PLAYING TIME: Drew moves to OAK

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Oakland acquires Drew from Arizona

In search of an offensive boost, Oakland is hoping they are buying low on Stephen Drew (SS, OAK), acquired Tuesday from Arizona.  Drew, who is a free agent at season's end, has had a very disappointing season.  After suffering a severe ankle fracture last July, he wasn't able to return until late June of this year.  Since then, Drew has hit just two home runs in 135 at-bats, and a 24% hit rate and career worst 74% contact rate have combined to result in a .192 batting average.  A low percentage of his fly balls are leaving the park again, a problem which won't be helped by his new home park, which reduces left-handed home runs by 27%.  While the long-awaited breakout may never come, Drew's line drive stroke is likely to result in a much higher batting average going forward.  Don't be surprised if he becomes a strong middle infield option for the stretch run.

Jemile Weeks (2B, OAK) has a 165 Spd score and 15 stolen bases, but has been held back by his inability to get on base.  He was sent down to Triple-A Sacramento, where he will likely be until rosters expand September 1.  A 10% walk rate and 0.74 Eye indicate some potential, but a 49 PX, along with a 26% hit rate, held Weeks back.  For now, he will work on his game in the minors, but he could be a strong stolen base source upon his return.

Cliff Pennington (SS, OAK), who is struggling himself this season, has lost his starting shortstop job, but may get a chance at second base.  He has never played there in the majors, but appeared in 56 games there in the minors, the last time coming in 2009  .  Pennington has gotten on base at just a .262 clip in 313 at-bats this season, and is just 6 for 29 since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. Despite struggling to get on base and a 90 Spd score, Pennington has stolen 13 bases on the year.  He will continue to be a decent speed source when in the lineup, but it's unclear at this point what his role will be.

Adam Rosales (2B, OAK) got the start August 21, and will continue to be in the mix at second base while Weeks is in the minors.  He has 67 home runs and an .835 OPS in just over 2,000 minor league at-bats, but hasn't done much at the big league level.  Rosales has just a .226/.299/.340 batting line in 627 major league at-bats, and looks like a long shot to earn a full-time role.

Scott activated from DL, Rodriguez to minors

Luke Scott (DH, TAM) was activated from the disabled list, and back in the lineup as the designated hitter August 21.  He continues to put up strong power numbers, as shown by his 12 home runs and 137 PX in 240 at-bats this year.  Scott has been victimized by a 25% hit rate for the second straight year, which has held him to a .225 batting average.  Throw in a career-low 6% walk rate, and his .268 on-base-percentage and .705 OPS are very low for a designated hitter.  Scott is likely to be in the lineup more often than not against right-handers, and his .264 xBA indicates he should improve in that area, despite the recent results.

To make room for Scott on the roster, Sean Rodriguez (SS, TAM) was optioned to Triple-A Durham.  Rodriguez continues to disappoint, as his power has dropped for the third straight year, down to an 81 PX.  Below average power and a mid-70s contact rate don't make for a strong combination, so despite his positional versatility, Rodriguez will likely spend the rest of the month in the minors.

Smith activated from DL

Seth Smith (OF, OAK) was activated from the disabled list, and back in the starting lineup August 21.  It has been a disappointing season so far, as both his contact rate (77%) and fly ball rate (38%) have dropped below his typical levels. Both his track record and his current .261 xBA suggest Smith should improve upon his current .237 batting average.  While he won't put up huge power numbers, especially in Oakland Coliseum, he continues to display consistent, above average power.  Smith should be a regular in the lineup against right-handers, and should be a decent power source, particularly if you can play the matchups with him.

The return of Smith will cut into the playing time of Jonny Gomes (OF, OAK), who is 0 for 10 with six strikeouts over his previous three starts.  Gomes has received 93 at-bats against right-handers this season, and while he has shown power against them, with five home runs, his 38 strikeouts show he can be exposed. 

