10 MLB Players in Danger of Losing Their Jobs After Horrid Starts

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistApril 21, 2013

10 MLB Players in Danger of Losing Their Jobs After Horrid Starts

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    MLB players are bound to struggle at some point during a 162-game season, but some are putting their starting roles in jeopardy with porous production.

    We're not here to worry about proven stalwarts like Adrian Beltre and Matt Cain who have limped out of the gate. Those two stars will be just fine.

    The players on this list have either failed to show their worth in the past or have viable replacements breathing down their necks. Many also misled us with strong spring numbers.

    Should fantasy baseball owners jump ship on these stat-killers before their real-life bosses give up on them? If their level of performance doesn't change soon, their teams' lineup cards will.

    *Stats accurate as of start of the day, Sunday April 21st.

Allen Craig

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    2013 Stats: .220/.266/.305, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 6 R, 0 SB

    Considering Allen Craig slugged .522 last season, this may seem like a gross overreaction. Matt Adams, however, makes it a scenario worth considering.

    In a miniscule sample size of 21 at-bats, Adams is hitting an insane .524 with three homers. Looking at Adams’ .329/.362/.624 slash line from Triple-A last season, swinging the bat has never been the problem.

    The 6’3”, 230-pound behemoth is a masher, but his glove is, to be polite, a work in progress. Why does that sound familiar?

    Adams is essentially the second coming of Craig, a converted outfielder who has yet to clear the fences during 57 plate appearances this year.

    Don’t press the panic button on Craig’s slow start just yet, but Adams could slowly eat into his playing time at first base if the two sluggers continue to go down opposing paths.

Julio Teheran

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    2013 Stats: 16 IP, 0 W, 7.31 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 12 K, 7 BB

    Let this be a lesson to never go overboard due to spring training stats.

    An incredible spring morphed Julio Teheran into a massive sleeper. The 22-year-old snatched the Atlanta Braves’ final rotation spot by posting a 1.04 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 35 strikeouts through 26 innings.

    That month of massive production erased the sour taste of the entire previous season in which Teheran flopped in Triple-A with a 5.08 ERA and 1.44 WHIP.

    Teheran has already surrendered five home runs, two of which came against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, in three starts. And don’t blame this abysmal start on poor luck; Teheran’s towering ERA mirrors his 7.31 FIP, according to FanGraphs.

    What happens if Brandon Beachy can return before the All-Star break? With all of Atlanta's other starting pitchers firing on all cylinders, Teheran is currently the top option to take a seat.

Domonic Brown

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    2013 Stats: .218/.283/.345, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R, 0 SB

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me every spring training…

    When are we going to learn to ignore Domonic Brown’s alluring spring numbers? After reeling in skeptics who were ready to write him off, Brown has started the season sluggishly again.

    Once a 5-star prospect primed to burst through as a superstar with 30/30 talent, Brown has hit .234 over his 164-game career with 14 homers and five steals.

    Freddy Galvis, who filled in for Chase Utley at second base last year, has started the last three games in left field. Despite his current surge, the light-hitting Galvis shouldn’t permanently oust Brown. But what happens when Delmon Young comes off the disabled list?

    John Mayberry is faring better on the other side of the Philadelphia Phillies outfield so far, hitting .324 with a .588 slugging percentage. Once Young is healthy, Brown might become the odd man out.

Jarrod Parker

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    2013 Stats: 18 IP, 0 W, 7.50 ERA, 2.17 WHIP, 9 K, 10 BB

    Let this be a lesson that spring training occasionally indicates legitimate red flags.

    Jarrod Parker tossed some rough innings during March, but most fantasy gamers (including yours truly) decided to write that off as a blip. Maybe he was testing out his repertoire before the real games started. No biggie.

    Now, it might be time to worry. Before showing a glimpse of life during his last start, Parker struck out a measly four batters while walking eight through his first three outings.

    Dan Straily waiting in the wings in Triple-A is also not helping Parker's case. In an early spot-start made during Bartolo Colon’s suspension, Straily struck out 11 batters and walked none. It was against the Houston Astros, but that technically still counts.

    The 24-year-old is another dreadful start or two away from losing his rotation spot in Oakland. He should not be in your fantasy lineup during those outings.

Emilio Bonifacio

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    2013 Stats: .192/.232/.346, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 7 R, 0 SB

    I touted Emilio Bonifacio this spring, encouraging all readers to grab him at the middle infield spot and watch as he leads all second basemen in steals.

    Sorry about that.

    Bonifacio has yet to swipe a bag, largely because he has seldom reached base. An early swoon is OK for an established star, but it’s disastrous for a fringe player fighting for playing time.

