Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Manny Won't Be Manny

Sunday, July 07, 2013

The Rangers placed both Lance Berkman (hip) and Nick Tepesch (elbow) on the disabled list Sunday. The newly signed Manny Ramirez is no threat to come up and take Berkman's DH spot right now, so the Rangers will have to mix and match this week. It should mean more at-bats for Jurickson Profar, making him a decent play in mixed leagues.


The 41-year-old Ramirez was slated to make his organizational debut for Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday. He showed little power in Triple-A for the A's last year, but he managed eight homers while hitting .352/.422/.555 in 182 at-bats in Taiwan this year. That was probably against A-ball level competition, so it says little about what Ramirez may do back in the states.


Most likely, he won't do much. Even most Hall of Famers are done by age 41, and Ramirez is coming off a pair of lost seasons. A decent OBP mixed with middling power would be my prediction for him; something very close to Berkman's current .254/.355/.377 line. I'd certainly take a healthy Berkman over him, and I imagine the Rangers would as well. While AL-only leaguers can go ahead and grab Ramirez in the hopes that he'll get a long look at DH, he's only going to be worth a roster spot in mixed leagues if he gets off to a very hot start in Triple-A.


With Tepesch out of the mix, the Rangers are going to need a spot starter this week, maybe Josh Lindblom. Alexi Ogando (shoulder) didn't appear ready to rejoin the rotation while giving up three runs and two homers in two innings in his rehab start for Round Rock on Saturday. He'll rejoin the rotation after the All-Star break. If Tepesch can come back later this month, then Nate Grimm might be sent down to make room.


AL Notes (Rotoworld MLB news - Rotoworld on twitter - Matthew Pouliot on twitter)


- It stings that the Orioles gave up both Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop for three months of Scott Feldman. I did feel as though Arrieta's biggest value to the Orioles was as trade bait; he has third- or fourth-starter stuff, but he was really struggling to make any progress while pitching in the double whammy of the AL East and Camden Years. My problem is that Strop is much more than just a throw in, even if he's been more down than up this year. In Feldman, the Orioles get a starter who has thrown well, but one who has made more than 25 starts just once in his career and one who has a lifetime 4.84 ERA as an American League starting pitcher. I suspect that he'll wear down in August and September and that he'll stop producing mixed-league value.


- The Feldman acquisition makes it less likely that Kevin Gausman will get another look in the Baltimore rotation, but that's not such a bad thing. He's up to seven scoreless innings in three appearances since being moved to the pen. It's not going to be his long-term role, but he could be a real asset in relief for the rest of this season with his fastball up to 95-98 mph.


- Wei-Yin Chen will rejoin Baltimore's rotation early in the week, facing Texas. AL-only leaguers may want to keep him reserved for that matchup. Zach Britton will likely be bumped from the rotation.


- I still don't have any major concerns about Jim Johnson. If he blows another couple of saves before the break, the Orioles could consider going to Tommy Hunter for a little while. I don't think that will prove necessary, though.


- With Lyle Overbay down to .244/.291/.424 on the season, the Yankees plucked first baseman Travis Ishikawa off waivers from the Orioles on Sunday. The 29-year-old Ishikawa upped his stock by hitting .316/.413/.525 in 177 at-bats for Triple-A Norfolk this year, but he went 2-for-17 with eight strikeouts in his time with the Orioles. I'm not really a fan, but there's a good chance he'll outhit Overbay the rest of the way given the chance. He's worth adding in AL-only leagues. If he gets off to a hot start, then the Yankees could trade Overbay to an NL team wanting a veteran presence/pinch-hitter.


- The Yankees could have kept Michael Pineda on his rehab assignment a little while longer, but why let him collect service time if you don't have to? They officially optioned him to Triple-A on Sunday, and he'll make at least a couple of more starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before any thought is given to adding him to the rotation. Pineda allowed two runs in five innings and struck out seven Saturday in his first start for the RailRiders after four at lower levels. In all, he has a 2.82 ERA and a 22/10 K/BB ratio in 22 1/3 innings. Pineda will have to pitch his way back into the Yankees rotation, and it may be a tough assignment if Ivan Nova can turn in a couple of encore performances. Nova's improvement could also result in David Phelps (forearm) returning as a reliever at the end of the month.


