1 Change All 30 MLB Teams Already Need to Make to Their Rosters
It's hard to put too much stock in the performance of a team or a single player when a long season is just two weeks old, but already there are some changes worth making to all 30 MLB rosters.
Whether it is calling up a top prospect who could help fill a void, sending down a young player who is struggling or shuffling around the batting order, there are tweaks that each team should consider at this point.
So here is a look at the one change all 30 MLB teams already need to make to their rosters here in the middle of April.
Call up Zach Clark.
The Orioles' starting pitchers have a 5.44 ERA here in the early going, and Jake Arrieta (10 IP, 10 H, 8 ER) and Chris Tillman (3.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER) in particular have struggled mightily.
The team could look to the farm for reinforcements soon, and while Zach Britton would seem like the most likely candidate for a call-up, the team could also take a look at Zach Clark.
A 29-year-old career minor leaguer, Clark went 15-7 with a 2.79 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A last season and was added to the 40-man roster as a result.
Giving him a shot couldn't hurt at this point; maybe he runs with it and winds up being a key contributor.
Boston Red Sox
Name Andrew Bailey closer.
Last offseason, the Red Sox dealt a package built around Josh Reddick to Oakland to acquire Andrew Bailey as a replacement for Jonathan Papelbon.
After an injury-plagued season from Bailey, the Red Sox were at it again this winter as they acquired All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan from the Pirates.
Five appearances into his tenure in Boston, Hanrahan has blown a save and sports a hefty 11.57 ERA after giving up five runs against Baltimore on Wednesday.
Bailey, on the other hand, has allowed just one hit with six strikeouts in 3.1 innings of work as the primary setup man.
New York Yankees
Call up Mark Montgomery.
The Yankees have had their fair share of issues to deal with in the early going this year, many injury-related. That said, the bullpen has struggled mightily despite being at full strength.
With a 6.51 bullpen ERA, the Yankees' bullpen has been the worst in all of baseball to this point. Joba Chamberlain (13.50 ERA) and Shawn Kelley (10.13 ERA) have had tough starts, but the entire unit has a whole has been bad.
Montgomery is currently pitching in Triple-A and has already been pegged as the closer of the future with a 1.66 ERA and 14.7 K/9 over 75 minor league appearances.
At this point, he has to be a better option than some of the guys the Yankees are trotting out there. He would need to be added to the 40-man roster, but designating someone like Kelley or Cody Eppley seems like a reasonable move.
Tampa Bay Rays
Give Ryan Roberts everyday at-bats.
The Rays added Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar this offseason in hopes of improving their offense at the infield positions.
However, both guys have struggled as Johnson (.182 BA, .626 OPS) and Escobar (.100 BA, .373 OPS) have been terrible to this point.
Roberts is currently getting at-bats all over the field, particularly at second base against left-handers, and he's 4-for-14 to this point.
He's hit just .242 over the past two seasons, but he has managed 31 home runs and 28 steals over that time. The lineup is short on impact talent, and despite his low average Roberts is someone who could get hot and make a real difference if given everyday playing time.
Toronto Blue Jays
Demote Adam Lind to minors.
It's safe to say the Blue Jays have given up on the idea of Adam Lind ever again being the player he was in 2009.
However, it may be time to give up on him altogether after he's opened the season 2-for-21 and is once again providing the team with nothing out of the DH spot.
The 29-year-old makes $5 million this year with team options for the next three years, so the team will likely try to get something out of him before the season is over.
At this point, though, he belongs in the minors where he could perhaps build some confidence and eventually provide the big league club with something.
Chicago White Sox
Call up Tyler Greene.
With an injury to Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez and Jeff Keppinger both struggling at the plate, the White Sox could use another middle infield bat.
Greene has long put up impressive power/speed numbers in the minors, but has been unable to transfer that success to the big league level.
Last year he spent the full season in the majors for the Cardinals, hitting .230/.274/.400 with 11 home runs and 12 steals over 305 at-bats.
With Beckham headed to the DL, Greene seems like the likely candidate to get the call; the team should give him a chance to prove himself upon his arrival.
Recall Trevor Bauer, leave him in the rotation.
The talk of Indians camp this spring was the resurgence of Scott Kazmir, who spent last season in the Independent League and came back to win the No. 5 starter spot.
However, a strained rib cage has kept him sidelined to this point, and in his place Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco have each made a start.
Corey Kluber will take the spot next time around, but looking to the future the team is best suited turning things over to Bauer for better or worse.
The 22-year-old right-hander has ace upside, and he's already proven himself at the minor league level. He allowed two hits and seven walks in his start this season, resulting in three runs allowed over five innings.
