Well, we don't have any blockbuster news out of the A's camp on Day 1, but I thought we could continue yesterday's discussion as we get ready for Spring Training games. I, for one, will dearly miss the Buan-casting out of Arizona; how will we handle the play-by-play this season?
Dan put the crowded bullpen in perspective with his great summary in yesterday's post:
Assuming everybody's healthy (a freak chance, I know), we've got spots guaranteed to Andrew Bailey, Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour, Michael Wuertz, and Craig Breslow. With a twelve-man pitching staff, that leaves two spots for Brad Ziegler, Jerry Blevins, Joey Devine, and the runner-up of the fifth starter competition as the long relief guy. Who stays? Who goes?
If I had to guess right now, I would say that Brad Ziegler will win one spot and Joey Devine the other. I think the A's are likely to start the runner-up for the fifth starter spot in Triple-A to assure a consistent schedule. The A's haven't been known for health in the starting rotation (especially if Harden's included), so I would imagine they need a perpetual backup starter. In other news, the bullpen itself hasn't actually been a shining paragon of health, so I doubt anyone will be left out for too long.
According to AN's favorite baseball ladies, Spring Training is already hopping. Jane Lee reports that we are down a couple of shortstops; Cliff Pennington will miss the first week of Spring Training (shoulder), while Adam Rosales' return is unknown (foot).
In the same blog post, Jane Lee also answers last week's question about Ryan Sweeney.
We had talked about Sweeney's new role as the A's fourth outfielder, and I was wondering if the demotion might spur him to change his swing to add the power that he desperately needs to become an everyday player. Lee talks to Sweeney:
Ryan Sweeney said his knees are feeling great, and he's back to undergoing baseball activity at 100 percent. He knows he's currently thought of as the team's fourth outfielder, "but that only makes me want to work that much harder." Sweeney is also aware of the talk surrounding his questionable power potential, and while he said he would of course like to hit more home runs, he's not going to change his approach too much at the cost of lowering his average.
I hate to say it, but unless he does change his approach, I don't think anything is going to change for him. It's nice that he's a .300 hitter (and we've discussed this before), but his .300 is nearly useless with the lack of power behind it.
Jane Lee also discusses the team health in yesterday's MLB article:
A total of 10 players on the A's current 40-man roster -- Andrew Bailey, Willingham, DeJesus, Jerry Blevins, Cliff Pennington, Adam Rosales, Joey Devine, Josh Outman, Sweeney and Conor Jackson -- are coming back from surgery. Aside from Rosales, whose return date is nothing more than a question mark at this point, all are expected to be injury-free and contribute by season's start.
Susan Slusser assures us that Andrew Bailey is right on target. From her Twitter:
Bailey's first bullpen was yesterday, 20 fastballs. "It felt like a normal first bullpen The elbow issue is behind me.
That would appear to answer my question about our starting closer role.
And in case you missed the amazing article from Jayson Stark, allow me to repost his money quote, just because it makes me smile every time I read it:
4. ALL A'S: Looking for a dark-horse pick to be this year's Giants? How 'bout those Oakland A's? Bet you didn't know they led the whole darned sport in quality starts last year. (They threw 103 of them -- seven more than the next-closest rotation.) Then Billy Beane and his brain trust spent the winter stocking up on bats (Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham, David DeJesus) and bullpen depth (Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour, Rich Harden). And if all those pieces fit together this spring, look out. The next Bay Area World Series might be coming right up -- but not on the shores of McCovey Cove.
Good times are ahead...post the latest from Spring Training here!