When the A's acquired Jay Payton last season from Boston for featured Moneyball player Chad Bradford, many fans and media were afraid that the A's were acquiring a ticking timebomb given his behavior with the Red Sox. Payton claimed he was simply orchestrating his departure from Boston with an explosion in Texas.
He said he was happy to just come to a place where he was going to get more playing time. And he has been a relatively good teammate by all accounts. Remember the caveat to all of this being those terms..."by all accounts." We have to depend on media to get the impression of what's really going on in the A's clubhouse.
Given that, how should we react to this latest mini-tantrum?
I take it in a positive way, for the most part. This is a guy who badly wants to be in a lineup and contribute. And of late, he's earned that right with a nearly .900 OPS in June.
But the fact remains, that playing time may very well be cut in the near future. Milton Bradley wasn't acquired, contrary to perception, to sit on the DL or the bench. He's a genuine middle-of-the-lineup hitter who brings a ton of potential to the table. No one really knows how long it will be until Bradley comes back. Possibly not even Milton.
Frank Thomas will also be returning to the fold very soon, possibly as soon as this weekend. That means that with Dan Johnson absolutely mashing the ball right now (1.117 OPS in June) and Kielty following suit in June (.974 OPS), the ABs are going to be limited for Jay Payton. Kotsay is not going to be sat down because the A's front office believes that Kotsay gives them an edge in centerfield that few teams that don't have Mike Cameron have. Plus, even though Payton might be hot right now, the A's value Kotsay's bat more. He's batted first, second or third in the lineup 267 out of his 268 ABs. Payton has batted higher than sixth exactly 26 times out of his 230 ABs.
So unless Payton suddenly learns how to play the hot corner or Kotsay's back acts up, he will likely find himself on the bench more frequently this upcoming weekend and quite a bit more when The Gamer finally gets healthy. I would hope that for the good of the team he would be able to accept it, otherwise we know Payton can go all Machiavellian on a team. I appreciate the competitive nature, but you have to put team ahead of self and that's the bottom line.