There will no doubt be bumps along the way as he continues to refine his command, but for the good of the team's long-term success, getting him experience now is their best move.
Call up Bruce Rondon.
When the Tigers let Jose Valverde walk this offseason and opted to fill the void in-house, most believed the ninth inning job would go to the hard-throwing Rondon.
After struggling early in camp, the big right-hander began to round into form, but the team opted to start him off in Triple-A anyway. He wrapped up camp with 17 hits, nine walks and eight runs allowed through 12.1 innings, though he did strike out 19.
That was enough for the team to start him off in Triple-A, and they've gone with a closer-by-committee as a result to open the season. It's worked to a point, but the bullpen has struggled as a group with a 6.41 ERA.
They may not want to throw him into the fire that is the ninth inning right away, but bringing him up at this point could only help the under-performing bullpen.
Kansas City Royals
Move Mike Moustakas out of the cleanup spot.
After a fantastic spring in which he hit .394/.429/.718 with five home runs and 16 RBI, the Royals opened the season with Moustakas hitting in the cleanup spot.
That success hasn't carried over to open the season, and Moustakas is just 6-for-31 with zero home runs and one RBI out of the No. 4 spot.
The team has other options in Jeff Francoeur, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez that they could opt to bump up in the lineup, or they could slide one of the them into the No. 3 spot and move Billy Butler to cleanup.
Whatever the choice, moving Moustakas down in the lineup and taking some pressure off of him seems like it could be a good move at this point.
Demote Aaron Hicks to the minors.
With Ben Revere and Denard Span gone, the Twins had two outfield spots open this spring. The favorite for the center field job was Darin Mastroianni, but a strong spring landed Hicks a starting gig out of camp.
The 23-year-old hit .370/.407/.644 this spring with 18 RBI and 18 runs scored, and many viewed him as an AL Rookie of the Year favorite entering the season.
Instead, he's gone just 2-for-35 with 16 strikeouts to enter the season, and it may be time for the Twins to consider making a change.
Mastroianni has seen just four at-bats so far this season, but after swiping 21 bases last season and providing a spark over his 163 at-bats, he should get another look with Hicks struggling.
Give J.D. Martinez everyday at-bats.
As they rebuild their franchise, the Astros will continue to evaluate their internal talent to decide who factors into the team's long-term plans.
As such, it's hard to understand why the team continues to give Rick Ankiel significant at-bats while J.D. Martinez is being used in a platoon role.
Martinez had 11 home runs and 55 RBI in 395 at-bats as a 24-year-old last season, and while he has had his ups and downs, there is some potential there.
If they want to continue giving Ankiel at-bats, the team could also bench Brett Wallace, who is hitting just .048, sliding Chris Carter in to first base and giving Martinez everyday at-bats in left.
Los Angeles Angels
Move Jerome Williams into the setup role.
Out of the majors from 2008-2010, Williams enjoyed a career renaissance when he joined the Angels in 2011 and went 4-0 with a 3.68 ERA in 10 appearances (six starts).
He served as a valuable swingman last season, making 32 appearances (15 starts) and throwing 137.2 innings.
After posting a 1.93 ERA and striking out 12 in 9.1 innings this spring, Williams has thrown four innings of scoreless relief this season as the team's long reliever.
With Garrett Richards serving as the swingman this year, the team should consider moving Williams into the right-handed setup role.
Kevin Jepsen (5 G, 10.80 ERA) and Mark Lowe (4 G, 9.64 ERA) have struggled in that role, and perhaps Williams is the answer in the eighth inning, at least until Ryan Madson comes off the DL.
Move Seth Smith up in the lineup.
Acquired from the Rockies last offseason for a pair of pitchers, Smith hit .240/.333/.420 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI over 383 at-bats.
He's off to a nice start this season, going 7-for-17 with four doubles and a home run as the left-handed bat in the DH platoon.
Four of his five starts this season have come in the No. 7 or No. 8 spot in the lineup, and with solid on-base skills and a decent start to the year the team should consider moving him up.
The 30-year-old has always been a solid platoon player, and the A's are among the best teams in the league at utilizing the platoon, but hitting him higher in the lineup—perhaps in the No. 2 spot—makes sense.
Call-up Mike Zunino.
Zunino signed quickly after being taken with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft last June and went on to hit .360/.447/.689 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI over just 161 at-bats.
He was sent to Triple-A to open the 2013 season; through six games he is 10-for-26 with three doubles, a triple, four home runs and 17 RBI.
He's one of the best offensive catchers in all of baseball right now, and the Mariners have to find a way to get him into the everyday lineup soon.
Jesus Montero is far from a polished defensive catcher and is off to a horrible start offensively. Returning him to the DH role and allowing him to focus on hitting could help him turn things around while also opening things up for Zunino.
