June 25, 2012
Second, Short, and Catcher for 6/25/12
Last week, I was hopeful Devin Mesoraco (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 0%, CBS 23%) was on his way to shaking full blown shared catcher duties with Ryan Hanigan. This week, I'm less confident. In the Reds’ last seven games, Mesoraco has started three times, and Hanigan has started four. In his three games started, Mesoraco recorded two hits in nine at-bats with one hit being a double and the other a single. In Hanigan's four starts, he was better, recording four hits in 14 at-bats, adding two walks for good measure. Mesoraco remains a desirable option to own in long-term keeper leagues, but each week that passes in which he fails to impress he looks less desirable to own in redraft leagues. His talent and upside make him watch-list worthy, but beyond that, he shouldn't be owned in most leagues.
My decision to include someone else as this week's AL-only VP has forced Cliff Pennington (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 2%, CBS 14%) to the departures section. His speed still makes him an ownable option in AL-only leagues, but a 2-for-16 week at the dish gets him the boot in most other leagues.
Owned in more than half of ESPN leagues, we bid adieu to Yunel Escobar (Yahoo! 44%, ESPN 51%, CBS 61%) for the right reason. He didn't light the world on fire last week, but he continues to hit line drives at a high rate while making contact often. Don't let Escobar's season line fool you; he's better than this.
Hanging on by a Thread
The return of Salvador Perez (Yahoo! 11%, ESPN 7%, CBS 32%) to the Royals lineup provided an immediate boost, as he went 2-for-4 with a dinger in his season debut on Friday. He added another hit on Sunday in four at-bats after sitting out Saturday's contest against the Cardinals. The Royals are nearly certain to give Perez plenty of routine days off, but when he's in the lineup, expect him to perform like a top-flight second catcher in two-backstop leagues.
A timetable has finally been set for Stephen Drew (Yahoo! 22%, ESPN 16%, CBS 42%), and the Diamondbacks are expected to activate him from the disabled list on Wednesday. His usage in the field will largely be determined by how his ankle responds to playing on a day-to-day basis. The team is preparing Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald (both of whom filled in for Drew at shortstop this year) for utility roles, each taking groundballs at third recently. Ryan Roberts has struggled to duplicate last year's breakout campaign and may end up ceding time to Bloomquist and McDonald if Drew proves he's able to play every day. That should alleviate some concern that Bloomquist's passable start to the year may result in Drew sitting more often than he otherwise would. The long and short of it is that Drew is a more talented player than any of the trio of Bloomquist, McDonald, and Roberts, and if he's healthy and playing up to his capabilities, he'll be on the diamond as often as he can handle shortstop duties.
Last Call... For Real This Time
The Angels, as a whole, got off to a slow start, and Erick Aybar (Yahoo! 35%, ESPN 35%, CBS 46%) wasn't spared. Mike Trout is now firmly entrenched as the team's leadoff hitter, meaning that Aybar is slotting in the lower third of the Angels order, primarily hitting eighth. Hitting lower in the order will result in fewer plate appearances for Aybar, but he's squeezing near-maximum value out of them in the last 30 days. In that time span, he's hitting a healthy .305/.353/.442. He understands his game is predicated on speed and has legged out four infield singles while and successfully bunting for a hit seven of eight times in the last month. He won't hit for much power, and last year's 10 home runs look like an outlier, but he should help owners in runs, average, and stolen bases.
Hitting directly in front of the number nine hitter (often a light-hitting catcher) isn't ideal, but being on base when the lineup turns over should prove fruitful for his runs scored totals. He stole 30 bases last year and, most importantly, did so efficiently. This year he has just five stolen bases, but once again, he has been efficient, getting caught stealing only one time. Manager Mike Scioscia is notorious for his propensity to send baserunners. According to The Bill James Handbook 2012, Scioscia ranked fifth amongst American League managers in stolen base attempts in 2011 and seventh in all of Major League Baseball. He may be reluctant to send Aybar with the team's best hitters at the plate, but if he continues to be efficient, there is no reason to believe he won't net 20-25 stolen bases by year's end. Aybar isn't good enough to start at shortstop in mixed leagues, but he's a fine middle infield option and an AL-only shortstop option.
Unlike some catchers, Norris isn't a slug. He stole 13 bases last year and was up to five this season before getting the call-up. Sharing catching duties with Suzuki and adjusting to big league pitching limits Norris' value to AL-only leagues for the time being, but his power is enough to put him on the radar. That power was on display on Sunday when he lifted the A's to a win over the interleague rival Giants with a three-run homer off of Santiago Casilla.