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.

Rotation
1. Dallas Braden
2. Trevor Cahill
3. Brett Anderson
4. Gio Gonzalez
5. Brandon McCarthy
6. Rich Harden
7. Josh Outman
8. Bobby Cramer
9. Tyson Ross
10. Guillermo Moscoso
11. Anthony Capra

The Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour additions would seem to make it more likely that Harden will begin the year in the rotation, but I’m sticking with McCarthy in the fifth slot for now. He’s probably the better pitcher at this point. With the Coliseum aiding and an excellent outfield defense behind him, he could be very good while healthy.

Bullpen
1. Andrew Bailey
2. Brian Fuentes
3. Grant Balfour
4. Craig Breslow
5. Michael Wuertz
6. Brad Ziegler
7. Rich Harden
8. Jerry Blevins
9. Joey Devine
10. Tyson Ross
11. Bobby Cramer
12. Fernando Cabrera
13. Trystan Magnuson
14. Graham Godfrey
15. Vinnie Chulk
16. Mickey Storey
17. Travis Blackley
18. Willie Eyre

I don’t imagine that the A’s will keep all of these guys, but they have some crazy bullpen depth at the moment. Wuertz, Ziegler and Blevins are the best bets to go. The A’s certainly won’t need both Wuertz and Ziegler if Devine looks sharp this spring in his return from Tommy John surgery.

Catcher
1. Kurt Suzuki
2. Landon Powell
3. Josh Donaldson
4. Anthony Recker

First base
1. Daric Barton
2. Conor Jackson
3. Chris Carter
4. Adam Rosales

Second base
1. Mark Ellis
2. Adam Rosales
3. Eric Sogard
4. Andy LaRoche
5. Jemile Weeks

Third base
1. Kevin Kouzmanoff
2. Adam Rosales
3. Andy LaRoche
4. Steven Tolleson
5. Adrian Cardenas

Shortstop
1. Cliff Pennington
2. Adam Rosales
3. Steven Tolleson
4. Grant Green

Third base remains an area of concern after Kouzmanoff’s awful first year in Oakland. The A’s picked up Edwin Encarnacion, only to non-tender him three weeks later. Now they have LaRoche as a potential fallback plan, though he’ll almost certainly play regularly in Triple-A initially. Ideally, Cardenas would step up this year and challenge for the spot if Kouzmanoff falters again. … Tolleson was recently bumped from the 40-man roster, but since it looks like he cleared waivers, he’s an insurance policy on the left side of the infield.

Left field
1. Josh Willingham
2. Conor Jackson
3. Ryan Sweeney
4. Hideki Matsui
5. Chris Carter

Center field
1. Coco Crisp
2. Ryan Sweeney
3. David DeJesus
4. Jai Miller
5. Michael Taylor

Right field
1. David DeJesus
2. Ryan Sweeney
3. Michael Taylor
4. Chris Carter
5. Sean Doolittle

Designated hitter
1. Hideki Matsui
2. Josh Willingham
3. Conor Jackson
4. Chris Carter
5. Sean Doolittle

Hit hard by the injury bug so frequently in recent years, A’s GM Billy Beane has focused on building the deepest team he can, and it really shines through in the outfield and the bullpen. As a result of the Willingham and DeJesus additions, Jackson and Sweeney will be fighting for at-bats as reserves, while Carter and Taylor will both head back to Triple-A. Matsui probably won’t see any outfield time aside from interleague play.

Replay review over base-keeping needs to go

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The Red Sox are off and running in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez each hit RBI singles off of Clayton Kershaw to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.

Benintendi’s hit to right field ended with a replay review. Rather than throw to the cutoff man, right fielder Yasiel Puig fired home to try nabbing Mookie Betts, but his throw was poor. Catcher Austin Barnes caught the ball a few feet in front of and to the right of home plate, then whipped the ball to second base in an attempt to get Benintendi. Benintendi clearly beat the throw, but shortstop Manny Machado kept the tag applied. After Benintendi was ruled safe, the Dodgers challenged, arguing that Benintendi’s hand may have come off the second base bag for a microsecond while Machado’s glove was on him. The ruling on the field was upheld and the Red Sox continued to rally.

Replay review over base-keeping is not in the spirit of the rule and shouldn’t be permitted. Hopefully Major League Baseball considers changing the rule in the offseason. Besides the oftentimes uncontrollable minute infractions, these kinds of replay reviews slow the game down more than other types of reviews because they tend not to be as obvious as other situations.

Baseball has become so technical and rigid that it seems foolish to leave gray area in this regard. A runner is either off the base or he isn’t. However, the gradual result of enforcing these “runner’s hand came off the base for a fraction of a second” situations is runners running less aggressively and sliding less often so there’s no potential of them losing control of their body around the base. Base running, particularly the aggressive, sliding variety, is quietly one of the most fun aspects of the game. Policing the game to this degree, then, serves to make the game less fun and exciting.

Where does one draw the line then? To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, describing obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” This is one area where I am comfortable giving the umpires freedom to enforce the rule at their discretion and making these situations impermissible for replay review.