Virtually every team in Major League Baseball has a player who could be described as worthless for one reason or another.
Either because of poor performance, salary that can't be unloaded, a toxic clubhouse presence or just perennially underachieving, these players are putting a strain on their teams.
These players not only draw the wrath of fans, but have their general managers scratching their heads trying to figure out ways to unload them as quickly as possible.
Not one team is immune from this type of player.
Let's take a look.
Note: Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are current as of Saturday, April 27. Players on the 40-man roster are included as well.
The Arizona Diamondbacks miss the bat of second baseman Aaron Hill. They also miss him for other reasons as well.
Hill suffered a broken hand when he was hit by a James McDonald pitch on April 9. He went on the disabled list a week later after attempting to play through the pain.
The injury did set the stage for the debut of shortstop Didi Gregorius in a Diamondbacks uniform, but it also meant that Cliff Pennington would be helping to cover Hill's absence at second base.
Considering Pennington's impotent bat, that's not the optimum solution.
Pennington is currently hitting .176 with just three RBI after hitting just .215 last season. It's a safe bet the Diamondbacks are hoping beyond hope for Hill's speedy recovery.
Once a promising young shortstop for the Atlanta Braves, Paul Janish is now manning a place on the 40-man roster for the Atlanta Braves.
And that's about the only good news concerning Janish's recent accomplishments.
Janish is currently rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery at Triple-A Gwinnett. He hit just .186 last year in 55 games for the Braves and doesn't figure to be of much help to them this year with Andrelton firmly implanted as the everyday shortstop.
There was speculation at one time that the Toronto Blue Jays were looking at Janish as a possibility after Jose Reyes was lost for several months with a sprained ankle.
However, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said that making a trade for a shortstop only slightly better than internal options simply wasn't the best option.
"It's hard to make trades in April," Anthopoulos said. "Teams are just getting started. They want to see what they have, and shortstop isn't a deep position in the league to begin with. Anybody who can play the position and give you great offense is probably an All-Star already. Is there anyone we can get who's going to be better than our internal options? Maybe, but it might be marginally better, and you have to factor in what you're giving up. Since this injury is somewhat short-term, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense."
At this point, Janish is definitely not better than current Jays internal options.
The Atlanta Braves have stumbled, dropping six of their last eight contests heading into action on Sunday. While several players have stumbled offensively, second baseman Dan Uggla has continued his struggles from last season.
Case in point—prior to Friday's game with the Detroit Tigers, Uggla had a .400 batting average with two home runs against starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez struck Uggla out four times that night.
Uggla is second in the National League with 30 strikeouts and is hitting just .167.
The Braves owe Uggla $39 million over the next three seasons. As of right now, it's an investment they'd like to rethink.
It's hard to call someone with a $72.5 million contract worthless, but in terms of looking at the here and now, Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton qualifies.
Upton is hitting just .151 and is tied with teammate Dan Uggla for the second-most strikeouts in the National League. Between the two, they have a combined .260 OBP.
There's simply not much good that can be garnered from Upton's brief Atlanta career thus far.
Baltimore Orioles second baseman Ryan Flaherty collected a double in four at-bats on Saturday in a 7-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
That hit raised Flaherty's batting average to .125.
It's still a relatively small sample size, but Flaherty now has a .194 average over 93 games in his career. The O's would love nothing more than for Brian Roberts to stay healthy, or for prospect Jonathan Schoop to mature quickly at the minor league level.
They're absolutely better served with either of those options than with Flaherty.
On Tuesday night against the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Alfredo Aceves got positively shellacked.
It wasn't so much that he gave up eight runs, it was how he gave up those runs and his accounting of his effort after the game.
But for the game first, here is a brief synopsis provided by Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com:
It was bad enough Aceves allowed eight runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings in a brutal 13-0 loss to the Oakland A's in 42-degree drizzle at. It was made worse by Aceves' actions in the third, when a) he threw 42 pitches, as he allowed six runs; b) balked twice in the span of a few hitters; c) failed to cover first base in time on a ground ball to the right side that would have ended the inning with the score only 3-0, and d) after the runner, , was ruled safe, turned and made a lazy, flat-footed throw to the plate that sailed past catcher Jarod Saltalamacchia and allowed another run to score.
