Yoenis Cespedes is coming off the DL Friday and should continue his high strikeout, high excitement game for the Athletics. It seems like he could be playing left field moving forward, with Coco Crisp in center, so those of you in LF-CF-RF leagues may just be gaining an added weapon very soon.
AL-only leaguers take note â Vladimir Guerrero has been promoted to Triple-A after killing it at High-A. In 20 at-bats he had nine hits (.450) including four homers. I’ve said it repeatedly â I’d be shocked if the man can’t still hit. He’s not the third place or cleanup hitter he used to be of course, but every season since 1997 this guy has hit .290. I really don’t doubt that he could do that again, albeit with less power than we are used to from the borderline HOFamer. Adam Lind could be a potential roadblock to Vlad Guerrero as he’s been killing it in the minors hitting over .400 with three homers in less than 60 plate appearances since he was demoted to Triple-A. The Jays profess belief in Lind, but at the same time admitting that they placed him on waivers so that any team could have added him if they had been willing to pay his contract. The fact that no one picked him up tells you what most think about Lind right now. The real key here might be the performance of David Cooper who is playing first base for the Jays. If Copper continues to hit, he’s got seven hits in his first 21 at-bats, then Vlad and Lind will be battling for playing time at some point. If Cooper struggles, Lind could just take over at first base leaving plenty of at-bats for Vlad elsewhere. Remember, the Jays recently demoted Eric Thames, so they are clearly searching for the right offensive mix.
Yasmani Grandal might be called up by the Padres according to various reports. One of the top-60 prospects in the game according to Baseball America, Grandal likely wouldn’t be called up merely to rot on the bench as most teams are loathe to let a youngster waste away in the majors instead of playing every day in the minors. The switch hitter can see his swing get a bit long, but he hasn’t faced that issue this season as he has hit an impressive .308 with four homers and 23 RBI in 34 games at Triple-A. If he is called up this could spell doom for Nick Hundley. Signed to a contract that will pay him $7 million the next two years with a $5 million club option in 2015, Hundley has been awful at the plate. After improving for three years Hundley is hitting .169 with a .234 OBP this season (he owns a .244 career average). A Grandal call-up would likely relegate Hundley to catcher two status in NL-only leagues.
Jon Jay is hitting a robust .343 for the Cardinals this season pushing his career number up to .303 in 847 career at-bats. That’s pretty darn impressive. Alas, his wonky shoulder is still barking so the Cards have decided to shut him down from all baseball related activities for 7-10 days. That would likely set Jay back at least three weeks meaning we’re not likely to see him until late June (the same can be said for Skip Schumaker who was also placed on the DL with a hamstring strain). The good news for the Cards is that Allen Craig has been activated from the DL. Everyone’s favorite at the time he was hurt, it sure seems like with all the Cards injuries right now that Craig should pretty much be in their on a daily basis. Hitting .373 with five homers in 13 games though, I fear expectations might be a little out of control here. I know that Craig has hit .301 with 20 homers and 77 RBI in 365 career at-bats, but that’s a HOF pace that he isn’t likely to keep up. Sorry, just keeping it real here. He’s also not likely to continue along with his .400 BABIP, and if he continues to strikeout in 20 percent of his at-bats, that average has at least a 50/50 chance of ending up below his career batting average than above it. If he qualifies at second base you don’t really care as his production should be impressive for that position, but if he’s only OF eligible I’m just suggesting that you keep those expectations reasonable, that’s all.
Let me see if I’ve got this straight. Pablo Sandoval broke his hamate bone last year and it took six weeks for him to return to action. He broke his other hamate bone this year and the estimate was that he would be out 4-6. Lo and behold the Orioles seem to have some magic elixir as Nick Markakis suffered the same injury which required surgery Friday. Why do I speak of something special in Baltimore? Well the Orioles claim that Markakis will be back in 3-4 weeks. A couple of weeks here and there doesn’t sound like too much until you realize that we’re talking about a time frame that would suggest that Markakis would be a 33 percent faster healer than Sandoval. Maybe it will happen and I’ll have to admit I was wrong, but I think the smart money is on Markakis missing the entire month of June, if not more.
Kevin Youkilis is on the block according to reports. I get it, but I don’t. The Red Sox seem to have a capable replacement in Middlebrooks, but as I’ve written before, I think everyone is getting ahead of themselves with Will. I know he is hitting .316 with some impressive power (six homers, seven doubles in 95 at-bats), but he’s never flashed a power bat of this level at any point of his career. Second, Middlebrooks still has four walks in 24 games. Four. That has led to a 0.14 BB/K mark that is one third of the big league average. The simple fact is this. When a player doesn’t know how to work the count and take a walk no one cares when he is lashing liners all over the field. However, when the inevitable slump hits, an it will, that lack of discernment and patience at the dish can cause things to get ugly, quickly. Let’s not forget either that the more teams see Middlebrooks the more that they will âget a book on him.â Once teams find his weaknesses, and they will, they’ll pound him until he proves capable of making the adjustments. It all looks wonderful right now, but consider me less excited then most until I see how Will adjusts.
As for Youkilis, he is 33 years old and has dealt with his fair share of injuries the past few years. However, he’s also due $13 million next year, or a $1 million buyout, so the Sox aren’t likely to get full value if they do intend to move him. Still, the guy has looked like the Youkilis of old in the nine May games he has performed in since returning from injury. Youkilis is hitting .313 with a .371 OBP and .903 OPS as he’s scored seven times while hitting two big flies. Moreover, though most seem to think he is washed up, he has hit 21 homers with 92 RBI and 89 runs scored over his last 147 games. That’s still some pretty impressive production, is it not? Now the .255 batting average in that time must improve for him to return to the level of elite producers at third base, but there isn’t a person out there who wouldn’t take a third baseman who hits .255-21-92-89 for a season, is there?
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray’s baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.
Tags: Adam Lind, Allen Craig, MLB, Nick Hundley, Nick Markakis, Pablo Sandoval, Skip Schumaker, Vladimir Guerrero, Yoenis Cespedes