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In Some Depth: Bird is the Word

Ryan Eisner

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

The end of August. The time of year when rosters are about to explode with guys you’ve never heard of, minds start drifting to the postseason, and fantasy sites turn their attention to fake football. It’s also a time to pay attention to small changes in team’s depth charts and lineup constructions, as every AB could matter at this point.

Without any further ado...

Yankees 1B

Starter: Mark Teixeira
Next: Greg Bird

Greg Bird landed in the Bronx to provide some days off for elder sluggers Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez as the season wore on. His services were needed sooner rather than later, as Teixeira sat out for over a week with a leg injury. Said injury resulted in seven straight starts for Bird, over which time he had a two-home run game. Still just 22, Bird is probably not ready for everyday duty in a playoff chase, but he could receive a few starts per week according to the original plan, spelling Teixeira at first and Rodriguez at DH.

Angels 3B

Starter: Kaleb Cowart
On the DL: Taylor Featherston, David Freese

Kaleb Cowart has the potential to be the feel good story of the last few months of the season. That is, if he could provide us with anything to feel good about. Cowart went from top-100 prospect, to a demotion to High-A, to the Majors in a span of about 18 months. He then went hitless through his first four MLB games, with six strikeouts in 13 at-bats, before hitting a home run in his fifth. He only has a little time to struggle, as David Freese (finger) has begun a rehab assignment at Triple-A Salt Lake.

Rangers 1B
Starter: Mitch Moreland
Next: Mike Napoli, Prince Fielder

Six-thirty-six. That’s what Mike Napoli has slugged since joining the Rangers. Of course, he only has 25 plate appearances and has started exclusively against left-handed starting pitchers since changing uniforms. However, that limited exposure should be good for his rate stats. He has a .618 OPS against right-handed pitchers this season, but a .924 against lefties. that leaves Mitch Moreland in against righties, who has hit 15 of his 18 home runs this season against pitchers of that handedness.

Phillies C
Starter: Cameron Rupp
Next: Carlos Ruiz

I have somehow overlooked this situation in the past few In Some Depth’s, but Carlos Ruiz has played second fiddle to Cameron Rupp in Philly for the past two months or so. Rupp has started five or four games per week to Ruiz’s three or two as the Phillies have started to look to a catcher 10 years younder than Ruiz. Rupp’s season-long stats have been nothing to boast about, but he has a .404 OBP and five home runs over the last 28 days (13 starts). The playing time should continue into September, as neither of the Phillies’ top catching prospects (Jorge Alfaro and Tommy Joseph) figure to make September appearances.

Padres CF
In the mix: Melvin Upton, Travis Jankowski

The Padres’ outfield has played host to some big names this season. Upton. Kemp. Myers. Upton. Jankowski? The Padres selected Travis Jankowski from Triple-A El Paso in the wake of the Will Venable deal, and he should split time with Melvin Upton in center field moving forward. Jankowski had an OPS of .959 prior to his recall, but El Paso’s offensive environment is a far cry from San Diego’s.

Reds No. 2

The Reds have turned to Eugenio Suarez as their No. 2 man for the past two weeks. He has taken a liking to the spot, slashing a cool .320/.382/.580 since his elevation from the bottom third of the order. The spot should hold, and he should be in position to score more runs hitting in front of Joey Votto, Todd Frazier, and Jay Bruce than he would have if he were still hitting in front of the spare parts that have been hitting eighth for the Reds.

Phillies No. 1

First the Phillies turned to Ben Revere to serve as their leadoff man. Then they traded him away. Next, the Phillies turned to Chase Utley as their leadoff man. Then they traded him away. Now Cesar Hernandez has another chance at the leadoff spot. They probably will not be trading him away.

Astros No. 2 and No. 4

Jed Lowrie as the cleanup man? Why not? Lowrie had been batting seventh and second prior to his placement on the disabled list earlier this season, but he has batted fourth for all but four games since he returned. Of course, he is slugging a meagre .314 in cleanup duty, so he may not be long for the spot. Alternatives could include Colby Rasmus, Chris Carter, and Evan Gattis.

Twins No. 1

Aaron Hicks’ hamstring injury brought Byron Buxton is back to the Twin Cities, and he he has also taken Hicks’ spot atop the Twins’ lineup. That’s a big change from Buxton’s previous stint with the Twins, wherein he hit ninth on most nights. An 0-for-6 in Sunday’s 10-inning affair dropped Buxton’s OPS to .524 in his four games back from the minors, but he could stick in the lineup post-Hicks’ return if he can start performing to his top-prospect potential.