Move David Murphy down in the lineup.
The Rangers lineup is not what it once was, as they parted ways with Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli in free agency this offseason.
As a result, David Murphy has slid into the No. 5 spot in the lineup. It sounded good in theory, as he hit .304 with 15 home runs and 61 RBI over 457 at-bats last season.
However, he's off to a rough start, hitting .176 with just three RBI through the team's first nine games. It may be time to move him down in the lineup.
Nelson Cruz (.353 BA) and A.J. Pierzynski (.333 BA) are currently slotted after him, and bumping those two up and moving Murphy to the No. 7 spot may be the team's best move.
Move Jason Heyward down in the order, at least temporarily.
At 8-1, the Braves have the best record in baseball so far, so it's hard to suggest any significant tinkering with their roster at this point.
One area in which they've struggled is at the top of the order, as they have had some trouble setting the table for their sluggers.
Andrelton Simmons opened the season as the leadoff hitter, but he's been bumped to the bottom of the lineup and replaced by B.J. Upton.
In the No. 2 spot, Heyward is hitting .071 in the early going, and it may be time for the team to consider sliding him down in the order as well, at least until he gets things going.
Does it really matter?
The Marlins could call up Jacob Turner, who will likely play a big part in the rotation's future, or they could give top prospect Christian Yelich a taste of big league action after his impressive spring.
At the end of the day, though, nothing they do is going to make a difference in 2013. They've shot past (behind?) the Astros for the title of worst team in the league, and at this point it's not even close.
With a grand total of 16 runs through their first nine games, it's no surprise they're off to a 1-8 start and at the bottom of the MLB standings.
This is a roster that's beyond tinkering, and until they get a new ownership group in place it's a franchise that's going nowhere.
New York Mets
Move Ike Davis down in the order.
Davis has had an up-and-down tenure with the Mets, and he had a tough first half last season before turning things around in the second half.
Off to a similarly awful start this season (.129/.229/.226), he remains in the cleanup spot in the Mets order at this point, but it may be time to consider moving him down.
With John Buck (1.246 OPS) and Lucas Duda (1.216 OPS) both hitting very well right now, the Mets could slide Davis down to the No. 6 spot in the order and take some pressure off of him for the time being.
He remains a 30-HR threat and an important part of the Mets' future, but there is no ignoring his rough starts the past two seasons.
Call up Joe Savery.
The Phillies have a number of problem areas right now, and while none is more prevalent than the struggles of their starting rotation, that is something that will just have to work itself out.
An area they can address is the bullpen, which currently has a 5.61 ERA as a group and just three guys with an ERA under 3.00.
Left-hander Raul Valdez in particular has been very bad, with nine hits and six runs allowed in 5.2 innings of work.
Replacing him with the 25-year-old Savery could give the team another reliable arm while the pitching staff works on turning things around. A former first-round pick who transitioned to the bullpen in 2011, Savery still has some upside and could make a real impact.
Call-up J.C. Romero.
A 14-year big league veteran, Romero pitched for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic before being sent to Triple-A in the Nationals organization.
The Nationals bullpen currently has a 5.76 ERA as a group. They have just one left-hander in the 'pen in Zach Duke, who allowed five runs over 2.2 innings in his only appearance this season.
The 36-year-old Romero struggled last season to a 9.00 ERA over 16 appearances, but he has long been one of the more reliable southpaws in the game.
The Nationals would need to add him to the 40-man roster, and after plucking Mike Gonzalez off the scrap heap last year and getting a solid season out of him, they could do the same with Romero this season.
Call up Logan Watkins.
With Darwin Barney on the disabled list, the Cubs have turned to Brent Lillibridge as the regular second baseman. Lillibridge has gone 1-for-20 to kick off the season.
Barney is expected back on April 16, but for the time being the Cubs could take a look at Logan Watkins at second base.
In Double-A last season, he hit .281/.383/.422 and swiped 28 bases, and he has slowly but surely worked his way through the Cubs' system since being taken in the 21st round back in 2008.
He has the potential to be a solid utility player; giving him a look at second base with Barney out and a bench job after that would give the Cubs a chance to evaluate another of their minor league pieces.
Name Devin Mesoraco starting catcher.
Dusty Baker has always had a penchant for playing veterans over young players, and that is a big reason why Ryan Hanigan has remained the starting catcher over Devin Mesoraco.
During his last full season in the minors in 2011, Mesoraco hit .289/.371/.484 with 15 home runs and 71 RBI but saw just 165 at-bats last season.
Hanigan is off to a rough start this year, as he's 1-for-23 to open the season, so the time may be coming for the team to turn things over to the 24-year-old Mesoraco.
