Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone! It's not that I don't actually have a lot to say (have I ever not had a lot to say?). It's more that the various things I have to say don't exactly go together.
This is why stew was invented: so that we could throw random ingredients together and call it
an article a dish. I'm pretty sure that chop suey, when translated into English, means, "the veggies that aren't too shriveled or slimy to cook". This post is somewhat like a "5-paragraph essay on Shakespearean tragedy in which the first paragraph cties examples from Hamlet, the second paragraph makes a random observation about Twelfth Night, the third paragraph makes a pointless comment about Animal House, the fourth paragraph can pretty much be summed up as "I like pie!" and then the fifth paragraph has coffee spilled on it.
Item #1: Brett Anderson, Super Reliever
The A's have a big series coming up against Texas, with Dan Straily, Bartolo Colon, and Jarrod Parker lined up to pitch. One of Straily's best starts of the year came at Texas, so one hopes that maybe he can come up big on Monday. However, having decided against moving Anderson into the rotation at this point, the A's have a luxury reliever at their disposal who is stretched out enough to throw 4 IP out of the bullpen.
Assuming he is not used Sunday, my hope is that Anderson will serve as Straily's understudy on Monday, ready to come in for 3-4 IP at any point in the middle of the game. Just consider that Straily and Anderson have, between them, the first 7 IP and let the results dictate whether Straily throws the first 7 IP or the first 2.1 IP. (If Straily were to dominate, you could prepare to use Anderson the same way on Tuesday behind Colon -- but in Colon and Parker you have two of your "front of the rotation" guys going and where Anderson could be a savior is in backing up the Straily-Griffin-Milone part of the rotation.)
The A's are set up to where they do not need to allow a "back of the rotation" SP struggle through 5 IP or 5 ER. And in the upcoming 6 games against Texas -- in which the A's need to win a minimum of 3 and ideally need to snatch 4 -- they need to be in "all in" mode for those games. Anderson could be a tremendous weapon in this quest, if he is utilized as follows: "lie in the weeds and wait for a chance to turn a shaky SP into an ace". Heck, if he's needed to do that for Griffin today...
Item #2: Brandon Moss, Nut To A Blind Squirrel
Most of my predictions serve to demonstrate why it's foolish to put predictions in writing under your real name. It turns out that Yoenis Cespedes is not going to vie for the MVP award this season, any more than Toronto is going to finish ahead of Boston in the AL East. Oopsies.
However, in the event that Brandon Allen does not, in fact, come back to Oakland and save the franchise through his unique blend of awesomeness, I can at least point to another Brandon as proof that even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again.
My pre-season prediction for Moss was a line of .240/.330/.520. For most of the season it looked like I had been seduced by Moss' magical 2012 season and aimed too high in my prognostications. But after his latest flurry of "HRs and other assorted awesomeness," coming into Saturday's game the streaky Moss now sported this line for 2013: .250/.328/.500. Mossome!
Item #3: Expanded Rosters
As Susan Slusser notes, it would appear that Jemile Weeks (pinch runner), Andy Parrino (defensive replacement), Michael Choice "sooner rather than later," and perhaps a couple bullpen reinforcements (including Pedro Figueroa, who has already arrived in Oakland) will constitute the River Cats invited to try to help the A's pass the Rangers -- or at least stay ahead of their fellow wild card contenders.
Count me among those excited to see Choice. Not everyone is sold on him, but I think that put in context Choice has had a very good year at AAA. Remember that he has never been old for his league (he is now 23) and that no one doubts his power (which is the area in which he has excelled the least in 2013). His slash line this season, for the River Cats, is .302/.390/.441 (.831 OPS) with 14 HRs. Playing in a hitter's league, but with half his games in more of a pitcher's park, perhaps it's worth noting that on the road this year Choice has mashed to the tune of .331/.415/.506.
In any event, Choice has pedigree (#1 pick) and talent, and if he hasn't had a "sensational" AAA season he has certainly had a "very solid" one. His 19.3% K-rate may not be ideal but it is also below the statistical "danger zone" (when K-rates get up to 22%-24% they start to correlate very highly with failure in the big leagues), and perhaps most importantly it is below his K-rates from previous levels (21.9% at AA, 24.7% at A+).