The business of baseball can be cruel and unpredictable.
If a team wants to win games, they must put feelings aside and make the best business decision for their club.
These decisions are not always good news for young or struggling players.
A number of factors may contribute to the demotion of a player including age, experience, performance and even attitude.
The demotion itself may be a decrease in playing time, a bench role, moving a starting pitcher to the bullpen, reassignment to the minors or even outright release.
The following is a list of 20 players who are likely to be demoted in the near future.
After a very bad 2010 season in Arizona, Mark Reynolds joined the Orioles, hoping to rebound in 2011. So far, that has not happened.
In his first 38 games, Reynolds hit only .183 with 17 RBI.
While the options may be limited for the Orioles, they may need to start looking in their farm system for an upgrade.
Mired in a season-long slump, Rays short stop Reid Brignac did not even see an extra base hit until May 12, 2011.
With that out of the way, Brignac is still hitting only .185 in his first 32 games. His playing time has diminished as a result.
Brignac still has minor league options, although they did not send him down after Evan Longoria came off the DL.
However, if his numbers do not pick up soon, Brignac will be back in Triple-A until he finds his swing again.
Although lefty specialists for a bullpen are hard to come by, Clay Rapada may be pitching himself out of the role in Baltimore.
In only 5.2 innings of work, Rapada has surrendered seven runs for an 11.12 ERA as of May 15, 2011.
The Orioles have another lefty in the pen, veteran Michael Gonzalez, but he has not been much better.
The team would risk losing Rapada on the waiver wire if they send him down, but if he does not clean up his act soon, they may not care.
Matt Thornton started the year as the White Sox closer. But when he faltered, Chris Sale was given a shot at the role.
Since that time, Sale has blown one of his two save chances and has an ERA over six as of May 15, 2011.
Now, Sale finds himself in the same pickle as Thornton. Sergio Santos was handed the closer role in late April, supplanting Sale.
But even without the pressure of closing games, Sale still struggled in later appearances.
The Sox have options with this rookie.
Although he had some good outings of late, if Sale struggles again, he may find himself in the minors to work on his command.
After posting a 3.80 ERA with the Phillies in 2010, the Indians took a chance in signing reliever Chad Durbin to a one-year deal for 2011.
But Durbin has not performed well. In fact, he has the distinction of being statistically the worst pitcher on the Indians roster with a 6.14 ERA as of May 15, 2011.
There is good news for the Indians, though. Durbin says he has figured out the problem with his cutter and will be able to adjust.
But if he does not, the Indians are only paying him $800,000, so it would be easy to cut him if they want to go in another direction.
Over the last two seasons with the Royals, Kyle Davies has not posted an ERA under five.
In 2011 through his first eight starts, his ERA is an awful 7.08 with a 1-5 record.
Granted, Davies has not been given much run support. But he also gives up over three runs a game on a regular basis.
Right now, another Royals starter, Bruce Chen, is on the DL. Vin Mazzaro has filled in for him.
If Mazzaro blossoms during this time, Davies may find himself out of the rotation when Chen returns.
Starting the year as the Twins closer, Joe Nathan has been demoted once already—he currently shares setup duties with Glen Perkins.
After having Tommy John surgery last year, Nathan has had trouble adjusting on his return to the majors.
As of May 15, Nathan has posted a 7.43 ERA and the team is wary of using him on back-to-back days.
The Twins are paying Nathan a lot of money, so they will do everything they can to keep him pitching. He is owed $11.25 million this year with a $2 million buyout next year.
But if his struggles continue, Nathan may find himself either bumped down to earlier innings or with a lot less playing time.
Hits for Josh Thole are hard to come by these days. In his first 33 games, Thole is hitting only .222 with 10 RBI.
And while he is not yet in a platoon with backup Ronnie Paulino, it may happen soon. Paulino is crushing the ball against lefties and batting .370 in 10 games so far.
There have also been issues with Thole behind the plate, as he is having trouble catching R.A. Dickey's knuckleballs.
As his playing time decreases, Thole may be demoted into a platoon with Paulino or lose the starting job altogether.
The Phillies have been plagued with injuries all year. As a result, Scott Mathieson was given another shot at a bullpen role after two Tommy John surgeries and time in Triple-A.
But as players come off the DL, Mathieson is likely to be on the chopping block.
Since being called up on May 7, Mathieson has been used only once—there is a reason for that.
In one inning, Mathieson walked two batters and allowed two hits, narrowly escaping a huge disaster. His previous trips to the majors have been very similar as well.
He cannot hold inherited runners and gets wild when he is nervous.
While it is uncertain how much longer the Phillies will wait for Mathieson to be major league ready, he will be going back to Triple-A very soon.
The Nationals have a lot of problems. As a team, they are hitting only .225—dead last in all of baseball. This team needs a spark.
