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In Some Depth: Running Away With the Job

Ryan Eisner

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

It is kind of hard to believe, but we are already a month into the season. That's pretty frightening for my 16th-ranked Steak League team, but it also means we are starting to see some real action on the depth charts. Players who couldn't hit the ground running are now (or soon) in the running for a demotion to the minors, while some of those early-season surprises may be gaining a firmer grasp on the everyday job.

Without any further ado...

Red Sox CF
Starter: Jackie Bradley Jr
Next: Grady Sizemore, Shane Victorino

Grady Sizemore may have won the Red Sox's starting center field job out of camp thanks to his bat, but his legs/glove quickly cost him that job. Sizemore was once a Gold Glover at the position, but he no longer has the same kind of defensive range after a few surgeries and a few years out of baseball. Bradley has started 17 of the Red Sox's last 18 games in center, while Sizemore has been relegated to backing up the corner spots. Shane Victorino returned to the outfield this past week, and he could see some time in center if the Sox want to up their offense.

Yankees 3B
In the mix: Yangervis Solarte, Kelly Johnson

Yangervis Solarte found his way onto the Yankees' infield when injuries ravaged the team in the season's first few weeks, and his bat has kept him in the lineup on a regular least for now. Solarte's bat has cooled considerably over the past week (2-for-20, but four walks to three strikeouts), though he still appears to be the preferred option most nights to Kelly Johnson. Johnson has only seen a handful of plate appearances since Mark Teixeira's return displaced him from first base last week. Solarte and Johnson will likely settle into a platoon of sorts, though both excel against right-handed pitchers relative to left-handed ones.

Royals CF
Starters: Justin Maxwell, Jarrod Dyson
Injured: Lorenzo Cain

Lorenzo Cain (groin) should return from the disabled list this week, but would you be surprised if he lands on the DL again this season (or more than once again this season)? Cain has played all of 194 games in his four seasons with the Royals, so I might anticipate another lengthy absence at some point. Justin Maxwell and Jarrod Dyson have technically platooned in center in Cain's absence, but Maxwell's only real stretch of playing time came when Dyson was away from the team. Dyson also has the advantage in that he can hit for a better average than Maxwell and he is really good at stealing bases (his career 86 percent success rate ranks sixth among active players). His legs lend value even when Cain does return.

Rangers C
Starter: Robinson Chirinos
Next: J.P. Arencibia
Injured: Geovany Soto

A few weeks ago, I wrote that the Rangers did not want to play J.P. Arencibia at catcher, but they were stuck playing J.P. Arencibia at catcher because their only other healthy alternative was Robinson Chirinos. Well it looks like manager Ron Washington is willing to take that option, as Chirinos has started nine of the Rangers' last 12 games. Chirinos does not do anything special with the bat, but at least his bat is in the lineup, while Arencibia's sub-.100 average is on the bench (and potentially headed to the minors).

Padres C
Starters: Yasmani Grandal, Nick Hundley, Rene Rivera

Teams generally shy away from keeping three catchers on the active roster for any extended period of time. It is even rarer to see teams give all three catchers playing time, which is exactly what manager Bud Black is doing in San Diego. Black has been running through a catcher rotation of Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, and Nick Hundley (in that order) since April 12. Grandal (.699 OPS in 38 at-bats) and Hundley (1.000 in 21) have far out-hit Rivera (.367 in 24), but Rivera continues to get the call every third day. Rumor has it Hundley is
on the trade block, but the value of all three will continue to be suppressed for as long as all three receive regular reps. As the saying goes, when you have three catchers, you really have no catchers.

Giants 2B
Starter: Brandon Hicks
Next: Joaquin Arias, Ehire Adrianza
Injured: Marco Scutaro

Brandon Hicks hit a game-winning home run for the Giants on Sunday, which made me realize that Brandon Hicks is the starting second baseman for the Giants. Marco Scutaro's (back) indefinite stay on the disabled list has left the Giants with little at the position. Hicks appears to be the guy here after starting 15 of the team's first 25 games -- Ehire Adrianza and Joaquin Arias have been lucky to get a start or two each per week.

Cardinals 2B
Starter: Mark Ellis
Next: Daniel Descalso
In the minors: Kolten Wong

Of course I started to write about the Cardinals' second base situation right before they optioned Kolten Wong to Triple-A Memphis. Mark Ellis came off the disabled list on April 15, and he had been eating into Wong's playing time since. Wong's 2-for-24 performance since that April 15 date made it harder for manager Mike Matheny to not go to Ellis more often, including four of the team's last eight games. Of course, Ellis has only gone 2-for-20 over that stretch, so Daniel Descalso (oy) has received a few spare starts at second. I would expect Wong to be back in St. Louis as soon as he can right his swing in Memphis.

Cubs 2B
In the mix: Darwin Barney, Emilio Bonifacio, Luis Valbuena
In the minors: Javier Baez

For the past few seasons, Darwin Barney's nearly flawless glove was enough to keep his very-flawed bat in the Cubs' lineup. The same cannot be said for 2014, as Emilio Bonifacio has made just one fewer start at the keystone than Barney (11 versus 10). Luis Valbuena has also been a presence here the past few games after it was inevitably decided that Mike Olt should man third on a regular basis. Javier Baez's stay on the minor league disabled list for an ankle injury did not last long, and he should be in the Chicago infield at some point this summer. His presence could be bad news for Barney and Valbuena.