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In Some Depth: Brave New World

Ryan Eisner

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

In Some Depth took the All-Star week off, but our weekly tour of the league's depth charts continues this week. In particular, this week's edition focuses on a handful of playing time situations that have been dramatically altered by injury, and the teams have had to get creative in finding replacements.

Without any further ado...


Starter: B.J. Upton
Next: Jordan Schafer, Jason Heyward

The Braves jettisoned one highly-paid, low achiever this past week in Dan Uggla, leaving B.J. Upton as the highest-profile sub-replacement hitter on the squad. But while Uggla is now in San Francisco, Upton has hit leadoff for 21 of the Braves' last 23 games. Evan Gattis will take over behind the plate Monday, and Christian Bethancourt filled in capably during his three-week absence. It would not be unthinkable for Bethancourt to return later in the year, Gattis see some time at a corner outfield position, and Jason Heyward to bump Upton from from center. There has been no inclination yet that the Braves may try something like this (Gattis has yet to play the outfield in 2014 and Upton has started nearly 90 games in center), but it could certainly happen in a competitive NL East battle.


In the mix: Ramon Santiago, Kristopher Negron, Skip Schumaker
In the minors: Donnie Murphy, Ruben Gotay

Brandon Phillips is the second member of the left side of the Reds' infield to hit the disabled list for an extended period of time. However, unlike Joey Votto's absence, the Reds can not simply throw an extra outfielder or catcher at second base and solve the situation. Actually, they could throw Skip Schumaker there, but it appears as though they would prefer to roll with Ramon Santiago as the regular, Kristopher Negron as the second option, and play Schumaker there occasionally. Donnie Murphy and Ruben Gotay both have some experience in MLB infields, but the Reds appear to be in no rush to bring up either from Triple-A Louisville. Billy Hamilton played second base coming up in the Reds' organization, but my Google search for "Billy Hamilton second base" yielded no productive results. Hence, I would assume the Reds don't want to mess with him and shift him back to the infield.


Starter: J.P. Arencibia
Next: Robinson Chirinos, Chris Gimenez, Adam Rosales

In football, they say "when you have three starting quarterbacks, you really have no starting quarterbacks." In Texas, they say, "... when you have J.P. Arencibia as your starting first baseman, you really have no starting first basemen." The Rangers truly have no first basemen to start at the position. Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland are both out for the season, and Carlos Pena's career might be over after the Rangers DFA'd him last week. Arencibia could not OBP .200 during his first stint with the Rangers this season, but it is tough to ignore the 14 home runs he hit in fewer than 50 games for Triple-A Round Rock. Some may pine for Joey Gallo to get a shot in Arlington after the show he put on in the Futures Game, but he still needs quite a bit of development before he's ready for MLB pitchers.


In the mix: Tony Cruz, George Kottaras

Much like the loss of Phillips in Cincinnati, Yadier Molina's predicted two-month stay on the DL will leave a big emptiness in St. Louis. Tony Cruz has served as Molina's backup since 2011, and he likely gets first cracks at everyday duty given his familiarity with the pitching staff. However, he will come nowhere close to Molina's production with a bat, slashing .235/.280/.324 in limited action the past few seasons. The club picked up Greg Kottaras off waivers. Kottaras is something of an internet favorite thanks to his underrated on-base skills and framing repute, but it must mean something that he is now on his fifth organization in three years.


In the mix: Ike Davis, Gaby Sanchez

Get ready for a healthy dose of Gaby Sanchez in Pittsburgh. Manager Clint Hurdle sandwiched the All-Star break with a pair of Sanchez starts at first before the break and a trio in the first weekend back. The latter can be explained by the fact that the Pirates faced three lefties in their first second-half series and Ike Davis does poorly against lefties. However, Davis has been doing poorly against just about everybody lately. He has a .156 batting average and .044 ISO over his last 55 plate appearances, and he has not left the yard since June 9. Of course, Sanchez has not necessarily lit the world on fire (6-for-31 in July), so there may be a window open for Davis if he can rebound.

Min 1B

In the mix: Chris Parmelee, Chris Colabello, Kendrys Morales
On the DL: Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer moved to first base to avoid injury. Apparently there is more to staying healthy than just playing a less strenuous position, as Mauser has missed the past three weeks (and continues to miss time) with an oblique injury. In his place has been a fairly steady stream of Chris Parmelee and Chris Colabello, with some Kendrys Morales mixed in. Colabello already burned fantasy owner once this season with his early-season power mirage, and it should be noted that the Twins did not afford him much more playing time after he hit two home runs in his first three games back in the majors. Parmelee has yet to exhibit much power in July, and he has been splitting his time between first and right field. Mauer began some "light" baseball activities over the weekend, and his return remains TBD.


Starter: Chris Dickerson
Next: Mike Aviles, Ryan Raburn, Michael Brantley, Nick Swisher (?)

With Michael Bourn on the disabled list (once again) with hamstring issues, Michael Brantley has shifted from his usual left field spot to cover center field. This has allowed former Red/Brewer/Yankee/Oriole Chris Dickerson to see the majority of playing time in left, supplemented by Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn. Dickerson had a .407 OBP for Triple-A Indianapolis before the Indians acquired him. However, his successes in the major leagues have been limited, and it would not be surprising to see him off the roster once Bourn returns (date still TBD). Nyjer Morgan shone in Bourn's absence earlier this season, but he has been out since mid-May with a knee sprain. Curiously, Nick Swisher has not been permitted to re-enter the outfield all season.


Starter: Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Next: Shane Victorino, Brock Holt

If I could pick one word to associate with Jackie Bradley, Jr., it would be "perseverance." Bradley was supposed to start the year in a platoon with Grady Sizemore. Sizemore now plays in Philadelphia. Then it looked like he might lose playing time to Brock Holt's hot bat. Holt has not started in center since June 17. Then it looked like Bradley's cool bat might fall victim to Mookie Betts' promotion. Betts stole four starts before landing back at Triple-A Pawtucket. Bradley still has a 72 OPS+ on the season, but he has slashed .298/.344/.351 over the last month, which is more than enough given his stellar defense. With the Red Sox pretty much out of "it", I would think they would continue to feed him at-bats in the hopes that the bat will eventually catch up to the glove.