Running down the rosters: Oakland Athletics

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At least to the outside eye, it seems like the A’s have lacked a plan since they shipped off Matt Holliday after 93 games in 2009. It finally appeared that they were going for a full rebuild this winter, but after trading Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey and Gio Gonzalez, they re-signed Coco Crisp for $14 million, added Bartolo Colon, Seth Smith and Jonny Gomes and flirted with over-the-hill designated hitters like Manny Ramirez and Magglio Ordonez. The drive for 75 wins appears on.

Rotation
Brandon McCarthy – R
Bartolo Colon – R
Tom Milone – L
Tyson Ross – R
Graham Godfrey – R

Bullpen
Grant Balfour – R
Brian Fuentes – L
Fautino De Los Santos – R
Joey Devine – R
Jerry Blevins – L
Ryan Cook – R
Jordan Norberto – L

Disabled list: Brett Anderson (L), Dallas Braden (L)
SP next in line: Jarrod Parker (R), Brad Peacock (R), Sonny Gray (R)
RP next in line: Neil Wagner (R), Andrew Carignan (R), Travis Schlichting (L), Edgar Gonzalez (R), Evan Scribner (R)

Not only did the A’s shed Cahill and Gonzalez, but they traded two more guys who would have fit into their projected rotation for a platoon outfielder in Smith. It wasn’t necessarily a bad move — I like Josh Outman, but I doubt Guillermo Moscoso would have remained an asset as a starter — but it’s left the A’s without any experienced depth here.

I penciled in Ross and Godfrey at the bottom of the rotation, but Parker and Peacock should have opportunities to win jobs. The A’s might be better off with Ross in the bullpen anyway.

The A’s figure to add a reliever or two prior to Opening Day. There isn’t much left in free agency now, but there should be some intriguing out-of-options arms available before the end of March.

Lineup
2B Jemile Weeks – S
CF Coco Crisp – S
LF Seth Smith – L
C Kurt Suzuki – R
RF Josh Reddick – L
3B Scott Sizemore – R
DH Brandon Allen – L
1B Daric Barton – L
SS Cliff Pennington – S

Bench
C Landon Powell – R
INF Adam Rosales – R
OF Jonny Gomes – R
OF Collin Cowgill – R

Next in line: C Josh Donaldson (R), C Anthony Recker (R), 1B Kila Ka’aihue (L), 1B Chris Carter (R), INF Eric Sogard (L), OF Jermaine Mitchell (L), OF Michael Taylor (R), OF Jason Pridie (L)

I think it’s probably best for the A’s to stick with what they have now and try to figure out if Barton and Allen belong in their long-term plans. Still, it’s not hard to see why they’d want to have a Manny Ramirez in there. Putting a strong right-handed hitter in the cleanup spot would make the whole lineup look better. Suzuki could then hit sixth, with Sizemore in the eighth spot.

The only position battle in the starting lineup should be at DH, though a bad spring from Barton could open up first base. Barring an addition, Allen will compete with Gomes, Ka’aihue and Carter at DH. Gomes will certainly play against lefties, and that should be good enough for him. Gowgill should also start against lefties in place of Smith or Reddick.

The backup catcher gig is up for grabs, with Donaldson and Recker challenging Powell, who was bumped off the 40-man roster earlier this winter.

I’d like to see Sogard get a chance to overtake Rosales for the utility infield spot, but I’m not sure that will happen on day one.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.