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Too Many Good Hitters? (Waits For Laughter To Die Down)

With an offense as questionable as the A’s, it’s hard to imagine having too much of a good thing. Yet it’s worth noting that the A’s could easily have two contradictory difficulties at once this year: problems scoring enough runs and problems finding enough opportunities for "plus hitters" to get at bats.

Jack Hannahan has come out so far stroking line drive after line drive, which isn’t as surprising when you look at his exceptional "line drive %" in 2007 (23.4%) and then realize that this isn’t some journeyman prospect who was never supposed to be any good – this is a third round draft pick who is finally clean and sober enough to play like his scouting reports once predicted. Meanwhile, you have Eric Chavez who will come back from his surgeries somewhere between a sad shell of his old self and the 30 HR, 100 RBI man who could carry a team during one of his sizzling post All-Star Break surges. Even if the recovery is good but not great, Chavez could present as a slick-fielding 20 HR, 80 RBI man – and the A’s current lineup is not exactly brimming with those.

Jack Cust put up a .912 OPS last year, and has come out in the Cactus League hitting the ball like it called his 2007 a fluke and he wasn’t pleased. Cust could regress a bit (dare I say, strike out even more?) and still be one of the A’s biggest offensive assets. Meanwhile, Mike Sweeney introduced himself to the green and gold with a 3-hit game, and when his back feels good he has terrific major league credentials that include a career .300 average, six 20+ HR seasons, six seasons of RBIs ranging from 83 to 144, and the kind of presence that makes him a logical #4 hitter – and the A’s current lineup is not exactly brimming with those.

If Sweeney were to stay healthy and make the team, yes you could platoon him and Cust and have one of them in the lineup at all times, but how do you sit one of them on a team that is not offensively robust? Health permitting, the A’s lineup needs both Cust’s and Sweeney’s bats, along with Chavez’ power/OBP potential and Hannahan’s line-drive stroke.

So…How are we going to do this: Mike Sweeney in CF, Cust at SS? Hmm…Still working on it...