    One would think the injury to Jose Reyes clears a spot for Bonifacio to stay at second with Maicer Izturis shifting to shortstop, but Toronto is already phasing him out.

    Munenori Kawasaki, who slugged .202 last year, has played some shortstop since Reyes went down. Brett Lawrie also played a rehab game at second while Jose Bautista manned third three times.

    It’s probably safe to drop Bonifacio in virtually all leagues at this point.

Rick Porcello

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    2013 Stats: 13 IP, 0 W, 11.08 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 3 K, 3 BB

    Remember when Rick Porcello went the spring training exhibition period without walking a batter, and the baseball community collectively declared that this is the year he finally breaks out?

    Oddly enough, he looks like the same Porcello. If anything, he's proven to be even worse.

    He has only issued three free passes, so perhaps that improved control is here to stay. Unfortunately, opposing batters are still hitting him hard, and he can't generate any whiffs.

    The book on Porcello has always been that he needs to amplify his strikeout rate in order to become fully fantasy relevant. It could still happen for the 24-year-old, but probably not this year.

    Porcello entered spring training in a position battle with Drew Smyly, who has fanned 17 batters through 15 innings this season. Smyly quietly posted solid numbers last season and is more than qualified to assume the role of Detroit’s No. 5 starter. 

    After the Los Angeles Angels demolished Porcello on Saturday, scoring nine runs in the first inning, Smyly should get another chance.

Pedro Alvarez

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    2013 Stats: .115/.220/.231, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 5 Runs, 0 SB

    Everyone is due for a rough patch or two during the long season, but Pedro Alvarez is beyond lost right now.

    The 26-year-old has struck out 21 times in 56 at bats. In the majors because of his power bat, Alvarez is slugging just .231.

    How long can the Pirates keep the struggling third baseman in the lineup? He should receive some leeway on a young team with little hopes of contending anytime soon, but that doesn’t offer him immunity if he continues to play this poorly.

    Although Alvarez will likely keep his job in Pittsburgh, fantasy owners should not display similar patience. It’s hard to blame anyone that dumps him in a standard, 10-team mixed league since Alvarez is a sub-.250 hitter at his best.

    In more involved leagues, the power production makes him worthy of stashing on the bench with the hope that he breaks out of this swoon.

Greg Holland

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    2013 Stats: 4 IP, 3 SV, 9.00 ERA, 2.75 WHIP, 8 K, 6 BB

    Judging a pitcher on four innings is cruel, but that's the life of a major league reliever.

    Greg Holland blew a save in the season's first week and was pulled before nearly squandering another lead the following day. He is still the Kansas City Royals closer, but for how long?

    Holland has demonstrated the propensity to pile up strikeouts, and it also can't hurt that the previously flawless Kelvin Herrera gave up three homers to the Braves last Tuesday and relinquished a lead to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.

    But even though Herrera is losing ground on Holland, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow have pitched well so far in a bullpen loaded with electric arms. Holland can't afford too many more ugly outings if he wants to retain his spot as the ninth-inning stopper. 

Aaron Hicks

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    2013 Stats: .042/.179/.042, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 6, 1 SB

    Remember that thing about how misleading spring stats are?

    Aaron Hicks cemented his spot as the Minnesota Twins' starting center fielder after crushing three homers in a single spring training game, but has only two hits so far this season.

    Expectations soared following his power binge in March, but the warning signs were there for anyone willing to look. While he hit well in Double-A last year, batters who bypass Triple-A often struggle in their major league debuts. It’s not like he crushed Double-A pitching either, as he hit just .286. 

    A low-risk gamble on draft day, Hicks is no longer worth a roster spot in all but the deepest of fantasy leagues. There’s a good chance he will get the chance to test the Triple-A waters soon enough. 

Tim Lincecum

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    2013 Stats: 2 W, 3.97 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 23 K, 14 BB

    The Franchise is posting frightening numbers in 2013.

    And not in the good sense. Tim Lincecum has walked 14 batters in 22.2 innings, highlighted by a seven-walk outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers to kick off the season.

    That’s not what you want to see from a former two-time Cy Young winner trying to bounce back from a disastrous season. His inclusion on this list may seem unwarranted after he struck out eight while walking two in his most recent start, but don't forget, that was against the Padres.

    The San Francisco Giants shifted Lincecum to the bullpen during their World Series run, and he responded well. Through 17.2 postseason innings, Lincecum struck out 20 batters while walking five.

    Would they consider making that transition permanent if Lincecum continues to falter as a starter? Fortunately for Lincecum, most of San Francisco’s bullpen is thriving, and there is not an obvious candidate to replace him in the rotation.

    At least for now.