Aceves then used a bevy of reasons why his outing was so bad after the game, including, but not necessarily limited to:
- Small strike zone
- His teammates can't hit
Wait, he said what?
Yes, Aceves went there. He actually tried pinning the blame on his bad performance to his teammates on that bleak night. They were held in check by Bartolo Colon, with the game mercilessly being called by rain after seven innings.
Aceves went on and on following the game about the reasons for his putrid outing, but this particular comment raised more than a few eyebrows.
This quote from Aceves will not delight his teammates: "Also they got hacks. Why do we not hit? Same thing. It's just bad today." #redsox— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) April 24, 2013
The Red Sox optioned Aceves to Pawtucket following the game, but both GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell said it had nothing to do with Aceves' postgame tirade.
Yeah, right—and I look like Richard Gere, too.
The Boston Red Sox signed Stephen Drew to a one-year, $9.5 million contract this offseason, hoping that he was completely healed from a gruesome ankle injury in 2011.
Drew hit .250 following his trade to the Oakland A's last and showed flashes of the player that was a solid offensive fixture in the Arizona Diamondbacks lineup in the late 2000s.
That Drew has yet to show up in Boston.
He's currently hitting .136 through his first 14 games. Drew started the season late due to concussion symptoms. His replacement, Jose Iglesias, hit .450 for the Sox during Drew's absence.
And he was sent down for Drew.
Judging by the reaction from fans on Twitter, they want Iglesias back as well.
I'm still sick of Stephen Drew, can Jose Iglesias come back already, shouldn't Drew have a hang nail and be on the 60 day DL— Mike Reinhart (@mikereinhart519) April 28, 2013
Drew singled in a run in the Red Sox's 8-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday, leading one fan to think he had just seen a mirage.
Did Stephen Drew just hit the baseball? Did he reach base safely? Or is this some sick fantasy?— Sean Kelly (@Sean_Kelly66) April 28, 2013
Imagine what they'd be saying if Drew were signed to longer than a one-year deal.
Just a few weeks into his career in American baseball, Chicago Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa quickly found out that life isn't quite the same as in Japan.
Fujikawa was lit up in his first five appearances, posting a 12.46 ERA and a .381 BAA before landing on the disabled list with a strained forearm muscle.
Fujikawa is getting closer to a return, and the Cubs will quickly find out if American baseball suits him any better upon his return.
Chicago Cubs reserve infielder Brent Lillibridge has started the 2013 season with a .389 batting average.
Oh, wait—that's for Triple-A Iowa.
Lillbridge was farmed out to Iowa after hitting just .042 (1-for-24) for the Cubs in nine games. He had been designated for assignment, presumably meaning that no other team deemed him worthy enough to place a waiver claim.
It's a safe bet that Lillibridge won't be seen again in Chicago.
Maybe the New York Mets knew what they were doing in not offering Scott Hairston a contract.
Hairston signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Cubs instead, and they're still waiting to see a return on their investment.
He is hitting just .077 with one home run in 16 games, and fans on Twitter aren't exactly optimistic when they see his name penciled into the lineup.
We're running Scott Hairston, Dave Sappelt, Cody Ransom, and Darwin Barney out in the same lineup and we're expecting to win? Seriously?— Tim McGinnis (@Aisle424) April 24, 2013
Hairston may have gotten the security of an extra year on his contract that he wanted, but Cubs fans aren't feeling very secure about that fact right about now.
The Chicago White Sox announced on Sunday that starting pitcher Gavin Floyd had been placed on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow.
You could probably hear an audible cheer from fans on the South Side.
Floyd got off to an 0-4 start with a 5.18 ERA in his first five starts. While he's not the early reason the White Sox have been sluggish in the early going, he's become the whipping boy on Twitter.
