10 MLB Players It's Not Too Early to Give Up on in 2013
MLB teams are often hesitant to give up on struggling players. But even at this juncture of the 2013 season, Jonathan Sanchez, Erik Bedard and others have already distinguished themselves as unsalvageable liabilities.
It took more than just month-long slumps to make this list. Shaky rookies like Aaron Hicks and Wily Peralta, for example, fill thin positions on their respective clubs. Besides, it's unfair to draw conclusions about high-ceiling guys so early in the developmental process.
Rather, the following slides include contract-year underachievers, as well as controllable role players who have not progressed after several years in the majors.
It's not too early to tweak rosters when superior replacements/better fits emerge.
Chad Durbin (Philadelphia Phillies)
The basic 2013 stats for relief pitcher Chad Durbin are ugly—7.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 8/7 SO/BB in 9.0 IP—yet they don't fully articulate how useless he has been.
Most of the damage against Durbin stems from road appearances, but over time, he'll probably struggle at Citizens Bank Park too. It has notoriously small dimensions that don't suit the right-hander's tendency to induce fly balls and line drives.
Neither the Atlanta Braves nor Washington Nationals have seized a commanding lead in the NL East.
Leapfrogging them requires the Phillies to tighten up the bullpen (ergo dumping Durbin for Justin De Fratus or Joe Savery).
Ramon Hernandez (Los Angeles Dodgers)
During his prime, Ramon Hernandez was among the most underrated catchers in the league. That was 2003-2008.
Presently, he doesn't belong on a major league roster, much less on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He batted only .217/.247/.353 in 2012 despite the benefits of Coors Field and its high altitude. Since joining L.A., he has recorded one hit in seven games, which translates to a .056 batting average.
Like the Philadelphia Phillies, the Dodgers haven't fallen out of division title contention...yet. Improving at backup catcher could close the gap, even though A.J. Ellis seldom misses a start.
Red-hot Tim Federowicz has video-game numbers at Triple-A (via MiLB.com), and the prospect's defense is highly touted.
General manager Ned Colletti was initially excited to acquire Hernandez. "Ramon gives us invaluable veteran experience and additional leadership at the catching position," he said, according to a team press release (MLB.com).
Perhaps that qualifies him to coach baseball someday, but it definitely doesn't compensate for offensive mediocrity.
Mark DeRosa (Toronto Blue Jays)
Mark DeRosa absolutely raked during spring training, but you wouldn't know it from his regular-season struggles. His .152/.250/.303 batting line is characteristic of somebody who's out of sync...or all washed up.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, DeRosa's 2013 swinging-strike percentage is worse than ever.
The Toronto Blue Jays have buried themselves in last place. Their 10-21 record can be largely attributed to an anemic offense that averages 3.45 runs per contest—last in the American League.
It's a bit soon for the club to shop big-name hitters and look toward the future. More likely, the Blue Jays will release DeRosa and recall a right-handed-hitting corner infielder from the minors (e.g. Mauro Gomez).
Nobody would blame them. DeRosa has performed below replacement level in three of the past four seasons.
Chris Coghlan (Miami Marlins)
Chris Coghlan beat out a relatively weak crop of first-time major league players to win NL Rookie of the Year in 2009.
A .321/.390/.460 batting line, of course, is nothing to sneeze at. That's what Coghlan achieved at age 24, and the then-Florida Marlins had reason to believe he could be an effective everyday player in future seasons.
Unfortunately, injuries derailed his career. He celebrated his way to a torn meniscus in 2010 when attempting to smack Wes Helms with a postgame shaving cream pie (via Mike Dodd, USA Today). Knee problems persisted the following summer, limiting him to 65 MLB games.
Coghlan expressed optimism to Craig Davis of the Sun Sentinel this spring training, as it was the first time since 2010 that he wasn't amid rehab. Although he had batted .140/.212/.183 the previous season, the Marlins found room for him in a platoon situation.
The 2013 results have been basically the same: no offensive productivity and raw fielding, as evidenced by a negative Ultimate Zone Rating (via FanGraphs).
Even on the National League's weakest team, Coghlan is distinguishing himself with an embarrassingly poor performance.
Jose Tabata (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Based largely on Baseball America hype, general manager Neil Huntington negotiated a long-term contract extension with Jose Tabata in 2011.
The outfielder has steadily regressed ever since. Entering May 5, he is only at .204/.278/.306 this season and getting about two plate appearances per game.
Tabata doesn't turn 25 until August, and it's certainly possible he "figures it out" eventually.
Fragility would still be a concern. Tabata suffered a strained quadriceps two years ago (via MLB.com) and has already missed time in 2013 with hamstring tightness. Neither resulted from contact with another player.
At 17-13, the Pirates are off to their best 30-game start in two decades. To sustain it, they will need to make the tough decision and say goodbye to Tabata, thus upgrading their right-field platoon.
