Matthew Pouliot

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NL Notes: Coghlan's Downfall

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Marlins weren't going to fire Edwin Rodriguez. They couldn't bench Hanley Ramirez. They had no one they could use to replace Javier Vazquez or Chris Volstad.

So on Friday it was Chris Coghlan who got the heave-ho. He was demoted to Triple-A after hitting .230/.296/.368 in 269 at-bats this season.

And that's not a good line. However, Coghlan's struggles were strictly a result of him being horrible against lefties. Versus righties, he was hitting .278/.347/.454 in 194 at-bats, making him an above average regular about 70 percent of the time.

It'll be interesting to see how the Marlins intend to replace that. Emilio Bonifacio's OPS against right-handers is .652, 149 points lower than Coghlan's .801 mark. Veteran DeWayne Wise, who took Coghlan's spot on the roster, has a career OPS of .650 against right-handers (which is actually much better than his .588 mark against left-handers).

But the Marlins were 3-18 this month, so apparently someone had to go. And now the team is even worse off because of it.

At least it's only temporary. Coghlan will probably be back in two or three weeks, and maybe some low-pressure at-bats against lefties will do him some good. He certainly needs to be held on to in NL-only leagues. Maybe Wise will have a little short-term value in the meantime, but he really is pretty terrible.

National League notes

- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson named Juan Miranda his primary first baseman at the end of the spring, but he's obviously never really warmed up to the former Yankee. As of Friday, Miranda had started just 33 of the team's 70 games. The decision to release Russell Branyan seemed like just the break Miranda needed to solidify his job, but Gibson has recently gone to Xavier Nady more and more, even against right-handers.

It doesn't seem entirely fair. Miranda is hitting just .235 in 132 at-bats this season, but that comes with a .784 OPS. The NL league average for first baseman this year is a .795 OPS. Nady has just a .683 OPS in his 124 at-bats.

Furthermore, the Diamondbacks are 21-12 with Miranda in the lineup, compared to 17-20 the rest of the time.

Still, Miranda isn't anything special. He's 28, and he's never going to be anything more than a platoon player. So if Gibson isn't happy with him, the Diamondbacks should probably just move on now.

But who to move on to? 25-year-old Brandon Allen has been terrific in Triple-A, hitting .299/.421/.525. He came up last year and hit .267/.393/.400 in 45 at-bats down the stretch, and he really should have been given more consideration for a starting job this spring.

Then there's 23-year-old Paul Goldschmidt, the minor league home run leader with 21 bombs for Double-A Mobile. He is hitting a remarkable .338/.458/.667 in the Southern League.

It certainly wouldn't be very fair for the Diamondbacks to bypass Allen again. He has nothing left to prove in Triple-A, while Goldschmidt has yet to receive an at-bat at the level. Still, there has been more speculation lately that Goldschmidt could be the choice. Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers recently said that he could be added around the All-Star break.

Either way, Miranda's days with the Diamondbacks may be numbered. He's out of options, so it wouldn't be surprised to see him flipped for a possible bullpen arm at some point within the next few weeks.

- Charlie Blackmon stole bases in five straight games for the Rockies and is now getting talked up as the team's possible long-term leadoff man. That looks like a reach, though. Blackmon did hit .337/.393/.572 in Triple-A this year, but that was Colorado Springs and he was never nearly so exceptional previously. Plus, he's just not that fast, which is why the Rockies moved Carlos Gonzalez back to center field when they placed Dexter Fowler on the DL. Blackmon was a center fielder initially as a pro, but the Rockies switched him to right this year. I view Blackmon as a tweener: he doesn't quite have the glove for center or the power for a corner. He should be a nice fourth outfielder and a decent enough stopgap when he's needed to start regularly against right-handers. Since he has Coors Field working in his favor and he is running like crazy at the moment, it's worth trying him in mixed leagues. However, he probably won't have any lasting value. He's just a good basestealer, not a great one, with 31 successes in 43 attempts in 143 minor league games over the last two years.