One fan pointed out that Floyd's elbow pain may not be the only reason for his DL stint.
Just a hunch, but I'm sensing a Gavin Floyd DL stint soon. "Elbow Soreness", or "General Awfulness" could be the reason.— Sox Thoughts (@SoxThoughts) April 27, 2013
Another fan who was attending his first game of the year noted with sarcasm his disdain for Floyd.
Of course I decide to go to a @whitesox game on a day Gavin Floyd is pitching.— GrandLBush (Dave P) (@Schraderbrau88) April 27, 2013
Well, things could be worse—Floyd could be wondering about his future.
Oh, wait—he's been wondering about that for over a year now.
Entering play on Sunday, Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn has hit a collective .181 since joining the team in 2011.
That includes a .136 average before Sunday's game with the Tampa Bay Rays. In fact, Dunn's average has improved of late.
A hit in his first at-bat on Sunday prompted this particular tweet:
Adam Dunn with a 4 game hitting streak to raise his average to a robust .145— DPG (@dpatrickg) April 28, 2013
Last week, Dunn raised some eyebrows with a quote he made regarding batting averages.
"I'm telling you, if people didn't post people's batting averages on the scoreboard or in the media, people would be batting .400. I'm serious. I believe that. You look at Spring Training, and I know it's a small sample, but you've got guys hitting .500 in 50-60 at-bats. They know they're hitting good, but they don't know what they're hitting."
You have to wonder if Dunn would be saying that if he were hitting above .250.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan was placed on the disabled list with a strained oblique on April 21. He was hitting a not-so robust .079 at the time of his injury.
In his absence, Devin Mesoraco—the presumed catcher of the future—has hit .250 with five RBI.
Hanigan is a career .268 hitter well known for his skills behind the plate—he's thrown out 40 percent of runners attempting to steal during his career. If Hanigan's struggles at the plate continue after his return from the DL, the defense simply won't make up for carrying an automatic out every day in the lineup.
At some point soon, the Cleveland Indians have to decide whether they will fish or cut bait with starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez showed some promise with his first start of the 2013 season. However, he has posted an ugly 14.73 ERA in his last three starts with nine walks in 11 innings.
Cleveland Plain Dealer writer Paul Hoynes discussed what the Indians could do with Jimenez if his struggles continue:
If Jimenez does not show marked improvement in the coming weeks, the Indians have three options. They can designate him for assignment, move him to the bullpen or see if he would go to the minors. Jimenez, who is out of options, would have to agree to such a move. Roberto Hernandez, the former Fausto Carmona, was the last Indians player to agree to such a move.
At this point it would seem almost a certainty that Jimenez's 2014 option will not be picked up. In fact, if Jimenez's struggles do continue, he'll be hard-pressed to find any team at all next season.
Don Kelly for the most part is a defensive replacement. He sure isn't being inserted into the lineup for his bat.
Kelly hit just .186 in 75 games for the Detroit Tigers last year, and he's followed up by hitting .136 this year thus far.
At 33 years of age Kelly is literally hanging on to his roster spot by his fingernails. At some point the Tigers will replace him with someone younger and cheaper—at this point a replacement player has more value than Kelly over the past season-plus.
Here's what at least one fan thinks of Kelly's play thus far.
Don Kelly batting .095. The ONLY reason he's playing is because #FireLeyland loves him.— Justin (@DETJustin) April 27, 2013
Okay, then! Maybe someone should tell Justin not to mince his words.
Speaking of players barely clinging to a roster spot.
Much like teammate Don Kelly, Detroit Tigers second baseman Ramon Santiago has gone from valuable and capable to a drain on the roster.
Santiago is hitting just .105 thus far through the first month of the season. Every contending team needs a bench that can be productive when called upon. Both Kelly and Santiago simply can't provide that kind of value right now.
Many at the time looked at Humber as an unlikely candidate to ever throw a game like that. His recent efforts are proving why.
