Now the A's made a switch Friday night, however temporary or permanent -- time will tell -- putting Adam Rosales at SS, Lowrie at 2B and leaving Eric Sogard in a role he is better suited to playing: Utility accountant and part-time elf. With any luck, this switch will coincide with an A's surge. Texas shows signs of vulnerability, with Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando currently on the DL to create a rotation that is 3/5 Tepesch, Grimm, and We'll See.
The switch gives the A's solid defense at the most important defensive position, puts Lowrie in a better defensive position for him, and while it could make Rosales an every day player for now it at least utilizes him in the best possible way: solidifying the middle infield defense. Given the A's current roster, I like this switch and think it should be employed more often until such time as the A's can bring a better MIF option onto the roster.
Some other insights I hope the A's will come to as we pass the 1/4 mark and fast approach the 1/3 benchmark...
- When choosing between Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle for the 7th & 8th innings, go with Cook for the bottom part of the order and Doolittle for the heart of the order, whichever order that means pitching them. Left/Right be damned: Cook can overpower a team's 6-9 while Doolittle can overpower even a team's 3-5. Line them up that way and I think the A's will have fewer "blown holds" such as the key one they suffered last Tuesday against the Rangers. (Update: I am pleased to note that Bob Melvin apparently hacked into AN, read this post while it was still only a draft scheduled to be published, and had Cook face the bottom of the Royals order on Saturday night with Doolittle going through the heart of the order in the 8th.)
- Move towards Derek Norris being the clear #1 catcher, with John Jaso getting most of his PAs out of the DH spot. Teams can run ragged on Jaso, and I'm also not convinced that his game-calling is very effective -- though in fairness to Jaso, that could reflect his abilities or it could just reflect his relative unfamiliarity with the A's pitchers. Norris has also made great strides blocking balls in the dirt and continues to sport a very solid OBP (.364 entering Friday night's game). Jaso's bat is good, but Norris is the more complete catcher and I think the A's need him behind the plate about 5 days/week going forward.
If Yoenis Cespedes gets hot, I think the A's can hit with Texas. I like the A's bullpen overall, especially with Hideki Okajima in the mix. I like the back of the A's rotation better than Texas'. The big difference, right now, between the two teams is that the Rangers have Yu Darvish and the A's don't even have Brett Anderson. That's huge, but it's also only a factor every 5 days. Hopefully the A's can make hay the other 4 and close the gap on Texas -- talent-wise, I don't think the two teams are very far apart (though as long as Anderson is out I have to officially give Texas the edge).