- Ian Stewart is back in Triple-A Colorado Springs' lineup after missing time with a strained hamstring and is hitting .318 with five homers in 11 games this month. It isn't likely to happen next week, but the Rockies need to give him another chance sometime soon. Ty Wigginton is far from an ideal option as an everyday third baseman. Unless something changes between now and then, Eric Young Jr. will likely be sent down when Stewart returns.

- The Tommy Hanson injury news is scary, even if the Braves have indicated that there's no structural damage in his sore right shoulder. The hope is that he'll be back at the end of the month. With Brandon Beachy (oblique) not yet ready to return, the Braves called on Randall Delgado to make a spot start Friday. The plan was for Beachy to make one more rehab start next week, but that might be scratched now. Watch the news this weekend to see if he'll be worth activating in NL-only leagues this week. The 21-year-old Delgado doesn't figure to make more than one additional start regardless. He's a big-time talent, but he's probably at least a year away.

- With Jonathan Broxton (elbow) about to begin a rehab assignment, Hong-Chih Kuo (anxiety) ready to come off the DL and Vicente Padilla (neck) potentially done for the year, the Dodgers' closing situation is as interesting as ever. No one currently in the team's bullpen has more than one save and the Dodgers aren't carrying many leads into the ninth, so there's not really anyone there worth using in mixed leagues at the moment. It's hard to imagine the Dodgers rushing Kuo into save chances given that he's overcoming the yips, so it may well be Broxton's job to lose once he's ready to return.

- Perhaps Scott Rolen is finally poised to be useful in mixed leagues after a disappointing first two months. Although he missed some time recently with strep throat, he has six extra-base hits and eight RBI in his nine games this month.

- Homer Bailey (shoulder) was awfully shaky in both of his rehab starts for Triple-A Louisville. On Thursday, he allowed three runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. His velocity was just fine, according to reports, so the Reds might go ahead and activate him this week anyway. Still, the safe play for fantasy leaguers would be to keep him reserved.

- The Brewers aren't currently planning on putting Shaun Marcum on the DL with the left hip flexor strain he suffered Friday, but it looks like he could miss his start this week. Marco Estrada would be the favorite to fill in. Triple-A Nashville's Mark DiFelice is another possibility.

- Carlos Zambrano says he'll waive his no-trade clause, and with the Cubs seemingly unlikely to get back into contention, there is a pretty good chance he'll be moved this summer. All it should take is some team willing to take on most of the approx. $28 million he's due through the end of next year, a total that will shrink to about $24 million by the time the trade deadline rolls around.

The Yankees have often been linked to Zambrano, though concerns about how he'd handle New York -- also a reason why they didn't make a big offer for Zack Greinke over the winter -- still make them an unlikely suitor. Ryan Dempster could well be more to their liking. Texas would make sense, though the Rangers would probably want the Cubs to pick up quite a portion of that salary. That wouldn't be a bad idea for the Cubs, given that the Rangers have some intriguing young pitching to offer in return. He'd be a potential difference maker in the NL West for the Diamondbacks or Rockies, but neither of those teams figures to come up with the money.

- Darwin Barney's knee injury wasn't particularly bad news for the Cubs. He was no longer playing well enough to justify all of the at-bats he was getting, and the team is probably better off going with Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker at second base. Those two are both worth playing in NL-only leagues at the moment. DeWitt will get more starts, but Baker is the superior option anyway. Barney might not be back until after the All-Star break.

- Roy Oswalt is battling, but there's still no sign of his velocity returning to where it was at the start of the year and he looks like nothing more than an average pitcher right now. Mixed leaguers should think about sitting him when he doesn't have favorable matchups. His outing next week comes against St. Louis, so he's a mediocre play.

