PLAYING TIME: Simmons hits DL in ATL


Simmons down in ATL

The Braves placed Andrelton Simmons (SS, ATL) on the 15-day DL Monday with a broken right pinkie finger that is expected to keep his hand in a cast for four weeks. Beyond this timeframe, we have no expected return-date for Simmons, who doesn't appear to be in any danger of losing his starting job during this absence. The 22-year-old has played good defense and been able to parlay an 88% ct% into a surprisingly good .296/.341/.452 slash line, despite showing only average power and speed metrics and owning just 171 AB above the A+ level. Simmons' BA is supported by a .285 xBA.

Not so for the man whose job he took over in June, Tyler Pastornicky (SS, ATL). But while defensive issues were the final straw in Pastornicky's demotion, he was unable to generate much offense either. With 81% ct%, a poor 4% bb% and less power than Simmons, Pastornicky's .602 OPS over his first 145 MLB AB left no reason for the Braves to keep him in Atlanta. His age (22), a 125 Spd and career 77% SB% in the minors suggests that there's talent and time to develop it, but Pastornicky's short-term outlook and AB project as very iffy.

Pastornicky will likely take Simmons's roster spot, but if his defense doesn't improve, he could find himself in a interim SS timeshare with the unrosterable (.415 OPS in 69 AB) Jack WIlson (SS, ATL). Don't be surprised to see contending ATL look for another stopgap SS option prior to the July 31 trading deadline.

SD auditions middle infielders

SD has finally gotten offense from its middle infielders in the post Bartlett-and-Hudson Era, but the playing time on any given night is still uncertain. Alex Amarista (2B/SS/OF, SD) and Everth Cabrera (SS/2B, SD) have been playing SS and 2B since their mid-May call-ups, joined shortly afterward by Logan Forsythe (2B, SD) following his return from the DL in early June. How do their performances compare and what can we expect based on their respective histories?

2012      AB    BA    xBA  bb%  ct%  h%    PX   HR  Spd  SB
====      ===   ===   ===  ===  ===  ===   ===  ==  ===  ==
Amarista  110  .273  .303   4%  87%  28%   112   4  123   3   
Cabrera   155  .239  .243  10%  69%  33%    97   2  111  15   
Forsythe   86  .302  .281   8%  80%  36%    88   2  145   3   

Amarista's small-sample HR power looks like fool's gold, given a 14% hr/f, his inability to approach double-digit HR during his minor league career, and the fact that all of his HR have been in friendly venues outside of PETCO. But Amarista did surprise scouts with his pop in the Venezuelan League (8 HR in 222 AB) and again in spring training, suggesting that a complete dismissal at age 23 is a mistake. Still, his game is more a combination of contact and doing everything else—apart from being patient—reasonably well. Amarista's versatility and unspectacular defense point to a utility player whose PT stretches will always depend on immediate performance.

Currently working on a streak of 30 successful SB attempts between SD and AAA Tucson, Cabrera's running game is the most attractive fantasy skill on the board above. But his speed is at least offset by poor contact and power—his current PX at an all-time high in a small sample—and Cabrera appears to be too dependent on patience to unlock his offensive value. His SS defense has improved over 2009, but even as the only potential regular SS in this group, the 2012 fielding metrics suggest that he's barely above average.

Forsythe's h% and an unsustainable 33% LD% are the predominant reasons for his early success. The 25-year-old has shown sub-par power over his minor league career (23 HR over 1123 AB), where 17 SB was a seasonal high. His MLB skills to date don't scream "long-term starting 2B."

To further muddle matters at 2B, prospect Jed Gyorko is currently riding a .343/.386/.605 line after 210 AB in AAA Tucson, suggesting that his likely late-season audition could reduce the number of MI AB available even further. The bottom line is that even though they've been productive to date, none of the above names offer any guarantees for the rest of 2012 or beyond.

NL short takes

Joe Saunders (LHP, ARI) scuffled through a Monday rehab but without any problems from his previously strained left shoulder, further solidifying his status as manager Kirk Gibson's starter this Saturday vs. CHC. Beat-writer reports out of Phoenix suggest that Trevor Bauer's (RHP, ARI) six-inning shutout performance vs. LA on Sunday—6 Ks, 1 BB, 8 GBs—saved his job, making it likely that Josh Collmenter (RHP, ARI) is the odd man out and heading back to the pen, despite tossing PQS-DOMs in each of his two July starts ...

The return of Matt Kemp (OF, LA) after the All-Star break will have ripple effects that reduce the playing time of anyone not producing on offense, in particular substitute CFs Tony Gwynn (OF, LA) and Elian Herrera (3B/2B/OF, LA). With options remaining and a .511 OPS, Scott Van Slyke (OF/1B, LA) is the obvious roster casualty candidate. Kemp isn't likely to test his balky hamstring on the base-paths immediately, suggesting that his running game may never get off the ground. But his 220 PX demands that his owners return him to active status ASAP ...


Mills' effort, Williams' return boost LA rotation

With Garrett Richards back in AAA-Salt Lake City, underperforming Dan Haren (RHP, LAA) on the DL with still unspecified back issues, and Ervin Santana's 5.75 ERA and 1.7 hr/9 speaking volumes, Brad Mills' (LHP, LAA) timing couldn't have been better.  Pitching on three days rest, the 27-year-old blanked BAL over 5 IP—6/0 K/BB—in the Angels' 6-0 win Sunday, and vaulted himself into rotation consideration coming out of the All-Star break.

The soft-tossing Mills relies on command and varying speeds on his curve-ball and change-up, while spotting an 86 MPH fastball when least expected.  Notwithstanding Sunday's performance, a career MLB 7.76 ERA (and 10 HR in 53 IP) points to his inferior stuff and what happens when his command is off.  His 8.6 career Dom is intriguing, but he's clearly not recommended until he shows more consistency.  Depending on how long Haren's DL stint lasts, Mills projects to see one more start.

The Angels also received good news on Jerome Williams (RHP, LAA), who rebounded from being hit by a comebacker in a previous rehab start.  Williams tossed six innings of two earned-run ball—7/0 K/BB—at AAA-Salt Lake City, after which manager Mike Scioscia announced that he would re-join the rotation after the break.  Williams' 3.87 xERA (83 IP) and ability to generate GBs at a 56% clip points to a reasonable bottom-of-the-rotation SP in deeper leagues.  But with the Angels scheduled to take on NYY at Yankee Stadium beginning Friday, his owners should check the schedule prior to activating him.

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