The A's management will have some tough decisions to make when some of our injured players return. Sure, the GM may make a trade or two, and worse some more players could get hurt but some tough decisions will be made regarding the roster in the next week or so because some of the injured will be returning.
We have 6 important guys on the DL.
Thomas and Crosby should be back first- right around the All-Star game. Frank maybe before it and Crosby right after. Frank may be cleared to start 'baseball' activities today. I doubt he will need much time as he is not a fielder nor much of a runner. I think if he can swing successfully he will play.
Foulke and Devine- its tricky because they are pitchers. Devine is starting to throw off the mound. Foulke's injury didn't sound too serious but there might be other issues with his return.
Chavez and Mike Sweeney- who knows if they will be back if at all. The A's webpage said August for Sweeney. I am not going to discuss them as their return is, relatively speaking into the future.
So what happens to the current guys once Crosby and Thomas get back?
With Crosby it is somewhat an easy choice. Petit or Murphy will have to go. The team can't afford to keep 2 back-up middle infielders. I think the manager should give each a few starts in the remaining 6 games before the ASB and see who wins the job. Petit has hit better overall this season but Murphy is a tad better at defense, he can also play 3b. If all things are equal they should consider base-running because we will need a PR for Thomas.
Thomas presents the greater difficulty. Ideally, a team would want 12 pitchers and 13 hitters (2 C, 3 corner IF, 3 middle IF, 5 outfield). Frank can't play one of those hitting spots thus the team will have to sacrifice at one position.
The catchers are safe as are the 3 middle IF. R. Sweeney and Gonzalez are safe as well. That leaves 6 guys who may get sent down.
1- Cust- Safe- even though Thomas takes away his at bats at DH. He is in a slump but leads team in HR.
2- Hannahan- Safe- even though his offense is weak because he is pretty much the only 3B on the team. I think he will be here barring a trade.
The other four are more likely casualties of Frank's return.
3-4 Bankston or Barton- We go with one 1B. That spot is the easiest to put a guy in as an emergency back-up. Barton has been on the team longer and is a better defender (manager used him as defensive replacement last night for Bank.). Bankston is killing the ball lately and maybe the A's can ride him until he fades, or perhaps he will continue to hit well. A tough call.
5-6 Brown or Davis- I think it would be risky to go with 4 outfielders (considering one of them is Cust). Neither are future stars, neither have been hitting. Brown is a better hitter but Davis is a better fielder. If the team can find another guy to serve as a PR, Davis' value drops.
There is another option. Keep all of the hitters and go down to 11 pitchers. I think the A's should consider this. The A's have all year used 5 starters and 7 relievers. I think the team should go with 6 relievers, for a while. I don't want to tire out the pitching staff (we do have the ASB) but I think we could be o.k. for about 2-3 weeks with just 6 relievers. Remember, Devine and or Foulke will be back in late July, thus one of the current relievers will have to be moved anyway. I think we could survive a few weeks with the following bullpen= closer- street, 2 left set-up men- Blev, Embree, 2 right set-up men- Castilla, Ziegler and long reliever Gaudin. That leaves out A. Brown. Right now Brown is getting about 2-3 innings of work a week, usually in games that aren't close. I would think that Gaudin, as a former starter could absorb those innings. Also, Castilla is getting healthier.
The extra 2 weeks until Devine or Foulke gets back could be some more chances for some of the hitters who are borderline to prove that they should stay.
Eventually, one or more of out hitters will have to be sent down or moved. Right now there may not be enough evidence to make some key decisions. Primarily Bankston- Is he for real? It would stink for the A's to drop an outfielder or Barton when Frank is activated and find out that Bankston was a flash in the pan.
PS- I didn't want to talk trades but it appears that we have 14 pitchers (12 current and 2 on DL) I wonder if the team will trade one for a prospect or combine with a hitter to bring in an upgrade.