- The Astros are getting prepared to sell, but there isn't going to be a whole lot worth buying unless Hunter Pence is put up for bids. A casual mention of Brett Myers and Jeff Keppinger being available by's Bill Ladson started the rumor mill swirling Friday, but it shouldn't have been taken as big news. The Astros blew it by keeping Myers last summer and signing him to a two-year, $23 million extension. Unless he starts pitching better, no one is going to want to be on the hook for his $11 million salary next year. Keppinger has use as a nice bench player or a stopgap second baseman; he's very likely to be moved before the deadline. My guess is that Pence and Wandy Rodriguez will stay, but it's not a lock in either case.

- When the Astros do trade Keppinger, they'll likely give Matt Downs a try as a starting second baseman. Downs, who was claimed off waivers from the Giants last year, has been a pleasant surprise with a .280/.389/.547 line in 75 at-bats this season.

- I would bank on Dillon Gee's numbers starting to suffer against AL lineups over the next couple of weeks. He's done awfully well relying on cutters and changeups so far, but with no legitimate breaking ball to help with strikeouts, I'd still say he's likely a fourth starter at best. Mixed leaguers can take advantage of his start against the A's coming up, but I think he'll start fading soon.

- Jason Bay isn't really driving the ball with any authority at all, but he has shaken off a couple of benchings with five hits in his last three games. At least it makes him a better play in NL-only leagues.

- The Pirates are giving new acquisition Michael McKenry a look as a starting catcher with Chris Snyder (back) and Ryan Doumit (ankle) on the DL. He'll strike out too much to hit for average, but he does have a little pop, which should give him some short-term value in NL-only leagues. He's a better bet than Dusty Brown to help teams over the next few weeks.

- Some have wondered why the Pirates didn't call up former No. 1 pick Tony Sanchez instead of trying Brown and now McKenry behind the plate. Sanchez, though, is slugging just .337 in Double-A. He does have a decent .367 OBP, and his defense continues to draw nice reviews. Still, Double-A is where he belongs at the moment.

- The Padres gave up on Jorge Cantu just as the DH games were starting, deciding to try Jesus Guzman instead. Guzman, 27, was tearing up left-handed pitching in Triple-A and hitting .332/.423/.529 overall. He was viewed as a deep sleeper when he signed with the San Francisco prior to the 2009 season, but the Giants decided he was too much of a liability defensively to be of any use. The Padres had him playing mostly third base in Triple-A, with the occasional start in the outfield. It doesn't seem likely that he'll carve out a real niche during his time with the club.

- Orlando Hudson (groin) is expected to come off the disabled list on Sunday. Logan Forsythe will likely be sent down to make room.

- It doesn't bode well for Pat Burrell's chances of remaining a Giant that the team couldn't even find room for him in a DH lineup Friday against the A's. Unless he gets hot, he seems likely to be jettisoned when Brandon Belt comes off the DL, and right now, manager Bruce Bochy doesn't seem interested in even giving him the chance to heat up.

- There's a slight chance the Giants will get Mike Fontenot (groin) back before the end of the week. Belt (wrist) is likely two weeks away, and it appears that the plan is for Barry Zito to return to start one of the games in a doubleheader on June 28.

- The Cards got healthier with Matt Holliday and Kyle McClellan returning last week. Now both David Freese (hand) and Nick Punto (forearm) are set to begin rehab assignments this week. Punto will be back first, but that shouldn't matter much to fantasy leaguers. Freese is probably going to be activated right around the 1st of July, and he'll reclaim the third-base job from Daniel Descalso.

- It sounds like the Nationals' Rick Ankiel could go back on the disabled list with a strained intercostal muscle. Gregor Blanco has finally started hitting in Triple-A -- he's at .275/.408/.525 with four steals in 40 at-bats this month -- and he could soon get a look in center field. It may depend on whether Roger Bernadina's last four games are the start of a hot streak or just a mirage. He's gone 8-for-17 with two homers to raise his OPS from .628 to .706.

Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
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