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The Deal with the DL

With some time to kill before tonight's game, I thought I'd open this up for discussion. While it's probably true that 'As Chavez and Bradley go, so do the A's', I think that keeping Frank Thomas in the lineup can be the difference between winning the West and going home in October.

In case you missed yesterday's game notes (thanks Joey):

The A's have been saying for some time that they'd very much like to avoid placing third baseman Eric Chavez on the disabled list, but manager Ken Macha's answer to a question regarding Frank Thomas' presence on the base paths late in Thursday's win over the Red Sox left no doubt that a DL stint for Chavez is a distinct possibility.

The article goes on to imply that the reason that Frank Thomas is running the bases these days is because the A's are short position players and they don't want to pinch-run their pitchers. So let me get this straight. Chavez is too hurt to play, probably won't be much better in a couple of days, yet he is taking up a roster spot that, in a round-about way, could cost the A's another injury. Seriously?

Of course, with the A's' (Harden!) propensity to use the DL (Harden!) as a storage space for mostly-dead players, it makes as much sense as anything that they are afraid if Chavez goes on the DL, he won't be back, but really. How is there a downside? You can't tell me that Chavez is adding to the team right now. Even the fear of a defensive drop-off with Perez at third--and this is becoming less and less true, Perez has been great on D, and although he had nothing to show in the box scores last night; he was robbed a couple of times at the plate--Chavez is hurt. Probably worse than we've even been told, judging from past experiences, yet somewhere along the line, the A's have decided that a) we don't need the replacement roster spot b) Chavvy will magically get better in three-four days instead of ten and c) not having any money means we can't use the DL. I still think I'm missing something.

From Blez' interview last week:

[Billy] Beane: And the other thing that sort of isn't known, and this is one of the perils of being in a smaller market, there have been plenty of times when we should've or could've put someone on the DL but didn't because we didn't want to lose them for fifteen days if we could make the choice to only lose them for eight days or 10 days. Huston (Street) should've been on the DL earlier in the season which was one case. Duke (Justin Duchscherer) probably should've been on earlier than we put him on. (Joe) Kennedy was the same way. As much as we've used it, it doesn't tell the whole story. Bobby Kielty was unavailable. Chavy (Eric Chavez) when he was sick for a week. It (using the DL example) doesn't give a true indication of how much these guys have truly been banged up.

Why is this a peril of being in a smaller market? Why wouldn't you use the DL? Are there hidden costs involved that we're not seeing? Is there really that big a drop-off from our regular lineups and our backups? (Offensively, not pitching, of course) Couldn't you argue that over the last two months, most of our offensive backups could not have been worse than the starters they would have replaced?

Make no mistake. I want Chavvy in our lineup. We need him there. But we need him healthy, and he needs to heal, preferably while allowing us to still take care of Frank Thomas. Hurt!Chavez is not better than anyone on the bench right now. I get that when you're dealing with minor injuries, you want to keep the players available, but in some cases (i.e. NOW), we flat-out need the bodies on the bench. Why are we playing thin right now? Why are we risking Frank Thomas?


A's try for three in a row tonight in Fenway. Schilling against Haren. Should be good. However, I'm not-so-secretely hoping it turns out to be another chance for us to pound the RedSox. I almost forgot what it was like to know we were going to win from the fifth inning on.