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In Some Depth: 10 Situations of Note

Carson Cistulli

Carson Cistulli writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Last week, I introduced what I hope will be a most helpful and readable column. This week, I put my proverbial money where my proverbial mouth is.

The form of In Some Depth might change, but the basic idea is to track those positions on the league's depth charts that present some interest to, and (hopefully) some value for, the fantasy owner.

Below are 10 situations of note, ordered entirely according to whim.

Team: Chicago Cubs
Position: Second Base
Players: Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney
Notes: Though Darwin Barney is very clearly an excellent name, Barney himself isn't necessarily an excellent baseball player. He has almost no power (Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projection system has him for two homers) and is likely to top out at 10 steals. That said, he (a) is capable of making contact and (b) has made seven consecutive starts at second base through play on Sunday. He's a pretty classic "bat control" guy that really has no business batting at the top of the lineup. But that's where he'll be till next week, at the very least.

Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Position: Left Field
Players: Willie Bloomquist, Gerardo Parra
Notes: I'm glad I don't have children, because I don't know how I'd explain this to them. Bloomquist got the start Sunday against Madison Bumgarner -- his third in a row in left. It's possible that coach Kirk Gibson is treating this as a strict platoon, which wouldn't be the worst thing -- if only because Parra isn't very good, either. Really, the ideal thing from a fantasy perspective is that neither of these guys'd be playing. Brandon Allen would likely be better for his power. Wily Mo Pena, owner of six homers through his first 30 Triple-A at-bats, is an intriguing possibility, too.

Team: New York Mets
Position: Second Base
Players: Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy
Notes: Emaus and Murphy have more or less split starts at second base over the last week. Emaus has hit terribly, slashing .176/.263/.176 (not inlcluding Sunday), but his minor-league track record paints him as a disciplined hitter who could reach double-digits in both home runs and stolen bases. Offensively, he's basically Darwin Barney plus 15 home runs. Murphy's not terrible, but his defense might ultimately preclude him from at-bats. Ultimately, if he's given time, Emaus will acquit himself. (Maybe.)

Team: Minnesota Twins
Position: Middle Infield
Players: Alexi Casilla, Michael Cuddyer, Luke Hughes, Matt Tolbert
Notes: The Twins are a mess for, like, 10 reasons right now. Joe Mauer's out. Francisco Liriano's velocity is down. Joe Nathan doesn't appear to be per-surgery Joe Nathan. And then there's this: the Twins' middle infield. A fractured fibula for Tsuyoshi Nishioka has created what will likely be too many ABs for Hughes and Tolbert. Contact is an issue for the former; everything related to offense, for the latter. Cuddyer gaining second-base eligibility (he's played four games already) is something to watch. Otherwise, everything's a mess. Nor is it likely that Trevor Plouffe's early .348/.407/.826 line at Triple-A represents any real advances in his true talent.

Team: Cleveland Indians
Position: First Base
Players: Matt LaPorta
Notes: Finally, a happy story. No other player is listed here, because early indications, uh, indicate that LaPorta has made sufficient gains to not squander the first-base job. The .250/.346/.477 he carried into Sunday, while not terrific, is still decent -- and maybe even a bit deflated, given the .265 BABIP. LaPorta's minor-league track record is still excellent at this point and something in the vicinity of .250/.350/.475 isn't impractical.

Team: Cleveland Indians
Position: Left and Center Field
Players: Michael Brantley, Travis Buck, Austin Kearns, Grady Sizemore
Notes: Grady Sizemore announced his return enthusiastically Sunday, hitting a homer and double in a Cleveland win. Before that game, Michael Brantley had started 13 of Cleveland's first 14 games in center, slashing .302/.367/.377 with two steals in three tries. Travis Buck and Austin Kearns, meanwhile, basically split left-field duties. With Sizemore back, Brantley will likely get the majority of starts -- against right-handers, at least -- while Buck and Kearns will make do with spot starts. Shelley Duncan will become even less relevant.

Team: Oakland A's
Position: Third Base
Players: Kevin Kouzmanoff, Andy LaRoche
Notes: Kouzmanoff slashed just .247/.283/.396 last season but played so well defensively that he still managed to grade out as a slightly above-average player. As of Sunday this year, the bat is even more dismal (.182/.188/.318, albeit with an impossibly low .179 BABIP) and the glove (four errors) is a problem, too. "Small sample" is the repsonse to both those things, but a decent start for Andy LaRoche has prompted manager Bob Geren to give the latter three of the last four starts at third. Really, neither Kouzmanoff nor LaRoche is any great shakes at this point. Coincidentally, infielders Adrian Cardenas, Jemile Weeks, Wes Timmons, and Steve Tolleson have all started well at Triple-A Sacramento. Timmons is interesting: he's 31, has posted OBPs of .394 or higher each of the last three seasons, and has never played a major-league game. He also stole 19 bases last year for Gwinnett.

Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Position: Right and Center Field
Players: Carlos Gomez, Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan
Notes: For some reason, Carlos Gomez -- owner of a .292 career on-base percentage -- has batted second exclusively this season. The center fielder has slashed .205/.250/.295 with a not crazy-low .258 BABIP. Whether that's enough for him to lose his job as one-and-only center fielder remains to be seen, but, when Corey Hart makes his return from injury -- likely on Sunday, April 24th, the ideal thing from a baseball perspective would be to platoon Gomez and Morgan. That'll limit the value of both players, obviously, but certainly make Gomez unrosterable in basically every format.

Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Position: Catcher
Players: Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder
Notes: Snyder returned from injury on Thursday, April 14th, and has (as of Monday morning) caught three of the last four games for Pirates. He's an average defensive catcher and is probably similar to Doumit offensively, as well. His average won't be as high (likely sitting in the .220s), but Snyder's power and patience are both superior to Doumit's. In the event that Doumit somehow ends up as an outfielder or first baseman, that'd be ideal, as he'll hold catcher eligibility.

Team: Washington Nationals
Position: Catcher
Players: Wilson Ramos, Ivan Rodriguez
Notes: The Nationals have a glut of catchers -- not just the two listed here, but Jesus Flores and (at Double-A) Derek Norris. Ramos and Rodriguez have almost split starts exactly -- eight to six, respectively -- although Ramos has started the last three as of Monday morning. Given his youth, Ramos is certainly the most interesting candidate right now for the starting spot. It remains to be seen, however, how Jim Riggleman will continue to divide catching duties among the three catchers he has on his roster.