Since that incredible effort on April 21 last year, Humber has a 7.52 ERA. That includes five starts this year for the Houston Astros in which he's lost all five games, given up a league-leading 21 runs with a 7.99 ERA and allowed opposing batters to hit .343 against him.
Humber got his 15 minutes of fame last year—he could be getting a pink slip this year.
Just last week, The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo highlighted Houston Astros pitcher Erik Bedard as one of a trio of players who could benefit from their time in Houston.
One of the great benefits of playing for the Astros if you’re a veteran is that you get to showcase yourself for a possible trade at the deadline. Carlos Pena, Erik Bedard, and Bud Norris are prominent veterans who could perform well enough to escape a tough situation.
About the only thing Bedard is currently showcasing is his deficiencies.
Since earning his first-ever save on Opening Night in Houston, Bedard has been awful, now posting a 7.98 ERA after allowing five runs on eight hits and failing to get out of the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox on Friday.
Bedard was released by the Pittsburgh Pirates in late August last year after a two-month stretch in which he posted a 3-7 record and 6.21 ERA in his final 10 starts. That trend has clearly continued with Houston.
Bedard could see himself no longer pitching for Houston like Cafardo said, but it won't be because he has value to another team at this point.
Houston Astros first baseman Brett Wallace is a lifetime .306 hitter in the minors. After hitting .300 with 16 home runs last year at Triple-A Oklahoma City, he was called back up by the Astros and hit .287 in the month of August.
Wallace slipped back to just .207 in the final month of the season, however. He slipped even further at the start of this season, hitting just .042 with a whopping 17 strikeouts in 26 plate appearances.
The Astros have given Wallace several chances already since the 2010 season—his time to impress in Houston may now be over.
Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas hit 20 home runs in his first full season last year. But there were trends that raised red flags as well.
Moustakas was streaky for much of the season and his .296 OBP was well below league average.
This year, Moustakas has struggled mightily. He's currently ranked last among qualified third basemen with a .152 batting average and .419 OPS, and has driven in just one run in 18 games.
The Royals are doing all they can to qualify for the postseason this year. At some point, they won't hesitate to demote Moustakas and look for a better alternative.
The on-again, off-again story of Ryan Madson's recovery from Tommy John surgery took yet another interesting turn.
Madson, signed to a one-year, $3.5 million contract by the Los Angeles Angels during the offseason, underwent the procedure last April. The Angels took a chance on a low-risk, high-reward deal.
Well, if one can call $3.5 million low-risk, that is.
Madson has already stopped and started throwing programs on several occasions since before spring training began with assorted setbacks stalling his progress.
He's currently in stop mode once again.
Now, who knows what to believe.
For the first time this season, Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Joe Blanton pitched well enough for his team to win on Saturday.
Unfortunately for him and the Angels, he went up against the hot Felix Hernandez.
Blanton's six-inning, three-run effort wasn't quite enough, but he at least dropped his ERA to 7.09 on the season. Blanton leads the majors with 47 hits allowed and leads the AL with 21 earned runs given up.
Blanton was signed to a two-year, $15 million deal. For that kind of money, fans shouldn't have to hold their collective breath every time he makes a start.
Quite a few experts and pundits wondered aloud about the back end of the Los Angeles Angels' starting rotation before the season began.
Turns out they all had plenty of reasons why.
We've already discussed Joe Blanton—now on to Jason Vargas.
Vargas, acquired from the Seattle Mariners during the offseason, will pitch against his former team on Sunday. Thus far Vargas has posted an 0-2 record with a 5.82 ERA. It's been ugly, too—34 hits allowed in 21.1 innings, a 2.03 WHIP and just a 4.2 K/9 rate.
In fact, the three starters acquired by Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto—Vargas, Blanton and Tommy Hanson—are a combined 2-7 with a 5.92 ERA. Hanson has the only two victories.
The only reason Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Luis Cruz is on the roster right now is because he's out of options. He'd have to clear waivers in order to be re-assigned to the minors.
