First and foremost, make sure you don't miss the first installment of baseballgirl's amazing journey through the A's 2013 AL West division title. I can't wait for May! (I hear we'll have a winning month.)
With Oakland clinching the division yesterday, we are officially allowed to acknowledge that the A's need to set a 25-man playoff roster and a rotation for the ALDS, although their opponent is still unknown and certainly might impact the front office's actual decisions.
It's a toss-up between Bartolo Colon and Jarrod Parker for Game 1 (and thus a possible Game 5) but I'm going to bet on Colon. Why? Partly because he is the AL's ERA leader in what has been a pretty magical season overall for Colon, partly because he is a veteran and leader on the staff, and also partly because he is the one hitting 93-94MPH on the radar gun right now, and Parker isn't. In other words, 3 weeks ago I would have said Parker but unless we see a drop in Colon's velocity next week, or a surge in Parker's velocity, I think Colon will be considered the better bet going into the playoffs. Again, it could go either way but I am going to pencil in Colon for Game 1.
The likeliest ALDS opponent is Detroit, which boasts an all-righty rotation and if the A's were to grab the AL's best record they might face Cleveland, whose top 4 SPs are probably RHs Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, and Corey Kluber -- although their other starting pitcher is the lefty Scott Kazmir.
With this in mind, I think it's very likely the A's will wind up leaving Nate Freiman off the ALDS roster. Remember that Jonny Gomes and Chris Carter, who played more prominent roles on the 2012 team, combined for just 1 plate appearance against the Tigers in last year's ALDS. I don't see a spot, because I don't see any necessity, for a "LHP masher" who plays bad defense.
I think there is actually room for Daric Barton and 3 catchers if the A's play a team of all RH starting pitchers. I see Oakland taking 4 starting pitchers, 7 relief pitchers, and 14 position players. I am betting that A.J. Griffin makes the cut for the rotation and that Dan Straily edges out Jesse Chavez for a long reliever -- again this is a tough call, because Straily is the better pitcher but Chavez is the one more accustomed to pitching in relief, but I'm guessing that the A's will want the better pitcher for a possible extra inning, or long relief, call.
So here's my best guess at an ALDS roster if the A's match up with, say, Detroit and do not figure to face any LH starting pitchers:
It seems like everything is covered here. You have 3 catchers, meaning you can easily pinch hit for a catcher to keep the platoon advantage or insert a defensive catcher for the late innings. You have backups everywhere on the infield, and the option of an excellent defender at 1B. You have DH options in Smith and Moss, and a good RH bench with Young, Callaspo, and Norris.
I don't know if I'm saying this is the roster I expect against an opponent like Detroit, or if I'm saying this is the roster I would choose, but it's the one I come up with when I do the math. Your thoughts?