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February 28, 2013
Depth Chart Woes
Welcome one and all to my first Mets-less iteration of the Rumor Roundup! Today we’ve got two injuries that illuminate each team’s lack of depth, one starter that may be on the move, and a heartwarming return to the mound to top it all off. Onward…
Phil Hughes Could Miss the Start of the Season; Damon Rebuffed by Yankees
The talk from Hughes indicates the injury isn’t too serious, but fanning the flames somewhat is the controversy du jour in Yankee camp: per George King, Joba Chamberlain wants to be a starter again, but also says he’d be fine with closing. However, according to manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman, it ain’t gonna happen—Cashman’s fantastic response: “We are also down an outfield bat right now. See if he can play center.” Should Hughes suffer a setback, however, the Yankees may want to consider changing their tune rather than turning to David Phelps (whom they clearly don’t trust) or handing the fourth spot to Ivan Nova (who doesn’t seem to deserve so much trust).
Elsewhere in Yankeeland, I suppose you have to give Johnny Damon credit for being the guy who would’ve been most surprised if the Yankees had wanted to bring him in to replace the injured Curtis Granderson. But that didn’t stop him from submitting his CV; in a follow-up to Dan Rathman’s post on Monday, Cashman called Damon a “great Yankee” but, per Mark Feinsand at the Daily News, flatly denied any interest in signing him in Granderson’s absence.
Cashman went on to say, “It’s the same reason we didn’t bring him in last year. We need somebody who can play the outfield every day.” Then again, the Yankees signed Raul Ibanez last year. That Cashman cited defensive ability in choosing Ibanez over Damon may be telling of what most of us are probably thinking, that Damon just can’t be a big-league regular anymore. Interestingly, though, neither the Daily News story (linked above) nor any other story I found on the subject even mentioned the word “retirement.”
And why should Damon retire? He was 3-for-7 in World Baseball Classic Qualification for Thailand. What more does the guy have to do?
The Dodgers Will Probably Trade a Starter
Mattingly went on to say, “To me he’s more of a guy that paints. He keeps you in the game. He’s just not that guy that’s going in and overpower [sic] you.” Which is such a lovely way of saying you think he’s the worst of your eight starters. Following his manager’s comments, Harang promptly went out and gave up four runs on five hits and a walk in his first inning of work.
Harang would be an interesting trade piece in July, when numerous teams seeking the second wild card might feel a solid-average starter might help them limp over the line. But neither Harang nor any of the other Dodgers starters has minor-league options; this is going to come to a head quickly. Teams like Arizona, St. Louis, Atlanta, or even Texas figure to be in the hunt but could use some back-end rotation depth; could Harang be the answer?
Will Middlebrooks’ Injury Highlights Boston’s Infield Depth Woes
The obvious replacement is Pedro Ciriaco, who might be one of the all-time slam dunk regression candidates. (PECOTA pegs him at .265/.280/.364, but if PECOTA knew just how many popups he fisted over the first baseman’s head, it wouldn’t have been so kind.) The Ciriaco problem is much like the Jose Iglesias problem, in that putting him at third base negates his defensive value. Compounding the issue is that Boston’s Opening Day lineup also features Stephen Drew, who has missed a combined 159 games over the last two seasons.
There are plenty of other qualified candidates who’ve filled this role in the past—er, there used to be, anyway. Here is a full list of all other players that filled the left side of the Boston (or Triple-A Pawtucket) infield in 2012: 1) Kevin Youkilis (traded to CHW); 2) Nick Punto (traded to LAD); 3) Danny Valencia (signed with Baltimore); 4) Mike Aviles (traded to Toronto; now with Cleveland); 5) Mauro Gomez (is still here! Is also a natural first baseman); 6) Ivan De Jesus (traded to Pittsburgh); 7) Andy LaRoche (signed with Toronto); 8) Mike Rivera (is still here! Is also 36 years old with no big-league experience); 9) Ryan Dent (who has a career 637 minor-league OPS).
In return for those six departures, Boston brought in only Brock Holt, a natural second baseman who has never played a professional game at third base. I haven’t seen any rumors suggesting another move in the near term, but this seems like a situation to keep an eye on in midsummer. PECOTA has the AL East as a close four-team race, and if the Red Sox find themselves jockeying for position, it might be worth their while to bring in an established name to shore up the situation. If they don’t, and Ciriaco flames out while either Drew or Middlebrooks hits the DL, Boston may have to prepare itself for the Ryan Dent show.