Cruz is hitting just .098 this season, and all five of his hits have been singles. Considering he contributed 26 extra-base hits in 78 games last season, it's certainly a complete turnaround.
Cruz is working with hitting coach Mark McGwire on correcting his hitting mechanics. But for now he's just taking up a spot on the roster while the team eagerly anticipates the return of Hanley Ramirez.
The production from the left side of the Dodgers infield thus far has been pathetic—a combined .160 average with two home runs and nine RBI. Cruz is just part of the problem, but with what he contributed last year, his 2013 start is a massive disappointment.
The Miami Marlins signed Jon Rauch before spring training to a one-year deal to help bolster their bullpen.
The only thing he's done thus far is make the bullpen taller.
The 6'11" reliever has struggled thus far with a 9.72 ERA in eight appearances. He gave up five runs in just two-thirds of an inning last Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds and hasn't been used since.
However, if the Marlins take on any comers in a game of pickup basketball, they've got the perfect low-post guy.
The starting outfield for the Miami Marlins—Juan Pierre, Justin Ruggiano and Giancarlo Stanton—are hitting a combined .211.
Their backups—Austin Kearns and Chris Coghlan—are hitting .179.
Coghlan has been nothing but a massive disappointment since capturing the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2009. He's likely just a placemat on the Marlins roster while young prospects continue developing in the minors.
This pick is probably self-explanatory since we just explored the complete impotence of the Miami Marlins outfield offense in the previous slide.
Austin Kearns is much like Chris Coghlan—he's simply holding down a roster spot while the Marlins develop their young outfield prospects.
They can't possibly be happy with the production they've received from veterans on the bench thus far, but for now the Marlins simply don't have better options.
Last year, Rickie Weeks suffered through a miserable first-half, hitting just .183 at the end of June. Much of his struggles could be blamed on a sprained ankle suffered late in the previous season.
There's no such excuse this year, however. He's tied for sixth in the majors with 30 strikeouts and has just one home run thus far.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has been unwavering in support of Weeks.
“He’s going to get out of this," Roenicke told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. "It’s a matter of what day it is, and the more I keep him in there, the more I feel like he’s going to get out of it.”
With the Brewers winning eight of their last 10 games, Weeks hasn't completely drawn the ire of fans. But that could be just a matter of time.
New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors since mid-August. Considering he retore the anterior capsule in his left shoulder, he likely won't pitch again this year.
During that time, Santana will have made more than $30 million.
That is one expensive disabled list stint.
Speaking of disabled pitchers, New York Mets reliever Frank Francisco has no current timetable for his return.
According to manager Terry Collins, Francisco, who underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow, is still unable to throw every day.
"He's got to be able to throw back-to-back days, which he has not even gotten close to yet," Collins told Spencer Fordin of MLB.com. "We need to do that, and then we can put a timetable on it."
Francisco was largely inconsistent last year, posting a 5.53 ERA with 23 saves. Francisco spent over a month on the disabled list with a strained oblique, missing the entire month of July.
New York Mets center fielder Collin Cowgill started off his career in the Big Apple with a bang, delivering a grand-slam home run on Opening Day.
Since then, Cowgill is hitting just .146 with one home run and five singles.
Cowgill has spent more and more time on the bench while Jordany Valdespin and even Juan Lagares have played in front of him.
For a team in desperate need of some punch, Cowgill has fallen far short thus far.
Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jarrod Parker has suddenly gone from terrific to horrific.
Parker posted a 13-8 record and 3.47 ERA in 29 starts last year, clearly signaling that he was ready to be a solid front-line starter for years to come.
However, aside from a hard-luck outing against the Tampa Bay Rays on Apr. 20, Parker has looked lost this season.
He's now 0-4 with an 8.10 ERA and opposing batters have him figured out, hitting .374 against him.
A's manager Bob Melvin will likely give Parker a bit of wiggle room, but unless he straightens out his mechanics soon, he'll be back in Sacramento working on those issues.
The Philadelphia Phillies have to be absolutely thrilled that catcher Carlos Ruiz returned on Sunday from his 25-game suspension.
