No one wanted to see Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin go down in 2014 before even a pitch was thrown. Yet there was one silver lining to the timing: The A's knew that if they wanted to compete, they needed more pitching depth than if those two were healthy. Some things are better to know than to find out.
This year's spring training "daily double" comes in the corner outfield, where would-be RFer Josh Reddick and would-be LFer Coco Crisp are likely on the shelf at least for the first 5 games. But is this really a 5-game problem? No. Both players have injury histories and in the case of Crisp, a 35-year old with a degenerative neck condition and a balky elbow, it seems almost inevitable that his availability will be sporadic throughout the remainder of his contract.
So then it's an "entire 2015 season" issue? Well actually...organizationally the A's are a bit of a mess right now when it comes to the COF. It's where they have the least minor league depth or talent coming through the pipeline. In other words...
The A's have a dearth of good COFers for the 2015 season's first week, but really have little stability they can count on throughout the 2015 season, and then not much in the way of a "next wave" of COF talent. While it would make little sense to acquire an every day COFer to solve a 5-day problem, in reality the A's could potentially acquire an every day COFer to solve a "5-day, 6 month, several year" issue. The 5-day problem would merely be the triggering event.
That's why I have not given up on the possibility of an 11th hour trade that would send away some excess pitching (is there really such a thing?) in order to bolster Oakland's options in the COF next week, next month, next year and beyond. Adding an OFer might mean letting Sam Fuld go, or it might mean playing Ben Zobrist at 2B every day, sending Eric Sogard to AAA, and rolling with an extra OFer if and when everyone is healthy.
As far as who Oakland might be chatting with these days, something has to give with the Red Sox and their glut of OFers. I have, in the recent past, mentioned Daniel Nava, who is under contract control for 3 more years, as a great platoon partner for Mark Canha. One intriguing factor is that Nava, who is listed 3rd on the LF depth chart and 4th on the RF depth chart, is out of options and cannot be sent to AAA.
A bounce-back candidate, if the A's are looking for a little more power, is the familiar Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez had a bad 2014 (not just a .238/.292/.431 line with only 11 HRs, but a downright putrid .160/.224/.319 line on the road), but go back just one season and in 2013 you find .297/.382/.622 line against RHPs and a truly impressive .332/.381/.606 line on the road. Gonzalez is 29, and like Nava is under contract through 2017. He is owed $16M, $17M, and $20M from 2015-17.
Ryan Cook is clearly available in trade. Likely so are Fernando Abad or Eric O'Flaherty if the A's can solve a pressing need now and in the future. Jesse Chavez, as valuable as he is, might also be a piece Oakland could spare in order to make a needed upgrade.
What do you think? I mean, sure, Crisp and Reddick will be back after just a few games and we will set for a while in the COF. Or will we, really?