Rosterbation Part 1

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23: Conor Jackson #28 of the Oakland Athletics connects on a second inning single against the New York Mets at Citi Field on June 23, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

 

We are mid way though the season, past the draft and close to the all star break, and unfortunately stick in a disappointing situation. Our pitching is injured (but perhaps returning), and our offense has a bad case of the shanks. With trade season upon us, it’s time we evaluated our chips, and cast off some of our deadweight. Thankfully, some of that has already happened with the promotion of Jemile Weeks and the acquisition of Scott Sizemore.

The first step, as always, is to figure out what exactly we have before we make any decisions.

Catcher:
Kurt Suzuki (.290 wOBA/1.1 WAR)
Landon Powell (.262/0.3 WAR)
Josh Donaldson [AAA] (.341 wOBA)
Anthony Recker [AAA] (.415 wOBA)

To sum up our catching situation thus far: disappointing. Suzuki has been declining for the last couple years. After his twin 3 WAR seasons, and 3 years in a row with a wOBA of .321, he has put out two straight seasons of sun .300 wOBA and sub 2 WAR. As a catcher, of course, Suzuki’s offensive tidings are to be seen only as a bonus, but the A’s still seem to view him as an offensive catcher, and he should not be viewed as such. If other teams view him in a very good light, and we believe that our pitchers skills, and not our catcher’s game calling, is what is driving our good pitching in recent years, then we should trade Suzuki if someone will overvalue him. Then again, he is the team’s leader in WAR, so he has that going for him. Which is nice. Waiting in the wings are the duo of offensively minded catching prospects Josh Donaldson and Anthony Recker, who might have climbed out of non-entity with this year’s amazing wOBA in Sacramento, but might be too old for it to matter. Then again, catchers mature later. Donaldson’s OPS has dropped back down to .775, but his wOBA is still holding his own. But can he become a good offensive catcher in the Majors while producing good results behind the plate? And do not think of putting Landon Powell as the starter. Powell has performed worse offensively than Suzuki, but more importantly, cannot handle a full season as a starter due to known health concerns.

 

First Base:
Daric Barton (.275 wOBA/-0.4 WAR)
Conor Jackson (.307 wOBA/0.7 WAR)
Chris Carter [AAA] (.368 wOBA)

In this case, I put only those who I believe should be at 1B. Notice that I did not put Mark Ellis as our first baseman. First base is pretty dismal for the A’s right not, and I am concerned that there is not a bright spot in sight. Daric Barton has faded off the map after posting a 5.1 WAR, .359 wOBA in the previous year. This year, Barton fell off a map, forgetting how to hit and field, destroying his main source of WAR from the previous year. Conor Jackson, for all he has done, is really a backup 1B/LF at this point, and should not be a starter on a good MLB team, which is what we want ourselves to be. That leaves Carter, who is the definition of iffy in the field, and may be suited to DH almost immediately. Then again, perhaps we can get Carter, if he can stay healthy and come through with the bat, to be a Prince Fielder or Ryan Howard at 1B, where we don’t notice the glove because the bat is so awesome. That day cannot come soon enough to me. Well, maybe if Sean Doolittle ever gets back on the field…

Second Base:
Jemile Weeks (.373 wOBA/0.7 WAR)
Mark Ellis (.244 wOBA/-0.1 WAR)
Scott Sizemore (.391 wOBA/0.5 WAR)
Adam Rosales
Adrian Cardenas [AAA] (.427 wOBA)
Eric Sogard [AAA] (.365 wOBA)

The second base situation is all but locked up by Jemile Weeks. In such a short time (16 games), he has essentially performed as a superstar. Meanwhile, Mark Ellis will have to view things from the bench until he is traded, after falling off a cliff. (Side note: Is this a team of lemurs, who all follow each other off the cliff? Thanks Disney!) Waiting behind him to back him up is a slew of potential replacements, including Sizemore, who’s natural position is 2B, but is holding his own at 3rd, Rosales, who might be better served as sticking to the super utility role, Cardenas, who’s only good infield position appears to be 2nd, but is blocked by Weeks, and Sogard, who is trying to become a shortstop at triple A.