His replacement—Erik Kratz—hit just .191 during his absence, contributing a minus 0.5 WAR in the process.
The Phillies stayed somewhat afloat during Ruiz's absence with an 11-14 record, but they'll need all hands on deck in order to compete with the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves in the NL East. That simply wasn't going to happen with Kratz behind the plate full time.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in second place in the NL Central Division with a 14-10 record, and they can largely thank their pitching staff for their position in the standings.
They certainly can't thank their shortstops, at least in terms of offensive performance.
Clint Barmes entered play on Sunday with just a .156 batting average. If he had enough at-bats to qualify, it would be the lowest average for any shortstop in the majors.
Pittsburgh shortstops in total are hitting just .145 with a .198 on-base percentage.
One fan thinks pitchers should think before facing Barmes.
If you're a pitcher and you walk Clint Barmes you should just retire right there.— Rocco C. (@ElRocco337) April 27, 2013
Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Pirates, when shortstop Clint Barmes gets a break they don't have a capable backup to capably help out offensively.
John McDonald is hitting just .067 with one single in 15 at-bats thus far.
The Pirates don't have a prospect at the ready who can be trusted with everyday play, so general manager Neal Huntington may have to come up with something creative to fix what's broken.
The San Diego Padres trotted out two pitchers at the beginning of the season who were considered the top two options in their rotation.
I hesitate to call them aces, because neither Edison Volquez or Clayton Richard qualifies as one. In fact, they'd be back-end rotation pieces on just about every other team in baseball.
Richard has been largely inconsistent, posting an 0-2 record and 7.94 ERA in four starts. He pitched a dandy on April 14 against the Colorado Rockies in allowing just two hits in six innings. He took a no-decision.
Nine days later, Richard couldn't get out of the second inning, allowing six runs on six hits to the Milwaukee Brewers.
It's that inconsistency that has plagued Richard. Opponents are hitting .319 and he's walked 11 batters in 17 innings.
Speaking of inconsistent.
Edinson Volquez qualifies under that terminology as well.
Volquez is now 1-3 with a 6.39 ERA in five starts. He's given up a .315 average to opposing hitters. There have been signs of a turnaround—Volquez gave up just two runs to the Giants in six innings on April 19. He followed up with seven scoreless innings against the Milwaukee Brewers five days later.
Volquez has very little wiggle room—he gives up a lot of hits and features a high walk rate. He straddles a tightrope with each start. It's not easy especially with fences pulled in at Petco Park, but Volquez needs to pitch like he's a No. 1 much more often than what the Padres have seen thus far.
Does anyone else feel like the San Diego Padres made a huge mistake in giving outfielder Carlos Quentin a contract extension?
Quentin's balky knees continue to be an issue this season. Thus far he's hitting just .205 with one home run.
His knees certainly slowed him down at the beginning at the season—his eight-game suspension didn't help matters, either.
But the Padres paid Quentin to be a force in the middle of the batting order—that hasn't come close to happening as of yet.
Defensively speaking, Seattle Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan is one of the best players in the game today.
It's a real shame he can't hit his way out of a paper bag.
As of Sunday morning Ryan was hitting just .138—this coming a year after he hit .194. While the defense is outstanding, the Mariners have to be tired of an automatic out at the bottom of the order.
Is it possible that Raul Ibanez has reached the end of the line in his stellar 18-year career?
His start to the 2013 season suggests that's possible.
Ibanez is hitting just .161 with two home runs thus far in his second stint with the Seattle Mariners, who were hoping for one more year of magic from his bat.
That magic has gone by the wayside.
The Seattle Mariners took a chance on trading for starting pitcher Aaron Harang, hoping that he could be an upgrade in the back of their rotation.
Thus far, they might want a refund on that chance.
Harang has struggled in all three of his starts, losing all three of them and posting an 11.37 ERA. Opposing batters are hitting a .362 off him thus far.
Inconsistency and the inability to throw strikes is the bane of every pitcher's existence. In the case of Mitchell Boggs, it's without a doubt surprising.
