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.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.