Coco Crisp sets up in the A's "no doubles defense" alignment.
I choose not to devote this post to the burning question, "How can Adam Rosales go for a ground ball between 3B and SS, and then wind up unable to get back to 3B ahead of a runner who is coming into 2B?" Probably the same reason Evan Scribner just can't decide whether to help out by covering 3B or home and so he stands on the mound doing nothing. But don't put your head down (we have Chris Carter for that) -- keep your eyes right on the screen, "jump" aboard, and ponder these thoughts...
INGE, SIZEMORE, AND WEEKS (OH MY!)
I've heard concern about the notion of re-signing Brandon Inge with Scott Sizemore returning, as if the A's might wind up with a logjam. I actually see the potential for a rotation similar to having 4 OFers for 3 spots which, if you ask Jay Payton or Ryan Sweeney, always works itself out as there is ample playing time to be had amongst 4 OFers.The key is 2B.
I see a good situation developing if the A's have Inge, Sizemore, and Weeks all in the "3B/2B mix". Sizemore is going to need some days off in 2013; Inge will be turning 36 and needn't play every day. And frankly I like the idea of having Inge and 3B and Sizemore at 2B as an option.
I've generally been a believer in Jemile Weeks' bat (not as much his glove), and I think he is going through a "sophomore slump" that does not reflect his true potential. I'm also concerned that he is not making adjustments. Weeks' swing has simply gotten too long -- he may be "over swinging" and trying to drive the ball too much, but that isn't the core problem. The core problem is that his swing is too long even when he is trying to slash line drives.
No one will ever mistake me for a hitting coach, but my sense is that Weeks is not using his core/hips enough -- basically he is not rotating his hips well so that his swing has become "all arms". It is a long route from where the bat starts to the "point of contact" and when this happens you need to start your swing early to catch up to the fastball. Then you start missing breaking balls because you've had to commit so early.
My concern about Weeks is not that there may be a mechanical breakdown in his swing. My concern is that in a game of adjustments, Weeks is showing little to no ability to make an adjustment. The inability to adjust over a long period of time is a serious problem. I would like the A's to have the ability to make Weeks earn a spot next spring, and the flexibility to plant Weeks back in AAA next April if that's what it takes to allow (and by allow I mean force) him to pay attention to the problems in his swing and to actively address it.
Sizemore's natural position is 2B and an infield with Inge at 3B and Sizemore at 2B would be a very good defensive infield. There's enough playing time to go around with all 3 of these guys in the mix, especially if 2B isn't just handed to Weeks as his "de facto job". I say, re-sign Inge and tell Weeks there's competition throughout the infield for the starting jobs. It might benefit the A's in 2013, and beyond.
"NO DOUBLES": DUM-DUM-DUMB!
The A's need to realize how dumb their "no doubles defense" alignment is. One of the revelations in the past decade or so is the relative importance, compared to past "conventional wisdom," of on base percentage compared to slugging percentage.
The "no doubles defense" suppresses slugging a bit (by turning some doubles into singles) while enhancing OBP (by turning some outs into singles). The A's will often play this alignment from the very start of an inning. What this defense gives is the ILLUSION of being successful. A batter singles and it's easy to say, "See -- the tying run is only at 1B, not in scoring position!" Yes, but the batter is also not out. A HR, or even RBI single later in the inning, and the "no doubles defense" might have cost you dearly -- even while preventing doubles.
There is a time to play "no doubles" -- with the tying run at 1B and two outs it can actually make sense -- but those instances are rare. Because usually you are better off simply to maximize the chances of getting the batter out (just as the batting team is usually better off not making an out).
I mention this today because the A's have an OFer who plays "no doubles" all the time because he is not comfortable going back on the ball: Yoenis Cespedes. Two balls dropped for hits in the 6th inning that might have been catchable by an OFer playing in normal position. The A's need to do one of two things: They need to put Cespedes at normal depth in LF or they need to take him out of LF.
"No Doubles" Doesn't Have To Mean "No HRs"...
There is also a middle ground between "normal depth" and the absurdly exaggerated alignment the A's use with Cespedes in general, and with the entire OF in their overused "no doubles" routine. Coco Crisp could back up a step without backing up practically to the warning track. Could somebody with connections to the A's coaching staff please make someone read all this? kthxbai.