One of the worst offenders has been first baseman Adam LaRoche. He hit .188 in his first 38 games and has struck out 32 times.
The larger issue is that the Nationals do not have many options. Matt Stairs can play first, but in a pinch-hitting role, he has been awful.
But if the Nats think Stairs might hit with more playing time, then LaRoche could get bumped or forced into a platoon.
The Cubs starting rotation is a big mess.
Starters Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner are on the DL, forcing players like Casey Coleman and James Russell to fill in.
Neither has been good and Russell has already been demoted to the bullpen as he is carrying a 7.22 ERA. Coleman gave up six runs in only 4.1 innings in his last start.
But Wells is close to a return from the DL.
When he gets back, expect Coleman to be sent either to the pen or back to the minors.
Jonny Gomes was the starting left fielder for the Reds in 2010. He hit .266 with 18 homers and 86 RBI.
But in 2011, Gomes has watched his production go way down and he is only hitting .186 in his first 36 games.
On Sunday, the Reds announced that left field would now be a platoon between Gomes, Chris Heisey and Fred Lewis.
But that demotion may not be the last for Gomes. Both Heisey and Lewis are hitting well.
Gomes may see his playing time continue to dwindle as a result and he may even end up on the bench.
At only 23 years of age and 12 games played in the majors, Aneury Rodriguez has had a very strange ride already.
Rodriguez started the year in the Astros bullpen and got off to a very rocky start which included a suspension for intentionally hitting a batter.
He was then thrust into the starting rotation where things also did not go smoothly.
After a good first outing, Rodriguez gave up five runs in each of his next two starts.
This rookie may find himself either back in the bullpen or back in the minors very soon.
Nothing ever seems certain in the world of relief pitchers. Such has been the case with Brewers righty Kameron Loe.
In his seventh major league season, Loe has struggled with both control and confidence.
His BB/9 ratio has jumped to 4.40 while his ERA sits at 5.40 through May 15, 2011.
Although Loe is owed $1.25 million this year, if he continues to have issues, he may get demoted.
Starter James McDonald has varied from bad to inconsistent this year with the Pirates.
In his first eight games, McDonald has a 6.20 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP.
When the Pirates acquired McDonald from the Dodgers last year, they hoped to bring new life to the rotation.
So far, McDonald has underperformed and seems to have mechanical issues.
This being the case, he may find himself demoted to the pen or the minors if he cannot clean up his act.
Veteran pitcher Ryan Franklin has had a very rough year. That may be an understatement.
In 13.2 innings through May 15, 2011, Franklin has a 9.88 ERA and opponents are hitting .393 against him.
Franklin was already demoted from the closer role after blowing four out of five saves.
But the decreased pressure has not helped at all. Franklin is still unable to get outs.
Last year, Franklin told the press that this would be his last year and he plans on retiring.
But with his current status, Franklin may be forced into early retirement if his pitching does not drastically improve.
Rather than sauntering out slowly for a graceful exit, Franklin could be quickly pitching his way right out of baseball.
After hitting .284 with 26 home runs in 2010, the D-Backs expected more of the same from Kelly Johnson this season.
But so far, Johnson has been a disappointment.
Through his first 37 games, Johnson is hitting only .185. In the second week of May, Johnson was given several days off in an attempt to get him out of the slump.
But when Johnson returned to the lineup, the struggles continued.
If he does not break out of it soon, look for Johnson to spend more time on the bench.
When Dodgers relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton was sent to the DL earlier this month, Kenley Jansen was recalled from Double-A Chattanooga to fill the spot.
Jansen struggled in his first call-up, but the second time around, he has shown improvement.
Even so, Jansen's pitching experience has been limited as he started his career as a catcher. Jansen transitioned to relief pitching in 2009.
With the lack of experience, it is logical to think that Jansen will spend more time seasoning in the minors once the Dodgers get some players back.
Entering his third year in the majors and with the Padres, Mat Latos has a lot more to worry about than the missing "t" in his first name.
Until he beat the Rockies on May 15, 2011, Latos had not won a game since September 7, 2010.
The 10-game losing streak has many wondering how long the Padres will stick with Latos.
The win helps. But if Latos, who still has minor league options, slides into another funk, he may end up getting demoted.
Yes, Barry Zito is still on the disabled list with a right mid-foot sprain. However, he began throwing off a mound last week and is close to returning.
But when Zito does come back, it may not be in his regular starting role.
Ryan Vogelsong has pitched very well in Zito's place and could wind up keeping his spot in the rotation, thus relegating Zito to the bullpen.
In his three starts before going on the DL, Zito posted a 6.23 ERA and did not win a game. Vogelsong has a 3-0 record and 2.36 ERA.
If not for Zito's hefty salary, this would be a total no-brainer for the Giants.