, and the Padres may throw a spare outfielder, like Seth Smith or Carlos Quentin, here from time to time.
Sponsored Note – $200 BONUS FOR ROTOWIRE READERS - MLB is back at FanDuel and RotoWire readers can receive a HUGE 100% deposit bonus up to $200. CLICK HERE
In Some Depth rarely covers teams' DH situations, but I decided to take a look at the Angels' situation this week, as teams do not typically slot their top rookies in the DH slot. That appears to be the case in Anaheim, where C.J. Cron took the reins from the recently released Raul Ibanez over the weekend. Cron came up through the system as an all-bat, no-glove prospect, and he showed off that bat with three home runs in the Angels' recent series against the Rangers. He will yield the spot to the likes of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton when they need reprieves from the field, but Cron should be able to slide over to first base on some of those occasions.
Norichika Aoki was placed on the disabled list over the weekend, which opens up the outfield for Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain to play side by side. Manager Ned Yost said he would go with the "hotter hand" between Dyson and Justin Maxwell for the third outfield slot, but odds are it will be Dyson. Dyson had been seeing an increase in playing time over the past two weeks or so, even before Aoki's injury. He has not successfully stolen a base since May 29, but he should stumble into a few as long as he continues to get on base at a career-best rate. Maxwell stumbled in a dozen games with the Royals earlier this season, but he had an .899 OPS at Triple-A Omaha (granted, against players that were an average of 3.3 years younger than himself).
With the Red Sox's infield back to full health, manager John Farrell has used a corner outfield spot to store Brock Holt's hot bat. Holt has continued to hit through the transition to the outfield, going 21-for-62 over his last 15 games. Daniel Nava has shown his better side since returning to the majors in early June, but he has hit a funk the past week or so. Shane Victorino could return from his back and hamstring injuries before the end of the week, which would crowd the corners a bit. It is not clear who will be the odd man out, but I would assume Holt sticks. Perhaps Jackie Bradley bites the dust?
Travis d'Arnaud is set to return to Flushing mid-week, which means the Mets face a choice at backup catcher (assuming they do not retain three catchers at the big league level). Anthony Recker has been the team's No. 2 for much of the season, but he has hit below .200 and still has options. Teagarden has also hit below .200, albeit in a smaller sample size, but he is out of options and would likely exit the organization should he be outrighted off the 25-man. The biggest implication of the latter would be the organization's No. 3 catcher would become prospect Kevin Plawecki, who has hit his way through the minors since being selected in the 2012 draft.