1/31/11, 4AM PST: Well, it's official and Justin Duchscherer has signed a one-year deal with Baltimore worth anywhere from $700,000 to $4.5 million, depending on incentives... post your thoughts and bet the over/under on how many pitches it will take for JD's legs to fall off right here in this short X-Pac fanpost! -EN
Breaking News! Justin Duchscherer has invited 29 teams to watch him throw, but ZOMG the A's, and only the A's, have been carefully and specifically left off the pass list! Or maybe the tweet meant that along with the A's, 29 other teams have been invited.
More Breaking News! Oakland is so close to acquiring Chone Figgins that the deal may go through before I finish writing this sentence! Or perhaps those conversations happened three weeks ago, and never really got very far.
Fine. But the thing about Jennifer Love-Hewitt having my baby, who was born six-months premature and with Downs' Syndrome (a condition that causes you to throw left-handed and be an overpaid reliever), is true except for all the facts.
Finally, here's a sentence I really hope I never have to utter again: "I did not mail you a dead cat -- that cat was alive when I put it in the envelope!"
I think what I'm trying to say is that if you want actual baseball talk, you'll need to jump.
Chris Carter, it's great that you're saying all the right things, like "I feel like LF is mine to lose this year," but back here on planet earth, where we miss you, it's going to take a "Trevor Cahill like" confluence of injuries to make that happen.
Remember in 2009, when Cahill entered spring training about 8th on the starting pitcher depth chart, then calmly tossed sinkers while Justin Duchscherer got/stayed hurt, Gio Gonzalez battled a slightly sore arm, and Sean Gallagher took 8 MPH off his fastball and neglected to get anyone out? It would take a similar scenario to land Carter in Oakland come April 1st, because not only are DeJesus, Crisp, Willingham, and Matsui rightly ahead of him as proven hitters/fielders, but Ryan Sweeney immediately slots in to fill any void with Conor Jackson right behind him.
I love Carter, but the guy needs a ton of reps in LF if he's going to be an outfielder and needs to mark his calendar for 2012 if he's going to be a DH. Even if he tears the cover off the ball in spring training. In fact the only way I could see him winning a job in spring training is if he looks terrific in the outfield -- and that's not going to happen, especially since he was not able to play winter ball (thumb) as he had originally planned to do.
Another thought to put out there, as the A's bullpen enters spring training crowded with legitimate candidates: We've acknowledged the possibility of Jerry Blevins being "odd man out" because he has an option remaining and can be stashed at AAA. If I'm not mistaken -- and based on the opening to this post I should emphasize that if it's written on AN then it's probably wrong -- doesn't Brad Ziegler also have an option remaining? Could he be the one stashed at AAA to keep room for one or both of Brandon McCarthy and Rich Harden, both RHP, with Andrew Bailey, Grant Balfour, and Michael Wuertz already set to anchor the pen's right side?
Either way, one thing I love about this bullpen is that probably the first two setbacks, be they injuries or bizarre ineffectiveness, will not even be felt, as the A's currently would be able to stash a couple very solid relievers at AAA awaiting the first need. Replacing Craig Breslow or Brian Fuentes with Jerry Blevins is not like replacing Ryan Sweeney with a Matt, and the same is true of replacing Bailey, Balfour, or Wuertz with Joey Devine, or perhaps slotting Harden in for more high leverage relief.
It's not that your bench players, or your 4th best relievers, are that important from game to game. It's that they're important when the injuries hit and those guys become your starters, your set-up men, your closers. And what's bad for Chris Carter and bad for Blevins and Ziggy, is great for the A's, who will need multiple setbacks before they really miss a beat.