Erik Bedard (Houston Astros)
The rebuilding Houston Astros need veteran free agents plugging holes on the roster. Carlos Pena, for example, has a reputation for being a valuable clubhouse presence, writes ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. Also, the young guys can surely admire pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel for overcoming such adversity.
But what exactly is Erik Bedard's niche?
He has been counterproductive in the rotation with a 9.98 ERA and 2.28 WHIP in his five starts. Moreover, his average of barely three innings per outing is draining the bullpen.
Sure, Bedard had successful seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. Whenever healthy enough to pitch for the Seattle Mariners, the results were relatively impressive too.
None of that matters now, however, because he has lowered his quality standards. Michael Wagaman of the Associated Press reports that the 34-year-old "hardly sounded concerned after a dreadful outing" when he couldn't escape the first inning. Then, a few weeks later, when the Boston Red Sox mashed eight hits in three-plus frames, Bedard credited their lineup and insisted that he "felt good" (via MLB.com's Brian McTaggart).
Houston could easily dismiss this left-handed liability and bring up top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart.
Brian Roberts (Baltimore Orioles)
How's this for a depressing stat? Brian Roberts has played in fewer than 23 percent of all Baltimore Orioles games since his $40 million contract extension took effect in 2010.
The first problem was a herniated disc, followed by a severe concussion. After recovering from that, he dealt with a groin strain. And then early this season he ruptured a tendon behind his right knee, according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli, with a recovery time of three to four weeks. More than a month has passed, however, and Ghiroli has no projected return date to report.
When it comes to Roberts, there will always be setbacks. The Orioles ought to realize that by now.
The front office should operate with the expectation that he isn't going to provide anything. That means pursuing a second baseman to supplant Ryan Flaherty, who has batted just .118/.211/.206 with one home run.
Robert Andino (Seattle Mariners)
Over the past two weeks, Robert Andino and Brendan Ryan have been alternating at shortstop for the Seattle Mariners. It's Eric Wedge's passive-aggressive way of expressing his displeasure with their feeble bats.
Ryan's presence is indispensable nonetheless. He makes flashy off-balance throws and gorgeous relays to save runs (via MLB.com). Understandably, he always ranks among MLB leaders in defensive statistics like UZR and dWAR.
The Mariners have caught fire with wins in six of their past seven games, but run production is still very inconsistent.
Enter Nick Franklin, the 22-year-old infielder who's tearing apart the Pacific Coast League. He seldom faces lefties, but that hasn't prevented him from demonstrating terrific power and plate discipline.
Many teams would cherish Andino considering his $1.6 million salary and remaining year of arbitration eligibility. Too bad he lacks Ryan's glove work and Franklin's offensive potential.
Jonathan Sanchez (Pittsburgh Pirates)
HardballTalk blogger Craig Calcaterra was speaking for most of us this spring when he predicted Jonathan Sanchez would be cancerous in the Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation.
"I feel like that no-hitter [Sanchez threw] a few years ago is keeping him in the league way longer than he would have been otherwise," he wrote on March 26. "I also feel like the Pirates are gonna be shuffling around the back end of that rotation before the calendar hits May."
Right on cue, Michael Sanserino confirmed that the club inserted Jeanmar Gomez into his spot:
#Pirates move Jonathan Sanchez to bullpen. Jeanmar Gomez will start Wednesday.— Michael Sanserino (@msanserino) April 29, 2013
Prior to the shake-up, Sanchez owned a 12.71 ERA and averaged fewer than three innings per outing. He had surrendered 10 XBH in 11.1 IP, including five home runs.
The Pirates still have him on the active roster as a mop-up guy. He debuted in that role on April 29 and made an ugly 7-2 deficit even more daunting by giving up two home runs.
Per FanGraphs, Sanchez is performing below replacement level for the second straight year. Moreover, the lefty has been unwilling to modify his pitch selection since experiencing moderate success with the San Francisco Giants.
MLB veterans beat this mantra like a dead horse, but it's true: You need to make adjustments. Sanchez is too stubborn or proud to try.
Alfredo Aceves (Boston Red Sox)
Alfredo Aceves didn't play nice with former Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine in 2012. He also wilted on the mound (2-10, 5.36 ERA) and made enemies in the media.
The 2013 narrative is the same in several ways. The right-hander has once again put up numbers that don't reflect his apparent ability. He still exhibits strange behavior (via MLB.com's Ian Browne) and clashes with teammates, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald.
But rather than another slap on the wrist (last year's three-game suspension), the club has struck Aceves with a roundhouse kick: indefinite exile to the minors.
His path back to the Red Sox pitching staff has obstacles. WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports that reliever Craig Breslow is ready for activation from the disabled list. Due to contract guarantees and past performance, he will get precedence. Moreover, Speier believes top prospect Allen Webster is first in line to join the rotation should a vacancy present itself.
It figures to be several weeks—if not months—before Aceves returns to the majors. The impact will be detrimental in more ways than one unless Boston relocates him first.