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Could it be...? No, it can't be... OMG it really is! It's a Minor League Update!!!

Hello again.

Work called me away for a while and it’s been tough getting back into the groove of things. For those who don’t know, I’m a wildland fire fighter and August got a little busy for those in my career field. So when I disappear again for a couple weeks just remember… I envy your access to in-door plumbing.

Anyways, I want to focus this week’s minor league update on the 40 man roster and the options that are going to have to be decided upon in the coming months. Why do this now instead of waiting until September 1st? The topic tickles my fancy, that’s why. As I seem to have (once again) misplaced my Cap o’ Omnipotence I’m forced to resort to basic logic and common sense reckoning to try and deduce the future roster.

That’s right… none of what I’m about to tell you is guaranteed!

The way I see it, there are 28-29 spots on the future 40 man roster all but guaranteed. On the pitching side, Brett Anderson, Andrew Bailey, Jerry Blevins, Dallas Braden, Craig Breslow, Trevor Cahill, Joey Devine, Gio Gonzalez, Jeff Gray, Jay Marshall, Vin Mazzaro, Clayton Mortensen, Josh Outman, Henry Rodriguez, Michael Wuertz and Brad Ziegler all seem certain to have jobs in the Oakland organization next year. That’s 16 pitchers of varying combinations of success/cheapness/options that aren’t going to be released just to make room on the roster. (There’s a pretty good chance that Outman will open next season on the 60-day DL, opening up an additional spot on the 40 man.) Santiago Casilla and Edgar Gonzalez are both arbitration eligible next season but neither pitched so well that the A’s are going to be eager to give them big pay raises, which could mean either or both players could end up as trade fodder or possibly even released. Dana Eveland is still on the 40 man roster as well, but his poor performance led to a demotion that will keep him from seeing any arby money next season. Unfortunately, Mr. Eveland’s suckitude forced the A’s to use his last option this season; meaning he can’t be stashed on Sacramento’s roster next season without first passing through waivers. Chances are Eveland isn’t going to be one of the 5 best SP candidates for the A’s come Opening Day 2010 and as a lefty with a pulse he’d probably get snapped up by some other team desperate for pitching. Therefore, I think this is good-bye to Mr. Eveland.

As it just so happens, it looks as if the A’s are going to need maybe 3 openings on the 40 man roster just to protect some arms that should attract a lot of interest in the Rule 5 draft. Pedro Figueroa hasn’t advanced past High-A ball but he’s a lefty with a low-90’s fastball. Brad Kilby is another lefty who’s put up back-to-back quality campaigns in Sacramento’s bullpen. Fautino De Los Santos is still trying to bounce back from 2008 TJ surgery but he wouldn’t last long if the A’s made him available for the Rule 5 draft. Jason Ray is in the same boat but I don’t think there’s much risk of someone grabbing him and keeping him on a 25 man roster all season.

There’s also a chance the A’s might be interested in bringing back Brett Tomko or Justin Duchscherer next season. Dan Giese should be fully recovered in time for next season; maybe the A’s are still interested in him as a swing man type. Plus, guys like Sam Demel and James Simmons could be knocking on the door next season and they’d need a spot on the 40 man to do so. Like I said, I could see 3-4 spots going to the guys I just listed and we haven’t even looked outside the organization to find help.

The hitting side of things is even more in flux.

Kurt Suzuki, Landon Powell, Eric Chavez (who?) Mark Ellis, Daric Barton, Travis Buck, Aaron Cunningham, Rajai Davis, Scott Hairston, Ryan Sweeney, Jack Cust, Tommy Everidge, Cliff Pennington and Gregorio Petit have spots on the 40 man roster. (Although I’m not sure if Petit has another minor league option available to him in 2010… if someone has a conclusive answer I’d appreciate hearing it.) C Anthony Recker is the most prominent bat in the A’s system that would be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter and I’m not sure if the A’s would consider his departure to be a great loss. So any Recker fans out there can protect him on their 40 man lists, but I’m thinking the A’s leave him off the protected roster. Chris Denorfia and Eric Patterson are both out of options, so if they aren’t in Oakland come Opening Day there’s a good chance they’ll be playing for another organization in 2010. I can maybe see Patterson as a back-up at 2B and in the outfield but I’ve got to squint and angle my head to one side to see it. I think it’s more likely that the A’s will try to bring back Adam Kennedy to serve as a deluxe back-up option/veteran mentor type.

The real twist comes when you consider the minor league bats that the A’s have in AA or higher that aren’t yet on the 40 man roster. Sean Doolittle, Adrian Cardenas, Josh Donaldson, Corey Brown, Chris Carter and Brett Wallace highlight the next wave of Oakland offense… which could be much more refreshing than the current ripple in the still waters we’ve experienced as of late. Yet again we haven’t looked outside the current organization to determine if maybe there’s another bat to be had.

So bring back Kennedy, add the newbies and you’re looking at 38-39 players on the 40 man roster before the Rule 5 draft. Does anyone see any glaring omissions?

Until the next time...