Boggs was stellar last season, posting a 2.21 ERA in 78 appearances with a 1.05 WHIP and 2.6 BB/9 rate.
Those numbers have ballooned this year to a 10.80 ERA, a 2.40 WHIP and a whopping 8.11 BB/9 rate. Boggs took over as closer for the injured Jason Motte but has since lost that role to Edward Mujica.
Boggs has been steady and consistent over the past three seasons, so it's likely he's going through some sort of a mechanical issue right now. But he's an enigma every time he takes the mound, not a good thing when his team needs quick outs and a steady presence.
The St. Louis Cardinals signed southpaw Randy Choate to complement left-handed pitcher Marc Rzepczynski in their bullpen.
Choate has done his job, posting a 2.70 ERA in eight appearances. Rzepczynski on the other hand—so to speak—has not.
After allowing two runs in two-thirds of an inning on Sunday, Rzepczynski now has a 7.88 ERA in nine outings. Left-handers are hitting him with equal aplomb—a .385 average as opposed to .348 against right-handed hitting.
That's the sort of performance that will give every manager headaches, not to mention a possible demotion.
There must be something about playing shortstop in Tampa Bay—none of them hit while they're there.
That seems to be the case for Yunel Escobar as well.
Heading into Sunday, Escobar was hitting just .164 with a .228 OBP. Not quite what the Rays had in mind when they signed the career .279 hitter.
Maybe Texas Rangers outfielder David Murphy is simply better suited as a reserve player.
Now that he has a defined role in the everyday lineup, he's not getting it done.
Murphy is now hitting .176 in the first month. He's played nearly every game in left field for the Rangers—maybe the shock of seeing his name penciled into the lineup every day has him rattled.
There is plenty of blame to go around concerning the Toronto Blue Jays and their 9-16 start to the season.
Infielder Emilio Bonifacio can certainly shoulder his share of the blame.
Brought over as part of the mega-deal with the Miami Marlins, Bonifacio has yet to get untracked, hitting just .190 in the month of April.
He also hasn't stolen a single base, something the Blue Jays were definitely counting on considering his 70 thefts over the past two seasons.
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle has been the model of consistency throughout his career—always around 200 innings each season with an ERA just below 4.00.
This year Buehrle has been anything but consistent.
In five starts he's posted a 6.35 ERA and has only gotten into the seventh inning in two of those starts. Opponents are hitting a healthy .306 off him as well.
With the 5.33 ERA from the Blue Jays rotation, there's blame to go around, but Buehrle thus far is nowhere near the pitcher the Blue Jays expected.
Another member of the Toronto Blue Jays rotation—and the third member of the Miami Marlins trade on this list—has given a subpar effort thus far.
Josh Johnson, thought to be a stud for the Jays, has been anything but.
He's posted a 6.86 ERA in his four starts with opposing batters having no problems figuring him out with a .329 average.
Only Jose Reyes has given the Blue Jays anything close to a quality performance among the players included in the trade with the Marlins thus far. It's no coincidence that they're now 5-10 without him in the lineup.
Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is now mired in a slump that has him hitting just .143 with 25 strikeouts in 77 plate appearances.
LaRoche won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award last year along with placing sixth in NL MVP Award balloting.
It's a safe bet he'll dig his way out of his current quagmire, but for now LaRoche is not much help to the Nationals offense at all.
Washington Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa will likely never compete for a batting title. But it wasn't expected he'd be hitting .174 for that matter, either.
That's where Espinosa finds himself heading into play on Sunday. The Nationals endured a tough stretch of games to be sure, but it wasn't made easier with several of their stars slumping.
Espinosa is more of a concern than Adam LaRoche in terms of figuring things out—he's only a .236 career hitter.
But the play from the right side of the Nationals infield is killing them right now. Both Espinosa and LaRoche need to figure things out before the Atlanta Braves run away and hide in the NL East.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.
Feel free to talk baseball with Doug anytime on Twitter.