Shortstop:
Cliff Pennington (.278 wOBA/-0.2 WAR)
Adam Rosales
Eric Sogard [AAA] (.365 wOBA)
Grant Green

Grant Green must be grinning right now, as his future looks clear if he can get things going in double A. Yes, Green is having a down year after his great year at Stockton, but he is still a top pick, and an offensive minded one at that (now if he could only learn to throw the ball correctly). Ahead of him on the depth chart are two utility men, one of whom really shouldn’t be at SS (Sogard), and a starting Shortstop who has forgotten how to field or get on base this year. Pennington needs to start getting on with both, or he risks losing his job in the next 18 months. That, or watch out for the free agent market. But hey, maybe he will be lucky and Green’s errors will force him to 2nd or 3rd.

Third Base:
Scott Sizemore (.391 wOBA/0.5 WAR)
Adam Rosales
Mark Ellis (.244 wOBA/-0.1 WAR)
Kevin Kouzmanoff [Redacted]
Adrian Cardenas [AAA] (.427 wOBA)

It’s amazing how this position has turned around with one trade. Sizemore is on fire, and if he can keep it up, has the position locked down, and Rosales is an able enough backup to support him. Mark Ellis at 3B would be an idea, albe a scary one as we have no clue if his arm can take it. Ignoring Kouzmanoff, Adrian Cardenas’ experiment at 3B seems to have failed, as the A’s are mainly playing him at LF at the moment.

Centerfield:
Coco Crisp (.303 wOBA/0.8 WAR)
Ryan Sweeney (.322 wOBA/0.2 WAR)
David DeJesus (.298 wOBA/-0.1 WAR)
Jai Miller [AAA] (.442 wOBA)

Centerfield has been a dilemma for the A’s for a while, with a lot of stop gap measures, including bringing back Crisp for another year. While Crisp should be far and away the best defensive centerfielder of the bunch, Ryan Sweeney is getting a fair amount of playing time in center these days, and DeJesus had the position in the past in Kansas City. Unfortunately, only Sweeney of those three are hitting, and he is starting to fade. Meanwhile, Jai Miller has put everything together in AAA somehow and is raking, trying to get himself a chance in Oakland. Should that be sooner or September, however?

Outfield:
Josh Willingham (.321 wOBA/0.3 WAR)
David DeJesus (.298 wOBA/-0.1 WAR)
Ryan Sweeney (.322 wOBA/0.2 WAR)
Conor Jackson (.307 wOBA/0.7 WAR)
Hideki Matsui (.291 wOBA/-0.2 WAR)
Chris Carter [AAA] (.368 wOBA)
Jai Miller [AAA] (.442 wOBA)
Adrian Cardenas [AAA] (.427 wOBA)
Michael Taylor [AAA] (.354 wOBA)

It looks somewhat like a log jam, but most of the guys here are only there for a year, and the rest will be scrambling to find a place. Willingham has been a fan favorite in Oakland, and might be worth extending, but I feel that his place as "Good Hitter on Horrible Team" is over doing his actual performance this year. If we can get a good return on him, it might be worth doing. Otherwise, he might still net us a Type A Draft Pick (and if he accepts arbitration, we’ll be happy anyways). DeJesus has worried me as he has fallen off the map this year, but in the long run, I would not mind having him return to Oakland next year. DeJesus is recovering from a wrist injury, in which it is not unusual to go a year before you regain your stroke (ask Michael Taylor) , and could explode again next year. Then again, Oakland is not really the place to explode offensively. Behind them are Ryan Sweeney, who is to me an enigma, sometimes good and sometimes bad, Conor Jackson, who should be backing up or backing out, Hideki Matsui who does not belong anywhere on the field, and Chris Carter, who belongs even farther off the field than Matsui. With so many free agents, though, it would not be surprising to see them shipped out this deadline, and replaced with prospects. Cardenas, Taylor, Miller and Carter are all no doubt waiting for that to happen, as they would be the first to come up and would have a chance to claim permanent starting jobs if they succeed.

Designated Hitter:
Hideki Matsui (.291 wOBA/-0.2 WAR)
Josh Willingham (.321 wOBA/0.3 WAR)
Chris Carter [AAA] (.368 wOBA)

Oh boy. Between the first base situation and the designated hitter, we might be in trouble next year. This year, it’s a bit of a question mark as well. Matsui has not performed well, though might be heating up. Willingham belongs in the outfield, but if his Achilles cannot handle it, what do you do with Matsui and who do you put in the outfield? And then there is Carter, the heir apparent to the DH role. I would aim for Carter at 1B for the time being until a better replacement is found, and then slipping Carter to the DH role. Help us Billy Beane Kenobi, you’re our only hope!

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