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Loyalty vs. Prudence In The Short Series

Yes, yes, I know, the A's will probably not win the division, bigger leads have been lost later in the season, and the A's have a history of "September fades" every single year dating back to the famed "September fade of 1597" when the A's shortstop, lesser-known brother Eggbert Shakespeare, neglected to make a crucial throw to first, claiming to the umpire "Fair is foul, and foul is fair," and the umpire replied, "No, actually, it isn't, and you should tell your brother to change that." I get it.

But in the off-chance that the A's somehow sneak into the post-season, they will be faced with an interesting lineup dilemma. I'm thinking Frank Thomas is a shoo-in to start at DH (we can agree on that, right?), leaving lineup spots open for three outfielders and a first-baseman.

vs. a right-handed starter

The likeliest scenario would appear to be the one used for most of the second-half of the season: Swisher at 1B and an outfield of Payton, Kotsay, and Bradley. Or...

* If he finishes strong, will Dan Johnson, who struggled for half a season and was relegated to AAA for half a season, but has looked great so far in his return to Oakland, start because he is "Loaizing," i.e., peaking at the just the right time? If so, at whose expense?

But here's where it gets interesting to me, especially because if the A's were to play Detroit they could very well see Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson for three of five games...

vs. a left-handed starter

  • Will the A's start Bobby Kielty, who is among the A's very best hitters against LHP, even though he is usually not an everyday starter and is one of the poorest defensive options? It's hard to imagine not getting Kielty's right-handed bat in there. But then...

  • Do you sit Jay Payton, currently the leading hitter on the team, as well as a plus-defensive player?

  • Or do you sit Nick Swisher, who leads the team in games played and is second on the team in HRs?

This is a nice problem to have, but it also presents a dilemma. The dilemma comes down to this: What if one player is more "one of the guys who got you there," but another player is more "one of the guys best suited to this short series"?

Are you prepared to say, for example, "Sorry Payton" or "Sorry, Swish"..."but Kielty hits lefties"--and sit Payton or Swish for the majority of the games?