BP: Filling five problematic positions

April, 21, 2010
4/21/10
12:17
PM ET
You don't always have to settle for a patch -- sometimes it pays to go with a whole new suit. Take the Astros' predicament while Lance Berkman was out. Pedro Feliz or Geoff Blum at first base -- what were the Astros thinking? Their hands were somewhat forced by the seven-man bullpen and the 40-man roster, but let's face it, when the in-house alternative is a non-rostered repeat reject Chris Shelton, it wasn't like they had a Plan B. That said, a number of teams have problem positions -- but also on-hand aid they should plug and play.

Atlanta Braves
Problem: Corner offense from a lineup with a .255 True Average (11th in the NL).
Solution: More Eric Hinske (.280 TAv 2008-10).

Troy Glaus has had a fine career, but he's 18 months and a major shoulder surgery removed from everyday play at first base, and he's struggling. Melky Cabrera's gone from leading off on Opening Day to someone the Braves don't trust. Whether spotting for Glaus at first base against tougher right-handers, or for Cabrera in left when they can risk Hinske's DH-worthy outfield glove when ground-ballers Derek Lowe or Tim Hudson take the bump, the lineup needs more of the lefty slugger.

San Francisco Giants
Problem: Todd Wellemeyer in the rotation.
Solution: Anybody else.

Whatever black magic veteran hurlers benefit from while working with Dave Duncan in St. Louis, Wellemeyer wasn't getting any benefit there last season (5.89 ERA), and watching him get lit up now (9.58 ERA) should remind people that by April, you really need to take down the Christmas tree. Even if prospect Madison Bumgarner isn't ready, the Giants can easily turn to organizational soldiers Joe Martinez or Kevin Pucetas, and get back that 40-man roster slot spent on Wellemeyer.

Cleveland Indians
Problem: The Lou Marson Era behind the plate.
Solution: You can't go wrong playing some Santana.

The Indians are in the mediocre AL Central, so you have to consider them contenders by default. And with a .233 team TAv that ranks 28th in the majors, they can't afford to skip scoring all season. Marson was supposed to be a good catch-and-throw guy with just enough offense that maybe he'd stick around. He's been hopeless at the plate (-.117 TAv), and scouts haven't been impressed with his receiving skills now that he's handling big league pitchers. Meanwhile, all-world catching prospect Carlos Santana is destroying the International League, hitting .341/.413/.683, which translates to a .351 TAv in the bigs. The Indians are obviously trying to delay his service time, but they're minimizing their already slim playoff chances in the process.

Chicago White Sox
Problem: Getting offense at DH and Catcher.
Solution: It's springtime, so plant Flowers.

It's already just a matter of time before left-handed-hitting catching prospect Tyler Flowers arrives to stay in The Show. He's already off to a decent start at Triple-A Charlotte (translated .261 TAv), and the South Side needs runs, ranking 27th in MLB in True Average at .243. A.J. Pierzynski (.145 TAv) is cold at the plate and in the walk year of his contract. And while Mark Kotsay is a popular bench player, he's not a starting DH (.127 TAv). Between the DH at-bats against right-handers and the opportunity to sit Pierzynski to get Flowers time behind the plate, the Sox should squeeze in Flowers as soon as possible.

Oakland Athletics
Problem: Offense from outfield and DH.
Solution: Play Jake Fox now or Chris Carter and Michael Taylor later.

Fox may be a bad defender at all five corners (since he's also the club's backup catcher), but his PECOTA-projected .275 TAv shouldn't go to waste while Travis Buck, Rajai Davis, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Eric Chavez are all struggling. Davis has to play center with Coco Crisp on the DL, and Bob Geren's been mixing and matching, but he may as well give Fox some more reps as there is a good chance he's the best hitter of the bunch.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

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