Thursday, March 08, 2007

How will Kotsay's absence affect the A's?

By now everyone is aware that Kotsay, after checking with 3 different doctors, has elected to have back surgery to hopefully fix his ailing back once and for all:

Kotsay, who has had a chronic lower-back problem since 2003, said the arthroscopic surgery will be performed today by Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles.

"We have a solution," Kotsay said in a phone interview Wednesday night, adding he'll be out of action eight to 12 weeks. He wouldn't be cleared to begin light rehabilitation until after a three- to four-week healing process.

This means, best-case-scenario, we can expect Kotsay to return to action sometime in June. The question is: how is this going to affect the A's?

While it certainly isn't good news for the A's, on the bright side it opens things up for some players who were probably wondering about their standing with the team. Ryan Goleski, acquired through the rule 5 draft, just became a likely certainty to make the 25-man roster, which I discussed over at A Minor Consideration. Dan Johnson can probably relax a bit knowing that Swisher will spend the bulk of his time in the OF now and not have to worry about the A's demoting or trading him (neither of which, in my opinion, he would deserve). Geren won't have to worry, at least for the near future, about giving enough playing time to Shannon Stewart and Bobby Kielty.

With Kotsay (0.988 FPCT / 2.66 RF / 0.877 ZR) out, Milton Bradley will move to CF (0.986 FPCT / 2.70 RF / 0.891 ZR) with Swisher in right and Stewart in left. As long as Bradley's health holds up, CF defense should be fine. Bradley's back up for CF, should an injury befall him, will be Swisher (0.981 FPCT / 1.77 RF / 0.862 ZR - right field), who would be a defensive downgrade from both Bradley and Kotsay.

One other area Kotsay could be missed is leadership. He is widely accepted as one of the clubhouse leaders, if not THE leader, and sometimes consults with Beane & Co. The jury's still out on how his absence will affect team chemistry but luckily they still have guys like Kendall, Piazza, and Chavez who are also leaders in their own right.