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"Arizona Hold 'Em"

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The A's have stockpiled so many first-basemen and outfielders that the competition in spring training figures to be fierce. The injured Ryan Goleski aside, Milton Bradley, Erubiel Durazo, Dan Johnson, Bobby Kielty, Mark Kotsay, Shannon Stewart, and Nick Swisher appear poised to duke it out for as few as five spots--with two catchers, Chavez, Crosby, Ellis and two backup infielders, Piazza, and 12 pitchers, there might only be five spots available for the seven 1B/OF hopefuls, meaning some tough decisions will have to be made.

But how? The A's openly--and correctly, in my opinion--do not put much stock in spring training performance. Spring training is about getting into shape, getting work in, experimenting or focusing on specific skills, and being ready on Opening Day. In other words, Dan Johnson isn't going to win or lose a spot because he hits .230 or .330 in the Cactus League, and the A's aren't going to project Durazo's season stats based on his Arizona numbers.

So if spring training performance won't determine who's in and who's out, the question is: What will? Perhaps the A's are going with the Marco Scutaro "Solve Itself" Plan. That's the one where you figure the problem will sort itself out by Opening Day, as happened two years in a row where an out-of-options Scutaro looked like odd-man-out until an unexpected injury solved the dilemma days before the A's had to make a decision.

Goleski's injury shows that this strategy can be pretty sound (especially with the brittle A's), as the 8-to-make-5 dilemma has already reduced itself to a 7-to-make-5 proposition. But assuming the seven still standing stay healthy, and assuming no one hits .100 or .900 in March, how do the A's intend to do the baseball version of Texas Hold `Em and, and choose their "best five cards out of seven"?