He has the potential to be a plus offensive catcher, and given the fact that Hanigan is bringing nothing to the table offensively, it may be time to send him to the bench.
Call-up Johnny Hellweg.
One of three prospects acquired from the Angels at the deadline last year for Zack Greinke, Hellweg will no doubt join the Brewers bullpen at some point in 2013.
Given the fact that they're once again struggling after posting the worst bullpen ERA in the league last year, the time to call him up may be now.
Control has been the biggest issue with the hard-throwing right-hander, as he has put up a 6.3 BB/9 mark over his six-year minor league career.
Still, he has the stuff to be an impact arm in the late innings, and the Brewers need to upgrade their relief corps somehow. Calling him up seems like the best way to do that in-house at this point.
Call-up Jordy Mercer.
The Pirates offense has been horrible this season, as Starling Marte is the only player on the roster hitting over .250 right now with the team hitting .153 overall.
They don't have much in the way of minor league talent on the cusp of making an impact, but Mercer could be a useful utility bat off the bench.
In his last full minor league season, he hit 30 doubles and 19 home runs over 491 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A.
He's not an impact, everyday bat, but he is capable of providing some sort of offensive spark. At this point that is something the team desperately needs.
St. Louis Cardinals
Call up Jorge Rondon.
With Jason Motte on the disabled list, the Cardinals bullpen has been a mess to open the season with a 5.90 ERA and three blown saves so far.
They have a number of possibilities as far as arms they could call up for reinforcement, with Rondon being perhaps the most intriguing of the group.
Between Double-A and Triple-A last season, he posted a 3.49 ERA and struck out 50 batters in 49 innings of work.
Despite his small frame, the right-hander has a mid-90s fastball that can be dialed up to triple digits. He pairs it with a biting slider, as the stuff is there for him to make a serious impact.
Move Heath Bell out of the setup role.
Looking for a veteran setup man to pair off David Hernandez, the Diamondbacks acquired Bell from the Marlins in a three-team trade this offseason.
The 35-year-old struggled last season after posting three straight 40-save seasons in San Diego, so he was a decent candidate for a bounce-back season.
Instead, he's allowed runs in two of his four outings so far this season and has a 3.00 WHIP over 3.1 innings of work.
Bell is still a veteran arm capable of stringing together some good outings, but until he proves he still has it he has no business pitching in the late innings.
Call up Tyler Colvin.
A former first-round pick who was acquired from the Cubs for Ian Stewart last offseason, Colvin found his way into semi-regular at-bats and posted an .858 OPS with 18 home runs and 72 RBI over 420 at-bats in 2012.
Veteran Todd Helton is off to a rough start at first base, going 2-for-21 out of the gates. The team may have to consider shrinking his role as the season progresses.
The fact that Colvin was sent down to open the season was a bit of a surprise to begin with, and the Rockies would be wise to find a way to get him into the everyday lineup.
For now he would likely have to settle for a utility role, splitting time between first base and the outfield. Regardless of his role, he belongs on the big league roster at this point in his career.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Make Jerry Hairston everyday third baseman, shift Luis Cruz to shortstop.
With Hanley Ramirez on the shelf to open the season, the Dodgers have given Justin Sellers the bulk of the at-bats at shortstop.
A career .202 hitter over 188 big league at-bats, Sellers bring little in the way of offense and has already committed three errors on the defensive side of things.
Giving a starting spot to the offensively superior Hairston and shifting Cruz over to shortstop would be an improvement offensively, without the team losing too much defensively.
Hairston hit .273/.342/.387 last season, and with Ramirez on the DL for an extended period of time, he's the better choice for regular at-bats.
San Diego Padres
Call up Kyle Blanks.
With just three home runs as a team on the season and just 26 runs scored over their first eight games, the Padres have struggled offensively in the early going.
Once a promising young slugger, Blanks has battled injuries the past few seasons and fell off of the MLB radar for the most part as a result.
He hit .354/.436/.600 with three home runs and 14 RBI this spring, but that wasn't enough for him to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.
He's 5-for-17 with a two doubles and a home run here in the early going, and he could make an impact in the middle of the Padres lineup if given a chance.
San Francisco Giants
Call up Heath Hembree.
The Giants are once again a team that will rely on its pitching to get to the postseason, and for the most part they've been a solid staff to open the season.
George Kontos (5 IP, 6 H, 6 ER) and Jose Mijares (1.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) have struggled out of the bullpen, though, and the team could opt to replace them here in the early going.
The best option in the Giants' minor league system to replace them is the right-handed Hembree, who profiles as the team's closer of the future.
He's not on the 40-man roster and the team may want him to gain a bit more experience in the minors, but he's the best option as a reinforcement at this point.
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