Catching changes and a surging backstop highlight the piece before we touch on a handful of players who are currently on the shelf with some form of injury. Oh, there’s also some news about Carlos Zambrano being demoted to the bullpen as well (no one should shed a tear at that).
John Jaso has been tearing it up of late. I’m seriously (that’s a reference to Cartman of South Park fame for those of you that didn’t pick it up). The last three weeks Jaso is hitting .379. If that was all there was you would be pumped. However, he’s also posted a .500 OBP, a massive number. Add in a .586 SLG and you have a guy who hasn’t just been good, he’s been an offensive force for weeks. On the year Jaso owns an elite, no hyperbole here, slash line of .287/.392/.476. A year after hitting just .224 Jaso has seen his offensive production surge thanks to the return of his batting eye. After walking 59 times against just 39 Ks in 2010 (leading to an otherworldly 1.51 BB/K ratio), Jaso produced a 2011 effort that saw that number cut in half (0.69). This season he’s back to a nearly 1:1 ratio at 0.93, and that has keyed his turn around. Given his approach he could be a .280 hitter, but that power he’s flashing right now, that’s not likely to continue. After hitting 10 homers in 198 games the past two years Jaso’s gone deep five times in 61 games this season as his SLG is nearly .090 points elevated when compared to his career mark. What a waiver-wire pickup Jaso has been.
Speaking of catchers, the A’s made two moves with their backstops, and neither involved the pathetically awfully Kurt Suzuki who is hitting .213 with one homer and 17 RBIs in 253 at-bats (honestly, how is it possible to be that bad for that long? Suzuki has a .247 OBP and that’s seven points below his career batting average). Oh, Suzuki is also hitting a mere .194 over his last 26 games so it’s not like he’s been able to turn anything around. First, the A’s sent the power arm of Fautino De Los Santos to the Brewers in exchange for George Kottaras. Unfortunately Kottaras hasn’t been a hell of a lot better than Suzuki this year in terms of production (.209-3-12 in 86 at-bats), and he’s hit a sickly .221 during his big league career. He does have some pop though with 18 homers in 507 career at-bats (he’s also scored, and knocked in, 65 runs). He’s done one thing this season that the A’s love, and that is he’s taken the walk. Kottaras has struck out 24 times on the year, less than the total of 29 walks that he has drawn. Kottaras will share the catching duties with Suzuki because… Second, the Derek Norris experiment, for now, has been a total failure. Norris recently went 0-for-30, a dreadful spell of ineffectiveness, though he’s still hit three homers with a .195 batting average over 21 games numbers that, amazingly, are better than Kurt Suzuki in that time. Still, the club is going to go with the veteran behind the dish while Norris will be sent back to the minors to work on some things right now. Given the ineffectiveness of Suzuki, Kottaras has got to be a pretty nice add for those of you in search of catcher depth in an AL-only league.
The Marlins decided that enough was enough, so they inserted Wade LeBlanc into their starting lineup Monday as he’ll replace Big Z, Carlos Zambrano. LeBlanc will start Wednesday for the Marlins, but they are fooling themselves if they think his strong 15.2 innings of work this season (1.15 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) means he’s going to take off as a starter. He won’t. LeBlanc owns a 4.37 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, not to mention a mere 6.26 K/9 mark and 1.85 K/BB ratio, in 309 innings as a big league pitcher. He doesn’t own one outstanding skill, not in the least, and he’s giving up a boatload of fly balls this season that haven’t hurt him â€“ yet (his 0.57 HR/9 mark is less than half of his career 1.31 rate). When that number begins to normalize, look out. As for Zambrano he’s been a blah as blah can be of late. In his last eight starts he’s failed to go seven innings one time, and each time he’s taken the hill he’s given up three or four earned runs. As a result his ERA has gone fro 2.81 to 4.54 in a hurry he’s going 2-6 in his last 10 starts. Part of the blame is obviously his lack of control as he’s currently sporting a 5.24 BB/9 mark which would be a career worst (I’m throwing out his 7.2 inning season in 2001).
INJURIES PILING UP
Andrew Bailey (thumb) is set to start his rehab game action Wednesday. The expectation is that Bailey might need at least 2-3 weeks before he’ll get a chance to be recalled. Alfredo Aceves will continue to handle the 9th for the Red Sox, and at this point it’s far from certain that Bailey will end up in the 9th inning at any point this season.
Ryan Braun (blister) will not play Monday due to blisters. It should be a minor issue, just a bump in the road as they say. Still, the guy has totally put behind him all that PED crapola with a season that’s on par with his effort last year.
2012: .308-44-112-107-28 (pace)
Alejandro De Aza (wrist) is back in action for the Sox as is A.J. Pierzynski (oblique). De Aza doesnâ€™t have a big name, but the guy is on pace to push nearly 30 steals while scoring 100 runs, so his return to the lineup clearly is a nice boost for the club.
Matt Garza (triceps) threw a bullpen Monday an it was reported that it went very well. The hope is that he will be able to return to action later this week, though this injury likely made it impossible to deal him before the deadline. To bad too since he has allowed three or fewer earned runs in eight of his last nine trips to the hill.
Jim Thome (neck) is out of the lineup for the 3rd straight game Monday. He’s on his way back to Baltimore to have an MRI done, but this clearly doesn’t sound like a positive development for the vaunted slugger who has hit .265 with a .375 OBP over the last two weeks.
Mark Trumbo injured a rib during BP Sunday and the result is a dislocated rib on his right side. He won’t play Monday but the felling is that he should be back in action very soon (possibly Tuesday). This is another reason though to be concerned with Trumbo. The average is down to a still impressive .304, but have you noticed that even though he’s gone deep 27 times that he’s scored only 49 runs this season? Think of that. Only 22 times this season, when he didn’t knock himself in, has Trumbo scored a run.
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.