Blackley and Barton DFA'd, Norberto to AAA — Beane's masterpiece is near completion

Bob Melvin and the birthday boy Billy Beane made some tough decisions today. - USA TODAY Sports

Danny Otero (formerly of the Yankees) and Josh Stinson (claimed off waivers from Milwaukee) are now part of the Oakland Athletics organization. The 25-man roster is set save for two spots, an infielder and the 7th reliever.

What happened:

Daric Barton and Travis Blackley have been designated for assignment by the A's, making room for two simultaneously acquired right-handed arms. Jordan Norberto has been shipped to the North to start the season with the Rivercats.

The first of the pitchers Beane picked up is Danny Otero — Oakland claimed him off waivers today from the Yankees. The second is Josh Stinson, whom the A's took off of Milwaukee's hands. Neither Blackley nor Barton had any options remaining, meaning that the A's had the option of keeping them on the 25-man roster or getting rid of them. They made their choice today.

Otero was immediately optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, and Stinson is headed to Texas to join the Double-A Midland Rockhounds.

First take?

Barton: This had to happen. There simply wasn't room for him on Oakland's 25 or 40-man rosters, despite the fact that he's the best defensive 1B in the organization. Brandon Moss looks to be the A's everyday first baseman in 2013 and the recent acquisition of Nate Freiman made it pretty clear that the A's were making plans that Barton simply wasn't a part of.

I'm sure people on AN are going to have some varying takes on Barton's release, as he was one of the most polarizing players (in terms of stats and valuation) the A's have had in the past decade. Personally, I'm fine with this — for the sake of not sparking the classic Barton debate I'll leave it at that.

Blackley: This is a completely different story. Blackley was an integral part of the 2012 squad that made its improbable AL West Championship run, filling in as a long-reliever, regular part of the rotation, and everything in between. His friendship with A's star Josh Reddick was well-documented this spring and I think that the main difference here is that his teammates expected him to be with the team in 2013. Unfortunately for Travis, that won't be the case.

Blackley had a terrible spring, which despite the small sample size probably made the difference in the eyes of the A's front office. I won't include his stats because I don't believe in using hard numbers during ST, but go see for yourself if you want. Ugly. My initial reaction was a gut feeling that I really like Blackley and want him to be a part of this team, but a few hours after the fact I'm very OK with this cut, as with the Barton one.

Why? In a nutshell, the good numbers (including a 3.86 ERA) he posted pitching for the A's in 2012 don't seem sustainable. That ERA in August and September was an ugly 5.29, masked by the fact that he came up huge in an October spot start against Texas that helped Oakland win the division. And then there's the way he pitched in the Cactus League.

Noberto: This one probably gets a resounding "Yeah, OK" from A's fans near and far. Norberto, like Barton, wasn't realistically challenging for a spot on the 25-man roster. Unlike the two aforementioned players, though, Norberto has options left, meaning that the A's can stash him in Sacramento for the time being. I bet he gets Major League action this year, but it might be in a few months.

There's also been a constant, slow drip of speculation that with Norberto being linked to the Miami-area clinic Biogenesis, a suspension is imminent. I think there's zero chance that played a role here: if the A's front office people think he deserves a spot, they'll give it to him, and if he gets suspended further down the line they at least they would have felt like they put the team's best foot forward while they could.

What this means for the roster:

It's simple — 23 spots are now taken, and two are available. To recap:

Catchers: Norris, Jaso

Infielders: Donaldson, Lowrie, Sizemore, Sogard, Moss

Outfielders: Crisp, Reddick, Cespedes, Smith, Young

Starters: Anderson, Parker, Griffin, Milone, Straily (soon to be replaced by Colon after his 5-game suspension is done)

Relievers: Balfour, Cook, Doolittle, Resop, Neshek, Blevins

As you can see, that leaves one bullpen spot and one infield spot. Let's start with the bullpen. There are four guys in contention for the final relief spot: Pedro Figueroa, Mike Ekstrom, Hideki Okajima, and Evan Scribner. My guess is as good (read: wild) as anyone's, but I'd go with Scribner. A lot of people think Ekstrom deserve it but I don't think the A's are going to give a spot to a non-roster invitee when they have solid in-house options. We'll see, though.

Now, the infield. There's one spot left, and it's down to first baseman Nate Freiman and utilityman Andy Parrino. My pick? Freiman, because the A's already have a utility guy in Sogard, and he happens to be red-hot right now. He can play every position besides first, suggesting that the A's would do well to have a defensive 1B option other than Moss. It just seems like Parrino and Sogard would be redundant.

Let's hear your thoughts!

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