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Demigods, Ramirez and the Out of Options 1Bers

February 15, 2012

Yoenis Cespedes’ signing has given the A’s quite the logjam in the outfield. Cespedes, who has been a center-fielder, is threatening taking that position from A’s veteran Coco Crisp who previously was cemented in place as the club’s center fielder given his then team-highest salary. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke to Coco Crisp about this where he said about potentially losing center field,

“I’m going to make all the plays. If someone feels there’s someone better than me, it’s hard for me to believe. Unless he’s a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field.”

I love the confidence but, um… yeah… if it requires a “demigod” to outshine Coco in center field, the American League is chalk full of demigods. His 2.2 WAR ranked 18th among the 21 qualifying center fielders in 2011; his on-base percentage – incredibly important given his ability on the base paths, 19th. Let’s say he is a demigod in the field and not necessarily with the stick, FanGraphs had his fielding at a -5.5 and 14th among qualifying center fielders, second division fielding a demigod does not make. So anyhow, this assertion is laughable. But there are numerous stories which do make Crisp’s role on this team interesting.

In that same article regarding Crisp and his demigod status, Slusser wrote this,

“The A’s are likely to sign former Boston star Manny Ramirez just before or soon after the start of spring training. Ramirez wouldn’t add to the A’s outfielder total. He’d come aboard as a designated hitter after serving a 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy.”

Though he doesn’t add to the logjam in the outfield, he does add to the roster crunch logjam as the two people who seemingly would be in left field (Jonny Gomes and Seth Smith) could’ve presumably been shuttled into the designated hitter role where quite a logjam existed and now a massive one perhaps exists. There is of course the chance that Cespedes could go to right field, meaning Josh Reddick, though his cannon of an arm would be overkill there, could shift to left perhaps platooning with Smith, leaving Crisp in center. Also, it seemingly leaves Collin Cowgill and Michael Taylor plying their wares at Triple-A Sacramento without doubt at this rate. That means designated hitter at least begins as a battle of the out-of-options Brandon Allen, Chris Carter  and the also out-of-options Kila Ka’aihue (and perhaps Daric Barton depending upon his health). Furthermore one could potentially add, the very likely Gomes to that mix, and possibly even Smith or maybe Reddick. Assuming Ramirez does well in spring-training and does well in his minor league assignment prior to his return the A’s would be presented with another decision but that is neither here nor there for now.

The move to acquire Cespedes and the seemingly pending signing of Ramirez do ensure one thing, that spring training will be absolutely fascinating with a whole range of position battles. Even getting on the roster of this team could be a challenge for a lot of players as backup catcher and backup infielder seem to be the only spots that aren’t seemingly full of Major League players – whereas for the outfield it is more a question of do you win a starting job or reserve role. In the past the A’s have also been very weary of letting out-of-options players go, as we saw the likes of Jake Fox and Eric Patterson make the squad in years past when facing a similar predicament, which could give Daric Barton – who will get a late start to the spring – a trip to Sacramento as well as two members of the 1B/DH logjam in Allen and Kila are without options. If you aren’t excited for spring training, you should be – it’ll be Survivor: Oakland Athletics.

Today Yankees Fan Unite ran an interview I did with them previewing the 2012 Oakland A’s. While much has changed in this last week that changes my thoughts about the A’s, I encourage readers of this blog to check it out and also to check out the site for good stuff about the Evil Empire. 

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Hungary4A'sNews permalink
    February 15, 2012 6:52 pm

    Everything well-said! Regarding Manny I am still highly against it..also no one seems to remember how he immediately switched it off in Boston and LA when HE was fed up. I suspect Manny might be brought in to “help” YC to adapt…but ..I wouldn’t want my new employee eating out of the hand of a proven disgruntled worker. So I also wondered …any insider news of Spanish speaking position players *not Manny!) on the squad?

    Can envision the sound of the reporting pitchers’ fastballs hitting the catchers’ mitts already!

    • Drew W permalink
      February 15, 2012 8:56 pm

      Bartolo Colon is from the DR, so there’s one guy at least. I would guess Melvin speaks a little Spanish . . .

      • February 17, 2012 1:31 pm

        Fautino de los Santos is another guy. Kind of amazing how devoid of Latin players Oakland is.

    • February 17, 2012 1:30 pm

      I don’t know, I go back and forth on Manny. Absolutely not a necessary move. But his bat is legit. And if it is on the uber-cheap… maybe not the worst thing.

  2. Drew W permalink
    February 15, 2012 9:06 pm

    Barton is the best defender at 1B, so he has value as a late inning replacement if Allen wins the job outright. I’m guessing Chris Carter doesn’t make it through waivers so I don’t think the A’s expose him to that. Kia Ka’aihue is in trouble–he seems like the easiest guy to get rid of, and he might sneak through waivers.
    In the outfield, I guess I’l take Terrance Long, then Rich Becker, then Ryan Christianson–wait, that was ten years ago! Haha! But seriously, if Reddick doesn’t make the team in right, what did the A’s trade Bailey for, exactly? I think he starts in right, Coco in center, Cespedes in left, with Smith and Gomes on the bench, Taylor in AAA, at least to begin the season. Tough choices to make.

    • February 17, 2012 1:33 pm

      Carter can be optioned so I wouldn’t be surprised if he is. I don’t think Ka’aihue sneaks through waivers. I can see a lot of NL teams taking a flyer on him as a late inning left-handed batter. Teams like the Mets, Astros, Pirates seem like candidates to claim him, assuming he gets past an AL team like the Mariners.

      I think the Bailey trade still hinges on Alcantara, but I would be surprised if Reddick didn’t make it as the starting RFer. But stranger things have happened.

  3. Hungary4A'sNews permalink
    February 16, 2012 6:02 am

    Agreed Drew! Basically we MUST realize that we have a lot of things to look forward to (your Long,Becker..point). That is why we can enjoy watching development and seeing how Melvin manages these options. Again, a reason to leave Manny’s AB out of the equation. I am looking for a competive, Not station to station, team …and maybe maybe maybe if I learn a few player names and numbers…Billy won’t trade them all AWAY every year. great right now…not a totally wasted season.. : ) Holy Toledo!

    • February 17, 2012 1:34 pm

      Well in fairness, you kind of contradict yourself. Manny certainly would make the team competitive. The A’s teams that were last successful were very station-to-station with few fleet of foot guys and very little base-stealing.

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