Sunday, December 10, 2006

Jay Payton headed to Baltimore and other news

I always liked JayPay. Sure, he had a pretty abysmal OBP, but he also didn't strike out too much. He was an aggressive contact hitter who played the game with the energy of a rookie and simply wanted to play, no matter what. My brain tells me Jay Payton is better off somewhere else but my heart tells me Jay Payton will be missed. He is headed for Baltimore to be their everyday RF.

With the Goleski pick in the rule-5 draft and the signing of Piazza as DH, the A's OF is starting to take focus. Goleski will most likely sit the bench - if he does well in Spring Training - as the A's fifth OF. That leaves a tandem of Kostay/Bradley in CF, both of whom are injury risks, and Kielty/Swisher handling the corners. Swisher's bat will keep him in the OF on a regular basis, but Kielty will be the odd-man out when both Kotsay and Bradley are healthy. Still, Kielty should expect more at bats than previous seasons: he's coming off his best year since coming over to the A's, he has a career OBP just a tick above 0.350, and he mashes left handed pitching. Kielty should be in the lineup everytime the A's face a left handed starter, Kotsay-be-damned, and Geren better check the job section of the newspaper if he doesn't.

Beane has also cleared up Dan Johnson's status on the team, so we can expect the A's to stick with DJ through his ups-and-downs at 1B and possibly the occasional DH role:

At this point, Beane said, the plan is for Nick Swisher to start in the outfield and to have Dan Johnson be the everyday first baseman. Beane said it is tempting to have Swisher's fielding ability at first base, but that giving Johnson another opportunity to play every day is more important.

"I just want to leave D.J. alone and let him hit," Beane said. "We're all big fans of D.J., and he's hit his entire career. He got off to a rough start last year, and it was sort of an uphill climb."

Emphasis mine. I'm a big fan of Dan Johnson as well and I was pretty disappointed to see him sent down, just when he was heating up (he hit 0.321 / 0.406 / 0.543 with 4 HR in June before being sent down). I think it's wise to stick with DJ and see what he does come 2007. He's a young player with less than 2 full seasons of major league duty under his belt, and he certainly has shown he can hit better than Crosby.

It will be interesting to see if Beane manages to snag a decent starting pitcher before Spring Training, but I doubt it will happen. It will be fun to watch Joe Kennedy, Brad Halsey, and Kirk Saarloos compete for the starter's job left vacant by Zito. Certainly none of them will be able to replace Zito, but I was impressed with Kennedy in the relief role last season. At the very worst we have 2 pitchers at AAA-Sacto very close to the major league level in Komine and Windsor should we run into any trouble. A strong and healthy Harden easily fills the gap left by Zito, since he barely pitched last season, so barring any long-term injuries and hopefully some improvement from players like Crosby and Chavez and the A's may just repeat or exceed their performance from last season.


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