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.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.