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In Some Depth: Business As Usual

Carson Cistulli

Carson Cistulli writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

After previewing and, uh, post-viewing trade deadline implications over the past two weeks, In Some Depth returns to something like Business-as-Usual today.

Or, sorry: that should be Bidness-as-Usual.

Drink it in (in no kind of order whatsoever):

Team: New York Mets
Position: Middle Infield
Players: Daniel Murphy, Jose Reyes, Ruben Tejada
Notes: Had you tuned into Sunday's Braves-Mets game in the top of the eighth inning, you would have seen a strange thing -- namely, Met third baseman David Wright playing shortstop. How he ended up there is a sad and mysterious tale. Luckily, it's only two lines long. First, Jose Reyes left the game in the second inning with a stiff left hamstring. Next, Daniel Murphy -- who'd taken over second base after Justin Turner slid over to short -- left the game with a leg injury after getting all slid up on by Atlanta's Jose Constanza. Though nothing was official as of Sunday night, Ruben Tejada will almost definitely receive a promotion.

Team: Cincinnati Reds
Position: Left Field
Players: Yonder Alonso, Chris Heisey, David Sappelt
Notes: The recent trade of Jonny Gomes to Washington was made possible by the fact that the Reds possessed a glut of talent capable of playing left field. Chris Heisey was given the majority of starts there in the wake of Gomes' departure, but was placed on the DL Sunday with an oblique injury. Minor-leaguer, and not insignifcant prospect, David Sappelt was promoted to the majors in a corresponding move. Sappelt was slashing a not insignificant .313/.377/.458 (.339 BABIP) at Triple-A Louisville and is definitely the superior defender. How Dusty Baker ultimately chooses to utilize the pair, however, remains a mystery.

Team: Houston Astros
Position: Right Field
Players: Brian Bogusevic, J.B. Shuck
Notes: The departures of Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence -- along with the demotion of Brett Wallace to Triple-A, and the subsequent move of Carlos Lee to first base -- have created a pretty serious vacuum in the Houston outfield. J.D. Martinez and Jason Bourgeois appear to be the major beneficiaries of playing time in left and center field, respectively. Right field is less clear. Bogusevic has been around before, but Shuck is interesting. His plate discipline skills (52:29 BB:K in 391 PA at Triple-A this year) suggest that he could hit for average at the major-league level, but he has no power and has had rather poor stolen-base efficiency (61-for-99 career in the minors).

Team: San Diego Padres
Position: Third Base
Players: James Darnell?, Chase Headley
Notes: Headley fractured his left pinkie finger sliding into second base on Saturday. While he'll visit a specialist in San Diego on Monday, a non-specialist that Headley saw on the road Sunday said that he could miss four-to-six weeks. If Headley does, indeed, go down with injury, the best possible outcome for fantasy owners would be the promotion of James Darnell, who's slashed .317/.415/.573 between Double- and Triple-A, with almost as many walks as strikeouts (64:70 BB:K).

Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Position: Left Field
Players: Sam Fuld, Desmond Jennings
Notes: When last we cast a gaze at Desmond Jennings in this column, he had just been promoted and Joe Maddon was . As of Sunday, he's made 10 consecutive starts in left and is slashing .321/.415/.625 (.395 BABIP) in 67 plate appearances while going 6-for-8 in stole-base attempts. There's probably a little batted-ball luck there, but Jennings' performance so far is believable given both his pedigree and minor-league track record. Fuld's starts in left field are likely to be few and far between, barring an injury to the talented Jennings.

Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Position: Catcher
Players: Robinson Chirinos, Kelly Shoppach
Notes: I believe it was Confucius who said "On the topic of fantasy catchers, any offense is good offense." Actually, second thought, it was very likely Marcus Aurelius, from his Stoic masterpiece Meditations. In any case, for those starved offensively at the catcher spot, Chirinos is a possibility to consider. He's slashed .300/.378/.425 (.367 BABIP) in 45 plate appearances while getting something slightly larger than half of the starts in a timeshare with Kelly Shoppach. It's very possible, however, that the Rays will want to see how the 27-year-old handles himself before the injured John Jaso is ready to return in a couple weeks.

Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Position: Left Field
Players: Ryan Ludwick, Alex Presley, Jose Tabata
Notes: Buyers at the deadline, the Pirates' playoff chances seem to have dissolved almost soon as they materialized, with the team now a full 10 games behind Milwaukee. Though they didn't give up much, there is the question of how manager Clint Hurdle will handle left field going forward. Deadline-acquisition Ryan Ludwick is there for the time being. Alex Presley, who played rather well in the wake of Jose Tabata's injury, is a possibility to return this week. Tabata himself began a rehab assignment on Saturday at Triple-A Indianapolis. It's likely that Pittsburgh will look to develop their younger talent, so the best bet is on some combination of Presley and Tabata.

Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Position: Third Base
Players: Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie
Notes: It's telling that, 113 games into the season, no one player had started more than 40 (games, that is) at third base for the Blue Jays. That was Jayson Nix, and even he hadn't played there since June 27th. Nor, with the exception of Jose Bautista's 25 games had the team gotten any sort of offense out of the position. If all goes according to plan in Toronto, there should be more stability going forward from third, as prospect Brett Lawrie made his major-league debut this past Friday. Lawrie's minor-league numbers -- .353/.415/.661 (.383 BABIP) in 329 plate appearances -- are certainly aided by the run environment at Triple-A Las Vegas, the 21-year-old Lawrie was highly thought of entering the season, too. Expect him to see the majority of starts at third, with Jose Bautista moving back to right field.

Team: Kansas City Royals
Position: Second Base
Players: Chris Getz, Johnny Giavotella
Notes: Though less heralded than Brett Lawrie, Johnny Giavotella has controlled the strike zone more ably than Lawrie as a minor leaguer (192:212 BB:K) and hasn't had his most recent performance so utterly skewed by park factors. Ultimately, Giavotella lacks Lawrie's upside, but a more polished approach means he could he could be a better bet for the rest of 2011. In any case, as Rany Jazayerli notes, Giavotella's better than Chris Getz.

Team: Atlanta Braves
Position: Outfield Somewhere
Players: Jose Constanza
Notes: Because the Braves have Martin Prado, Michael Bourn, and Jason Heyward, there's little chance that Constanza will make a significant impact over the final one-plus months of the season. He's gotten some playing time of late as Chipper Jones has dealt with a quad injury, but only another DL stint for Chipper would give Constanza anything like starting time. That said, Constanza has displayed good contact skills at all levels and had 23 stolen bases before his recent promotion.