Brandon Moss (1B, OAK) was absent from the August 21 lineup, and could be in danger of losing some at-bats as well.  He has appeared in 11 games in the outfield, and has shown mixed results offensively.  Moss has massive power, as shown by his 199 PX and 13 home runs in just 163 at-bats.  However, his 66% contact rate and 0.25 Eye have led to a sub-.300 on-base-percentage.  Those in need of power may not want to cut him loose, but his playing time situation bears watching.    

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Chacin returns to Rockie rotation

Jhoulys Chacin (RHP, COL) was activated from the disabled list, and made his first start since May 1.  Despite a 4.0 Ctl each of the past two seasons, he was able to post a sub-4.00 ERA in both campaigns, a very impressive feat for a pitcher that calls Coors Field home.  In 2010, it was a 9.0 Dom and 47% ground ball rate that helped Chacin pull it off, and while his Dom dipped to 7.0 last year, he made up for it with a 56% ground ball rate. 

The sample size was small before his injury, but in his five starts, Chacin's Ctl rose to 5.5, while his ground ball rate dropped to 41%.  The result was an ugly 7.30 ERA and 1.86 WHIP, though a 24% home run per fly ball rate certainly didn't help matters.  He has some upside, which owners are always looking for down the stretch.  However, his 4.7 Dom in five rehab appearances indicates taking a wait-and-see approach may be wise.  For now, nobody will lose their rotation spot, as the Rockies will employ a traditional five-man rotation.

Elmore, Bloomquist to handle shortstop duties in Arizona

Following the trade of Stephen Drew to Oakland, the Diamondbacks will count on some combination of Jake Elmore (SS, ARI) and Willie Bloomquist (SS, ARI) to man shortstop for the remainder of the season.  Elmore posted an incredible .442 on-base-percentage in 419 at-bats with Triple-A Reno, and stole 32 bases in 40 attempts.  He has very little power, but has shown outstanding plate discipline, with a 1.03 career Eye in the minors, including a 1.37 mark this year. 

Bloomquist is currently on the disabled list due to a sore back, but may return to action August 24, the first day he is eligible to do so.  Injuries to others have allowed him to amass 323 at-bats this season, and a 36% hit rate has helped lead to a .300 batting average.  Unfortunately, after stealing 20 bases a year ago, he has only seven steals this season.  While the 34-year-old's Spd score has risen to 148, he has only run on 20% of his attempts, and his success rate has dropped to an unacceptable 41%. 

While neither Elmore or Bloomquist have elite speed, each have the potential to be an intriguing stolen base source if they can find the at-bats.  Stay tuned to this situation, as it is difficult to predict how it will play out.  For now, our Arizona depth chart gives Elmore the edge.  

NL short takes

Johan Santana (LHP, NYM) underwent an MRI on his back, and will miss his upcoming start, which had previously been scheduled for August 23.  In 10 starts since his no-hitter, in which he threw 134 pitches, Santana has struggled mightily.  He has averaged less than five innings per start, while posting an 8.27 ERA and a 2.4 hr/9.  While his 7.9 Dom during that time is still respectable, there appears to be some concern with both his performance and his health.  Jenrry Mejia (RHP, NYM) is reportedly the top candidate to get the start in place of Santana.  However, despite his 2.75 ERA in 23 appearances (7 starts) in Triple-A, his 4.4 Dom and 1.3 Cmd are red flags...

Jacob Turner (RHP, MIA) will be recalled from Triple-A New Orleans to start a game in the August 22 doubleheader.  It remains to be seen if he will stick in the rotation or be sent back down, but there are reports that the Marlins could employ a six-man rotation.  Turner struggled in three starts with the Tigers earlier in the year, as he posted an 8.03 ERA and 1.0 Cmd in just 12 1/3 innings.  He has a solid 2.80 ERA in 15 Triple-A starts this year, but his 5.6 Dom and 1.6 Cmd suggest some growing pains in the short-term...


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.