- I thought the White Sox should have promoted catcher Josh Phegley on June 1. Then he had his weakest month of the season in Triple-A, while Tyler Flowers had his best month in the majors. Nevertheless, Phegley got the call last week and kicked off his career by driving in two in his debut Friday and homering his second start Sunday. Flowers is probably a better hitter than he's shown thus far, but Phegley seems to have the edge on him both offensively and defensively. While the early word is that the two will split time, expect Phegley to emerge as the starter. Perhaps both will see some DH action in addition if the White Sox start selling.


- The White Sox should also give Brent Morel ample time at third base in the second half in order to determine if he should be in their plans for 2014. He has more upside than either Jeff Keppinger or Conor Gillespie.


- The Jays are expected to get Brett Lawrie back sometime this week after a six-week absence due to an ankle sprain. Munenori Kawasaki will be probably be sent back to the minors. The alternative would be to designate the very disappointing Emilio Bonifacio for assignment and attempt to trade him, but that's unlikely to happen before Melky Cabrera returns.


- Just when it seemed Mark Reynolds couldn't go any lower, he opened July 0-for-16 with 10 strikeouts. The Indians have stood by him and waited for him to recapture April form, but at this point, what they really need to do is make up some injury for him and get him at least a week's worth of at-bats in the minors. Releasing him seems an unlikely option, as they don't have anyone in Triple-A banging down the door. Jeremy Hermida, at .245/.375/.442, is the only player on the Columbus roster with an .800 OPS this year.


- Oliver Perez notched a save on Friday, but it looks like Tom Wilhelmsen has worked his way back into the closer's role for the Mariners. He's pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and no walks, in his last six appearances. The Mariners might end up trading Perez this month anyway. He's a free agent at season's end, and he's probably going to hold out for a multiyear contract this time around.


- Erasmo Ramirez hasn't pitched as well in his last few starts for Triple-A Tacoma as he did in his first few, but it's high time the Mariners call him up and have him replace Jeremy Bonderman in the rotation.


- Michael Morse (quad) figures to return during the second half of the week. Once it happens, Michael Saunders is probably off to Triple-A to regain his swing.


- In general, I'd recommend being skeptical of pitchers trying to come back after two months off due to shoulder woes. David Price, however, has looked flat-out awesome in his first two starts back. It seems the Rays' cautious approach paid off, and he may well be a top-10 SP the rest of the way.


- With just one quality start in his last four tries, Luis Mendoza has put his spot in the Kansas City rotation in jeopardy. Ideally, Danny Duffy would be back from Tommy John surgery to claim it. However, he has a 5.88 ERA in his six Triple-A outings to date. Top prospect Yordano Ventura, with a 5.16 ERA since moving up to Triple-A, also isn't ready. The Royals could pull Bruce Chen out of the pen to buy some time as they continue to investigate the trade market.


- The Twins might also be looking for a rotation replacement with Scott Diamond getting lit up again Sunday. Vance Worley has been less than outstanding in Triple-A, amassing a 3.88 ERA and a 34/17 K/BB ratio in 58 innings, but he'd seem to be Minnesota's best alternative. Pedro Hernandez is the other option.


- While Astros prospect Jonathan Singleton has struggled in 22 games since moving up to Triple-A Oklahoma City, teammate George Springer is tearing the cover off the ball for his new team, hitting .378/.477/.730 with four homers and four steals in 11 games. It has come with 12 strikeouts, and he's now fanned 108 times in 84 games over the course of the season. I don't believe he's going to be ready to succeed in the majors this year, but if this keeps up, the Astros will have a tough time denying him a shot in center field. There aren't many better power-speed combinations in the minors.



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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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