10 MLB Players Who Need to Come Up Big This Weekend to Keep Their Jobs
Now that we are just about a month into the season, we have officially reached the point where jobs are on the line if players do not improve their performance.
There are some players such as Heath Bell who no matter how badly they perform, they will keep their job for at least a little while longer because of their contracts. That being said, the players on this list do not have that long-term security.
Some players earned roles because of injury while others had excelled in previous games to the point they were rewarded with jobs of greater importance.
However, at this point in the season, the only thing that matters is what you are doing for me today, and if these 10 players do not step up their performance, they will not keep their jobs for very long.
Arizona Diamondbacks Starting 1B: Paul Goldschmidt
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After a sparkling regular season and playoff debut last season, Paul Goldschmidt has really gotten off to a slow start this year with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Goldschmidt was never supposed to hit for a great average, but with just one home run and strikeouts in 35 percent of his plate appearances, his power has not made up for his lack of hits.
Arizona has already been platooning Lyle Overbay with Goldschmidt in a 65-35 split, but if the power-hitting first baseman cannot find his stroke soon, the D-Backs will look to give Overbay more at-bats.
New York Yankees Spot in Rotation: Freddy Garcia
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Freddy Garcia caught a bit of a break with Michael Pineda's injury because he has been flat-out awful to start the year.
With Pineda out for the season, it means either Garcia or Phil Hughes will lose a spot in the rotation when Andy Pettitte returns in a couple of weeks.
Since both have pitched so poorly, the competition for that final spot is wide-open, and after Hughes got hit hard in Texas on Wednesday, Garcia's start Saturday against the Tigers became even more important.
If he can go out and shut down their star-studded lineup, Garcia will distance himself from Hughes for the final spot in the Yankees rotation. On the other hand, if he gets hit hard for the fourth consecutive time this season, he leaves himself on the outside looking in.
Chicago White Sox Closer: Hector Santiago
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However, there's a reason people say: "Third time's the charm."
Hector Santiago has really struggled after a great spring training, giving up 11 hits and six runs in just 6.1 innings pitched, not to mention four long balls. Meanwhile, his competition in the bullpen has been stellar.
Matt Thornton has returned to form, giving up just one run in 9.2 IP with eight strikeouts and no walks. Rookie and closer of the future Addison Reed has been just as good, if not better, with 10 strikeouts and no runs allowed in 7.1 IP.
If Santiago blows another save this weekend for the Sox, do not be surprised if Ventura names either Thornton or Reed his new closer.
Milwaukee Brewers Leadoff Spot: Rickie Weeks
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Rickie Weeks is not going to be replaced in the Brewers' starting lineup any time soon.
However, the Milwaukee Journal believes that the Brewers lineup needs a tune-up, and I agree.
Weeks is one of the 10 best hitting 2B in baseball, but no leadoff should be fifth in all of baseball in strikeouts, but that's where he sits heading into this weekend's action. In addition to that, he's only hitting .189.
His .350 OBP last season proves Weeks has the ability to be a solid leadoff man, but if he does not get those strikeouts under control and soon, Ron Roenicke will have to consider making a switch at the top of the order.
Cincinnati Reds Closer: Sean Marshall
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After blowing Thursday's matinee against the San Francisco Giants, Sean Marshall now has a 6.14 ERA in 7.1 innings with two losses and a blown save.
Compare those stats to those of Reds' setup man Aroldis Chapman and Dusty Baker has a dilemma on his hands.
Chapman has been the best reliever in baseball this season. He has not allowed a run in 11.1 innings with a 0.53 WHIP and 20 strikeouts.
Marshall was acquired and given a new contract extension with the presumption that he would not be their closer. That role belonged to Ryan Madson until his elbow surgery.
If Marshall does not step up his performance this weekend and loses another game for Cincinnati, the lefty fireballer could be the Reds' new closer by Monday.
Seattle Mariners Primary Catcher: Miguel Olivo
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Miguel Olivo did not have a good first season with the Mariners, and this season has been no different.
Last season, Olivo hit .224 with a .253 on-base percentage, but things have gotten even worse in 2012, as he's hitting .169 with a .182 OBP in 65 at-bats thus far.
No major league hitter will stay in the lineup if he does not get on base at a .200 clip and Miguel Olivo is no different. If he does not pick it up soon, his playing time will most definitely go down.
Washington Nationals Closer: Brad Lidge
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Coming into the season, there were not a lot of expectations for Brad Lidge.
After all, he had just signed a one-year deal worth just $1 million, and he was expected to compete for a role in the sixth and seventh innings, with Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard taking care of the rest.
However, after Storen went down with an elbow injury, Lidge was thrown into the closer's role with Henry Rodriguez, and unlike his teammate, Lidge has been hit-or-miss thus far this season.
While Rodriguez has been perfect in his appearances this season, not allowing a run in nine appearances earning five saves in five chances, Lidge has blown two of his four chances and has as a 2.00 WHIP with seven walks in just seven innings this season.
If Lidge does not step up his performances, Nats' manager Davey Johnson will have no choice but to give all the save opportunities to Rodriguez moving forward.
Toronto Blue Jays 1B/DH Playing Time: Adam Lind
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Adam Lind had a breakout season in 2009 but has not lived up to those expectations ever since.
After hitting .305 with a .370 OBP that season, Lind has hit .242 with a .292 OBP, with a career worst .217 batting average this year.
With Edwin Encarnacion having a breakout year of his own this year and Travis Snider getting off to an outstanding start in Triple-A hitting .400 in 86 at-bats, Lind needs to improve his production soon.
If not, the Blue Jays may call up Snider and see what he can do with Lind's everyday at-bats.
Baltimore Orioles 1B/3B Playing Time: Mark Reynolds
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I would never have believed it a month ago, but 19 games into the season, the Baltimore Orioles sit tied for first place in the American League East.
This is important for every Orioles player because it means they cannot sit and wait around for players to live up to their potential. They cannot wait for players to live up to previous expectations because for the first time in a long time, even this early in the season, they are playing relevant baseball games.
Mark Reynolds is a prime example of a player they cannot wait for.
After averaging 35 home runs a year over the past four seasons, Reynolds still has not hit one this season but is still playing terrible defense and striking out a ton.
If his performance does not improve this weekend, he will begin to see less and less playing time.
Chicago Cubs Starting Catcher: Geovany Soto
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After winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2008, Geovany Soto has been extremely inconsistent for the Cubs, only having one more good season in 2010.
This year, he has taken his struggles to a new level and with new management in town.
Soto is hitting a paltry .140 with a .204 on-base percentage while the Cubs' top catching prospect Wellington Castillo is raking in Triple-A with a .955 OPS in 16 games.
GM Theo Epstein already showed he was willing to get rid of proven veterans with the Marlon Byrd trade, so if he is another player who must improve his performance soon or he may be shipped out of town as well.