Diving into the depths: Oakland Athletics

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Oakland Athletics
Rotation
1. Justin Duchscherer
2. Dallas Braden
3. Brett Anderson
4. Trevor Cahill
5. Gio Gonzalez
6. Dana Eveland
7. Vin Mazzaro
8. Clay Mortensen
9. Lenny DiNardo
10. James Simmons
Particularly since Duchscherer is such a question mark, the A’s could still really use another starter, preferably a durable one. Jarrod Washburn would make quite a bit of sense, considering that they’ve assembled an outstanding outfield defense.
The pickup of another starter would allow them to choose between Cahill and Gonzalez for one rotation spot. My preference would be to see Cahill get some Triple-A time. He’s still a fine bet for the long-term, but he has some things to work on. Also, Gonzalez has nothing left to prove in the minors. It’s time for him to sink or swim.
Bullpen
1. Andrew Bailey
2. Michael Wuertz
3. Brad Ziegler
4. Craig Breslow
5. Joey Devine
6. Jerry Blevins
7. Brad Kilby
8. John Meloan
9. Marcus McBeth
10. Henry Rodriguez
11. Sam Demel
12. Bobby Cassevah
The A’s expect Devine to be ready for the start of the season after Tommy John surgery last April. If that’s the case, he could overtake Ziegler for a setup role awfully quickly.
The big question here is whether the A’s will carry three left-handers. Breslow seems like a lock, and Blevins and Kilby are both deserving. I see this as a very strong top seven. However, if the A’s feel they need a long reliever, perhaps Eveland, then someone is going to get pushed back to Triple-A.


Catcher
1. Kurt Suzuki
2. Landon Powell
3. Josh Donaldson
First base
1. Daric Barton
2. Jake Fox
3. Eric Chavez
4. Chris Carter
5. Dallas McPherson
Second base
1. Mark Ellis
2. Aaron Miles
3. Eric Patterson
4. Gregorio Petit
Third base
1. Kevin Kouzmanoff
2. Eric Chavez
3. Jake Fox
4. Dallas McPherson
5. Aaron Miles
Shortstop
1. Cliff Pennington
2. Aaron Miles
3. Eric Chavez
4. Gregorio Petit
5. Corey Wimberly
The addition of Kouzmanoff settled Oakland’s lineup by sending Chavez to the bench and taking Hairston out of the outfield equation. I’m still not convinced it was the right direction for the team, but it cleared up some of the playing-time issues.
The A’s will have to figure out how to use Chavez and Fox now. Fox figures to play strictly against lefties if Chavez is healthy. He can get starts at first base over Barton and DH over Cust. Chavez apparently will be in the reserve mix at first base, shortstop and maybe in the outfield.
Left field
1. Rajai Davis
2. Jack Cust
3. Eric Patterson
4. Travis Buck
5. Matt Carson
Center field
1. Coco Crisp
2. Rajai Davis
3. Ryan Sweeney
4. Eric Patterson
5. Michael Taylor
Right field
1. Ryan Sweeney
2. Travis Buck
3. Jack Cust
4. Michael Taylor
5. Eric Patterson
Designated hitter
1. Jack Cust
2. Jake Fox
3. Eric Chavez
4. Landon Powell
5. Chris Carter
6. Dallas McPherson
I really didn’t think Davis would last as a regular over Hairston. Now he has a chance, though Patterson is another potentially superior option in left field. Also, Taylor could hit his way into the picture by June or July. He’ll probably play right field once he’s ready. If Sweeney is performing well enough to stay in the lineup, he can move to left.
Oakland’s bench is still up in the air. Powell is guaranteed a spot, and Fox should be. The Kouzmanoff addition would seem to suggest that McPherson won’t be a candidate for a job, even if Chavez starts off on the DL. It’s possible the A’s will just go ahead and release Miles, allowing them to keep both Chavez and Patterson. Chavez would serve as the backup shortstop and Patterson the backup second baseman in that scenario.

Former MLB player Andy Marte also killed in car accident

GOODYEAR , AZ - MARCH 06:  Andy Marte #15 of the Cleveland Indians looks on from the dugout during the spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Goodyear Ballpark on March 6, 2009 in Goodyear, Arizona. The Brewers defeated the Indians 17-7.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Compounding the tragic news of Yordano Ventura‘s passing is a report that fellow Dominican and former MLB infielder Andy Marte was also killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning. The report was confirmed by Marte’s agency, J.M.G. Baseball, as well as Marte’s former MLB clubs. No further details have been released so far.

Marte, 33, appeared for the Braves, Indians and Diamondbacks from 2005 through 2014. He was ranked in the top 10 MLB prospects by MLB.com in 2005 and held a career .218/.276/.358 batting line, 21 home runs and a .634 OPS over seven seasons in the majors. He signed with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization after the 2014 season, slashing .312 with 42 home runs in 206 games.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marte’s family and teammates during this terrible time.

Yordano Ventura and Jose Fernandez were two of the most promising arms in MLB

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 3: Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
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Baseball lost two incredible pitchers in the last four months, both to horrible and unforeseen tragedies. Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura were among the most talented and promising pitchers in MLB, two young arms that drew both accolades and criticism for their performance on the mound.

Ventura signed with the Royals in 2008, blazing through several tiers of their farm system before he was called up to replace an injured Danny Duffy in late 2013. He secured his rotation spot the following spring and finished a solid 2014 campaign with a 14-10 record, 3.20 ERA and 2.4 fWAR in 32 starts for the club. During the Royals’ World Series run later that year, Ventura dedicated his performance in Game 6 to Cardinals’ prospect Oscar Taveras, who was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic just two days earlier.

In four years with the Royals, Ventura pitched to a 38-31 record, 3.89 ERA and 6.5 fWAR. While his command and overall production rate waned, bottoming out in 2016 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.85 SO/BB rate, his dynamic pitch repertoire still kept him front and center in the Royals’ pitching staff. He brandished an electric fastball that, at its lowest point, hovered around 96.6 m.p.h. and, at its best, topped out around 102.6 m.p.h.

Like Ventura, Fernandez made an instant impression in the major league circuit. He earned Rookie of the Year distinctions in 2013 after delivering a 12-6 record, 2.19 ERA and 4.1 fWAR with the Marlins. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in his sophomore year, he recovered to take on a full workload in 2016 and stunned the league with a 16-8 record, 2.89 ERA, career-high 253 strikeouts and 6.1 fWAR.

Ventura developed a reputation for brushing back hitters, which escalated in some cases to volatile bench-clearing brawls. In 2015, he was ejected for three altercations in three consecutive games and served a seven-game suspension. Halfway through the 2016 season, he earned another eight-game suspension after plunking the Orioles’ Manny Machado in the back with a 99 m.p.h. heater. Some speculated that his aggressive behavior on the mound was excused — or, at least, made more palatable — by his talent and track record, while others called for a more heavy-handed approach from the league.

Fernandez, too, found himself at the center of speculation after reports emerged that painted the 24-year-old as a “clubhouse difficulty,” citing attitude problems that damaged relationships between the pitcher and Marlins players and staff. On the field, he was occasionally chastised for failing to adhere to some of baseball’s unwritten rules, most notably when he showed his elation after hitting his first career home run off of the Braves’ Mike Minor in 2013.

It’s impossible to predict where Fernandez and Ventura’s careers would have taken them. We mourn them not for their actions on the mound or their potential as star pitchers, however, but for their inherent value as people who were loved and respected by their families and teams. Major League Baseball will be worse off for their loss.