I love the fact that Mike Aviles could barely play for the Royals and now he’s the starter for the Sox. It really is a great story. When he finished up April at .291 with 5 home runs and 17 RBI it seemed that the Red Sox had a pretty good option at leadoff while Jacoby Ellsbury was on the DL, and the fact that the Sox’ huge payroll could only muster a cast-off SS didn’t bother people as much as it normally would have.
Then Aviles started to play more games, resulting in more at-bats, which lead to more chances for his weaknesses to be exposed to scouts. It happens all the time – guys start out hot and then the report gets out that they can’t handle a good fastball in, or they always chase off-speed out of the zone when the count gets to two strikes. The next thing you know the numbers drop and it becomes clear to everyone why nobody had heard of this guy before the season started.
Maybe Aviles can pull out of this slump, maybe he won’t. If you just look at the stats from yesterday they would seem encouraging (2-for-4, 2 RBI), but did you see the two hits? One was an ass-out poke to right center that Aviles just ran in to. The second was a 304 foot pop fly that Mike Carp spazzed out on and let drop in a couple feet in front of the wall. These weren’t well-hit gappers, just a dink and a dunk. Even with yesterday Aviles is only hitting .196 in May.
Shop Aviles around a little bit and see what you can get. He is still the 7th ranked shortstop in ESPN leagues, so there is value to be had there, but Aviles’ value may never be higher than it is right now. He’s already lost his leadoff spot, so reaching the levels of production that he was in April will get harder and harder, nevermind that with every at bat the book on Aviles grows.
It may only be a little while longer now before we see exactly why he could barely play for the Royals.
Rafael Soriano – Soriano had 45 saves in 2010. 45!! Then he went and signed a fat contract and promptly sucked all of 2011. This year has been a little up and down, but the signs were there that Soriano was finally getting comfortable in New York. Flash to now and Rivera is gone for the year and his replacement David Roberston is out with a strained oblique. Soriano has a chance to grab the closer’s gig for the rest of the year. Grab him while you can.
Jose Tabata – Over the last seven days, Tabata has hit .286 out of the leadoff spot with 4 of his 8 hits going for extra bases. He has also scored six runs which is crucial for keeping his leadoff spot. Tabata can be a source for steals as well, and as long as he doesn’t have a stretch like he had to begin the season, then the at-bats will be there.
Yonder Alonso – After a slow start that saw him sitting around .250, Alonso had hit .360 in May. Even though the power numbers will never be there because Petco park was built large enough to make sure Ken Caminiti didn’t kill people sitting in the outfield stands, the runs and RBI have been adding up of late. Alonso seems to have finally adjusted to the move from Cincinnati.
Christian Friedrich – Back to back starts have showed that Friedrich has the stuff to stay with the big club. He has 17 K’s in only 13 innings so far and appears more than major league ready. A few more of these starts and he will soon be off the wire. Get there before everybody else. Friedrich attacks hitters with fastballs and uses his off-speed as his finishing pitches, which is a recipe for success when you’re a young lefty. The endorsement from the Rockies manager would make it seem that Friedrich is here to stay.
Michael Morse – Morse is targeting a June 8th return and is still available in some leagues. If he is sitting on your wire, add him if your in need of some of some outfield support. Morse is a monster when healthy and the reports are that he wanted to come back ahead of schedule he feels so good.
It’s Almost Time For Manny…
He’s going to start playing minor league games and should be back by the end of the month. What he’ll be able to do is solely dependent on whether or not he gives a shit. Even at 40 he still has the sweetest right-handed swing in the game. The only question will be if there is anything behind it.