Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A's opening day roster beginning to take shape

It was just 2 weeks ago that I made a fairly bold prediction that Ryan Goleski wasn't going anywhere over at A Minor Consideration. Particularly considering the trouble the A's went through acquiring Goleski in the rule 5 draft and the fact that they will be without Kotsay for several months.

Well, it appears the A's brass may have other plans and Ryan Goleski may not be part of their future, which would make him a $100k gamble that didn't work out:

He's not likely to play there often, but if Perez is an emergency option in the outfield, it could affect the breakdown of the roster. Perhaps the A's could go without a utility player, which is something they've considered adding with center fielder Mark Kotsay out of action for two months or more.

"A big part of our success this year will be versatility,'' manager Bob Geren said.

Perez, who hit .102 last year in limited use, is 10-for-22 with four doubles and eight runs over his past 10 games.

"Seeing Antonio right now, he looks like the guy we traded for,'' special assistant to the general manager Billy Owens said.

Perez, who handled two groundball singles and one flyball Sunday, has played in the outfield before -- one whole inning while with the Dodgers in 2005.

"He can fill in in an emergency,'' said outfield coach Tye Waller, who has been working with Perez. "He's a good athlete, he runs well, he's got good instincts.''

It also helps, as mentioned above, when you have a hot bat in Spring Training (0.341 BA / 0.440 OBP / 0.537 SLG - 7 BB to 10 SO), whereas Goleski decidedly does not (0.162 BA / 0.205 OBP / 0.189 SLG - 37 AB, only 2 BB to 13 SO). I've always said Spring Training stats don't count for too much (look at Kendall and Chavez in Spring Training) but it's obvious that Goleski's weak performance at the plate is lowering his chances of sticking with the A's.

Geren's comment about versatility being a big part of the A's success this year is important. It ties in nicely with this article from Sports Illustrated yesterday about the same subject:

Is there any team in baseball that adapts quite like the A's? They are the Sultans of Scramble, the Masters of Making Do. We're still two weeks away from the 2007 regular season and Oakland -- the reigning American League West champ, a playoff participant in five of the past seven years, going for a ninth straight winning season -- already is in full improv mode. It's as if the A's plan to wing it. Or at least plan on having to wing it.

If you want to praise Billy Beane, the team's outside-the-box general manager, for the A's ability to adapt, that's probably a good place to start. He has built a team of moveable and manageable parts, a roster stacked with versatile and largely selfless players. That's helped a lot these past couple of years and, already, it looks like it will be coming in handy again this one.


Scutaro and, especially, Swisher have demonstrated just how important a willing, versatile player can be. Decent infield utility players like Scutaro who can play for long stretches of time are hard to come by. And a guy who can play both first and the outfield like Swisher -- often flipping back and forth in the same week or the same game -- is even harder to find.

"I talk to them all about the team-first type of play," says new manager Bob Geren, who also points out his bendable pitching staff (Joe Kennedy can be anything from a lefty setup man to a starter) and said he's talked to young infielder Antonio Perez about playing outfield. "We don't have selfish players in this organization."

Emphasis mine. The message is clear: we value versatility and if you want to play for us and you want increased playing time, then be prepared to juggle more than one position. That's why there's been talk of Melhuse spending some time at 3B occasionally. That's why we'll once again see Swisher bouncing back and forth between the OF and 1B. Marco Scutaro will once again reprise his role as super-sub for the infield and it's telling that Perez, whom many considered a disaster at the plate last year, is being asked to fill in for the OF.

From the looks of things, Perez will be on the opening day roster with Goleski the odd-man out and being sent back to Cleveland. That means a starting outfield of Stewart, Bradley, and Swisher, with Kielty most likely getting significant playing time vs LHP and Perez as an emergency back up. Here's how things are looking so far:

Dan Haren - SP
Rich Harden - SP
Esteban Loaiza - SP
Joe Blanton - SP
??? - SP (up in the air thanks to Kennedy's poor performance - could be Kennedy, Halsey, or even Windsor)

Huston Street - RP
Justin Duchscherer - RP
Kiko Calero - RP
Chad Gaudin - RP
Alan Embree - RP
Jay Witasick - RP
??? - RP (depends on what happens with the fifth starter position)

Shannon Stewart - OF
Milton Bradley - OF
Nick Swisher - OF
Bobby Kielty - OF

Dan Johnson or Erubiel Durazo - 1B/DH
Mike Piazza - DH
Mark Ellis - 2B
Bobby Crosby - SS
Eric Chavez - 3B
Marco Scutaro - IF
Antonio Perez - IF/OF

Jason Kendall - C
Adam Melhuse - C/3B

Anything can happen between now and Opening Day, but as the A's continue to make moves in Spring Training the picture is becoming clearer.


Post a Comment

<< Home