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Insider

Myers could help Rays' sluggish offense

4/16/2013

Wil Myers had a decent game Monday night with a two-run single and two walks, raising his season batting average to .297. Of course, Myers was in Charlotte playing right field for the Durham Bulls, not in Boston with the Tampa Bay Rays. Myers is also one of the most dropped outfielders in ESPN standard mixed leagues even though little has changed with his situation in the past month. If you drafted Myers, you shouldn't be surprised he remains in Triple-A at this point.

The Rays made it clear that Myers, acquired during the winter in the James Shields deal from the Kansas City Royals, would not be rushed to the majors, even if he's seemingly ready and the Rays struggled to initially score runs. Well, they're officially struggling. On Sunday, right-hander Clay Buchholz took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Rays, and on Monday right-hander Ryan Dempster fanned 10 Rays in seven strong innings, permitting just two hits. The Rays enter Tuesday hitting .205 as a team with 35 runs scored -- only the awful Miami Marlins are worse -- with just five home runs in 12 games (nobody has hit more than one) and with an on-base percentage and slugging percentage on the wrong side of .300.

Myers could certainly help, but would the Rays deviate from their fiscally prudent path to promote him a month or two early? On a general level, fantasy owners have had to deal with significant long-term injuries, making it difficult to use bench spots on minor leaguers like Myers, Jurickson Profar and Billy Hamilton, however promising they might be. Myers hasn't homered yet for the Bulls, but at least he's drawing walks (.417 OBP). He'd certainly fit in nicely behind Evan Longoria as the No. 5 hitter. I'd try to make room on your bench for Myers, because it's going to be tough for the Rays to keep him in Durham two more months, even if it means an extra year of team control five years from now.

From a fantasy aspect, there's not much to discuss with the current Tampa Bay offense. Three Rays are 100 percent owned, and should be: Longoria homered Monday, his first extra-base hit of the season, but I have no concerns with him other than durability. Outfielder Desmond Jennings stole second base in the ninth inning Monday, his fourth of the season. He's not likely to hit much better than .250, but he's capable of 20 homers and 40 steals. And Ben Zobrist remains a top-five second baseman and shortstop, an awesome combination. After that, the No. 4-owned Rays hitter is Myers, at 19 percent.

Outfielder Matt Joyce, who generally hits right-handed pitching, is not 100 percent owned. (He currently has a .430 OPS against righties.) Shortstop Yunel Escobar is hitting .098. Second baseman Kelly Johnson is hitting .185. Frankly, it would be a surprise if Zobrist isn't playing a middle-infield spot regularly soon and Myers doesn't get the call to handle right field. Also be on the lookout for shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, first baseman Leslie Anderson and outfielder Brandon Guyer. Lee's strength is defense, but he's also hitting .412 for Durham, with seven walks in 10 games. Escobar has a .324 OPS so far. Anderson couldn't be worse than James Loney. And Guyer has that late-emerging Justin Ruggiano look about him; now 27, Guyer brings a modest combination of power and speed and would be an upgrade over Sam Fuld, Shelley Duncan, Ryan Roberts and, well, most Rays hitters.

Box score bits (AL): Minnesota Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia made his big league debut Monday and had a single in three at-bats. Arcia, who was hitting .414 with three home runs in nine games for Triple-A Rochester, was demoted immediately after the game, but his is a name to remember if Josh Willingham is traded or Chris Parmelee doesn't hit. ... Los Angeles Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos led off Monday's game with his second home run. We're still waiting for his first stolen-base attempt, but be patient. He could stick as a leadoff hitter if he hits decently. ... Interesting lineup by the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday, as righty-hitting catcher J.P. Arencibia hit No. 3 against right-hander Gavin Floyd. He homered, so it's tough to mock the move, but it's certainly unconventional. Jose Bautista sat out with back spasms. Probably has nothing to do with his playing third base over the weekend, right? In other Jays news, Brett Lawrie is expected to come off the DL on Tuesday and play third base. ... Chicago White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo, who entered Monday with four hits in 34 at-bats, had three hits Monday. Viciedo hit 25 home runs last year, but he's one of the most dropped players in ESPN leagues after two weeks. He shouldn't be. ... Red Sox right-hander Andrew Bailey failed to save Monday's game, but he did earn the win. He's also likely the team's closer now, as Joel Hanrahan (hamstring) has struggled, and a DL stint is possible.

Box score bits (NL): Washington Nationals infielder Stephen Lombardozzi started at second base for the injured Danny Espinosa (hand) and contributed two hits and an RBI. Espinosa isn't expected to need a DL stint, but Lombardozzi has modest stolen-base potential should he play regularly. ... Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander James McDonald permitted eight runs (three earned) on eight hits and two walks Monday, and retired only five St. Louis Cardinals. He now has one good start, one bad one and one in between. I'd rather pre-emptively add Cincinnati Reds prospect Tony Cingrani than own McDonald. ... Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez didn't get a hit Monday, which has been a trend; he's now hitting .073. He'll hit for power, but he can be painful to own at times like these. ... Reds manager Dusty Baker hit shortstop Zack Cozart second Monday, which is difficult to defend. Cozart doubled in four at-bats but is hitting .167 with a .180 OBP this season. The No. 2 most-dropped shortstop, after the Angels' Erick Aybar, Cozart does too much harm in batting average to own. ... Mitchell Boggs was brought in with a four-run lead to close out the Cardinals' 10-6 win Monday, but right-hander Edward Mujica was warming up for the potential save. Boggs' leash is short, and it appears Mujica is next in line.