10 MLB Players in Danger of Losing Their Jobs After Horrid Starts
From Curtis Granderson to Clay Buchholz, there are a ton of MLB players off to horrid starts in 2014 who are on their way to losing their jobs.
While not all of the players who crack this list are as high profile as the slumping New York Mets right fielder or the struggling Boston Red Sox starter, all of them are definitely in danger of missing out on substantial playing time.
It's still April, which means there's plenty of time for these 10 slow starters to rebound. However, for their respective managers, there's no choice but to begin considering alternative options.
David Freese, 3B, Los Angeles Angels
David Freese is off to an abysmal start with the Los Angeles Angels.
The third baseman, whom the club acquired in a four-player swap with the St. Louis Cardinals, has posted a .145/.214/.210 slash line through his first 62 at-bats. That works out to a .424 OPS. Over the past 10 games, the right-handed hitter is batting .108, as he's currently mired in a 4-for-37 slump. During that stretch, the 30-year-old has punched out 15 times.
The top option to replace Freese in the Angels' lineup is Ian Stewart, who is hitting just .229 (8-for-35) in 11 games. However, Stewart has five extra-base hits, while Freese has just two, despite having nearly twice as many at-bats.
Ryan Vogelsong, SP, San Francisco Giants
Ryan Vogelsong has been serving up batting practice in his first four starts in 2014.
Through 16.1 innings of work, opponents are hitting .348 against the right-hander, who owns a 7.71 ERA. Vogelsong's most recent outing on April 21 was his worst one yet. The Colorado Rockies tagged the 36-year-old for five runs on six hits, including three home runs.
Vogelsong worked just 1.1 innings, which was his shortest outing in 82 appearances as a Giant and also the briefest of any National League starter in 2014, as Owen Perkins of MLB.com notes. Afterward, Vogelsong described his performance as "embarrassing," per Perkins.
Th Giants' top internal replacement for Vogelsong would be Yusmeiro Petit. However, based on general manager Brian Sabean's impressive track record of adding midseason acquisitions, there's also a chance the club could go the trade route if the 2011 All-Star continues to sputter.
Brian Roberts, 2B, New York Yankees
Despite collecting four hits in his two most recent games, Brian Roberts is batting just .204 in his first 54 at-bats as a New York Yankee.
The 36-year-old, of course, was brought in to play every day at second base. However, now that Mark Teixeira has returned from a DL stint, the club has options for how to arrange its infield. Manager Joe Girardi has three players in Roberts, Kelly Johnson and Yangervis Solarte to handle second base and third.
With both Johnson and Solarte outhitting Roberts in the opening weeks of the season, the veteran could end up spending a lot of time on the bench in the upcoming months.
Clay Buchholz, SP, Boston Red Sox
Clay Buchholz has endured an up-and-down start to 2014.
The right-hander has produced a couple of strong starts, but he's also turned in two outings in which he's been terrible. His most recent outing against the Baltimore Orioles on April 21 definitely fell into the latter category.
The Red Sox starter allowed six runs on seven hits while working 2.1 innings. The outing was his shortest ever at Fenway Park, as Maureen Mullen of the Boston Globe notes. Buchholz is still working on building up his arm strength after spending three months on the DL last season. Throwing just 55 pitches against the Orioles doesn't help in that regard.
Should Buchholz's early struggles continue, Brandon Workman, who is currently pitching in Triple-A, would be the logical replacement.
Carlos Santana, 3B/C, Cleveland Indians
Carlos Santana shouldn't lose his spot in the Cleveland Indians' starting lineup. With a career .803 OPS in 517 big league games, the switch-hitter is much too talented for such a drastic move. However, considering that's he currently in the midst of a 2-for-37 slump, he should definitely lose his job as the club's cleanup hitter.
The 28-year-old has started 19 games for Cleveland this year and has batted in the No. 4 spot in the lineup in all of those contests. By having him hit lower in the lineup, Santana, who is hitting .136 (9-for-66) on the year, would have the opportunity to regain swing without feeling the pressure of being one of the team's primary run producers.
Jason Grilli, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates
After totaling just two blown saves in all of 2013, Jason Grilli has already botched three save attempts in seven tries in 2014.
Two of those slip-ups came in consecutive outings against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 19 and 20. Manager Clint Hurdle pointed out to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the forgettable series against the Brewers was just the first time in more than two seasons that Grilli has turned in "back-to-back bad marks."
Hurdle is spot on in framing Grilli's early slump in the larger context and exercising patience with the reliever. However, if the 37-year-old continues to have issues closing out games, the team could have an ideal replacement in Mark Melancon.
In 2014, the setup man has produced a 1.80 ERA in 10 outings. Last year, Melancon recorded a 1.39 ERA in 71 innings, striking out 70 and walking just eight batters.
Daric Barton, 1B, Oakland Athletics
Daric Barton is on the Oakland Athletics for defensive purposes. The 28-year-old is the club's only true first baseman on the roster. However, Brandon Moss, who also spends time in the corner outfield spots and as a designated hitter, is certainly capable of playing the position as well.
The big issue with Barton is that he's essentially been an automatic out in 2014. In his first 17 games, the left-handed hitter is batting .139 (5-for-36) with one double and one RBI. If the Alberto Callaspo at first base experiment hadn't failed so miserably, Barton would likely already be out of a job.
For now, he hangs on to his roster spot, as he's simply the organization's least-worst option at this point in time.
Peter Bourjos, CF, St. Louis Cardinals
Peter Bourjos has been losing out on a ton of playing time to Jon Jay in recent days.
The center fielder has been a part of the St. Louis Cardinals' starting lineup just twice in the past five games. Throughout April, the 27-year-old has struggled to get his bat going, hitting .178 (8-for-45). He has also struck out 16 times, which is the second-most on the team to Matt Carpenter.
Meanwhile, Jay is batting .304 (14-for-46) with a .380 OBP, two doubles and nine RBI. As long as he continues producing, Bourjos will be spending a considerable amount of time on the bench.
Mike Pelfrey, SP, Minnesota Twins
Mike Pelfrey has suffered from a serious lack of command in his first four starts in 2014. In 19.2 innings of work, the veteran has issued 15 free passes, as he has allowed at least three walks in all four of his outings. All those base runners have translated into Pelfrey posting a 7.32 ERA. The 30-year-old has also given up five home runs, the most on the Twins' starting staff.
Samuel Deduno, who made 18 starts a season ago, could be an option to take over Pelfrey's spot in the rotation. Of course, with seven walks in 14.2 innings out of the bullpen, he has control issues of his own.
Curtis Granderson, RF, New York Mets
Curtis Granderson's opening weeks as a New York Met have been downright Jason Bay-ish. After 20 games, the right fielder, whom the club inked to a four-year, $60 million deal in the offseason, is hitting .125 (9-for-72). Already, he has gone down on strikes 25 times.
With center fielder Juan Lagares currently on the DL with a strained hamstring, manager Terry Collins' options in the outfield are limited. However, when Lagares returns, Collins could opt to utilize Chris Young, who so far has spent his time in left field and center, in right—especially when the Mets are facing tough left-handers.
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.
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