Andy LaRoche is 2011’s Tyson Ross
The A’s finalized their 25-man roster today. The winners in the final roster spots were Andy LaRoche as the backup infielder, Landon Powell as the backup catcher and Bobby Cramer as the final bullpen piece. I speculated in the recap to today’s game that the inclusion of LaRoche backing up Cliff Pennington today could signify he had won the battle for the backup infielder position and that suspicion was correct. LaRoche who was a non-roster invitee to camp this season becomes another non-roster guy added to the opening day roster following Tyson Ross‘ inclusion last year, and Andrew Bailey back in 2009. His strong Cactus League hitting was a reason manager Bob Geren said,
“We felt like Andy could do it. He’s had some big league experience. We’re going to go with him. He played well. He had a good spring.”
LaRoche was added to the 40-man roster by way of Adam Rosales being moved to the 60-day disabled list retroactive to the 22nd of the March due to his fractured right foot issues.
The backup catcher for the 2011 campaign will again be Landon Powell as Josh Donaldson was optioned to Sacramento. This was long suspected despite Donaldson making a push to rival Powell for the job. I feel that Donaldson earned the job, Oakland brass clearly don’t share my opinion and Powell’s addition was such a fait accompli that there are no quotes about his inclusion on the 25-man roster from him or Geren.
Meanwhile in what I think qualifies as a surprise, the A’s will have four left-handed pitchers in their bullpen as on the same day Bobby Cramer blew the game, he somehow earned the final roster spot beating out Tyson Ross. I’ve gone back and forth on Cramer, first I felt that it makes more sense to keep Ross starting in Sacramento, clearly he is more comfortable starting as opposed to relieving. Then, I felt that Cramer’s poor performance as of late – that awful start in Glendale against the White Sox, coupled with today’s loss care of a pickoff miscue with two outs in the bottom of the ninth – had killed his chances at making the big club. Speaking of today’s miscue, Geren had a funny story regarding Cramer’s inclusion on the team, as reported by Susan Slusser,
Don’t try a pickoff throw with two outs and two outs in the ninth inning with a 1-0 lead, especially on the road. And certainly don’t throw the ball into right field to set up the tying run.
Oh, and one more thing:
‘I told him he made the team,’ Geren said after Cramer blew a save opportunity and took the loss in a 2-1 decision to the Giants at AT&T Park, and still made his first Opening Night roster.”
The decision allows Tyson Ross to stay stretched out in Sacramento, Geren had high praise for the right-handed hurler saying of Ross,
“He’s [the A's] best young Minor League pitcher without a doubt, and he’s going to go down there [to Sacramento] and pitch well, and he’s going to create a spot here [in Oakland] one way or another, through competition or any injury, any bumps or bruises. Ideally, he goes down there and starts off the way he pitched in the spring and just creates a spot. He has that type of ability.”
The only other roster moves of the day were placing Andrew Bailey and Rich Harden on the 15-day disabled list – both moves were expected, Bailey with a strained forearm in his pitching arm and Harden with a strained shoulder in his pitching arm – both pitchers are right-handed.
I am still very surprised that the A’s went with LaRoche and Cramer, very happy with the inclusion of LaRoche, and little baffled by the inclusion of Cramer (both due to the four lefty thing and also due to his performance as of late) but he has such a great story that you just have to root for the guy. He isn’t someone who will let a few bad outings get in his way clearly as he has overcome a lot to get where he is. Good for you Bobby! Tomorrow there’ll be a full breakdown of the 25-man roster and the upcoming A’s season.