Craig "0-fer" Gentry
Craig Gentry has had an abysmal start to the season. Not only is he 0 for 22 to start the year, but he also has two errors in 54 innings. As an outfielder that's pretty obnoxious. Aside from Opening Night, the A's have tried to platoon him, but it has not helped. Is he injured? Just on a slow start? Still feeling the after-effects of a concussion? Of course, we don't really know the answer. What we do know is that he's not helping at the moment. Meanwhile, Billy Burns tore up Spring Training but was sent down when Josh Reddick returned from the disabled list. After being sent down with nary an at-bat, he's only hitting .396/.458/.528 at AAA-Nashville. Yeah that's a .986 OPS. Burns can play CF, probably not as well as Gentry but good enough for a backup. He'll be fine in LF as well. You can't let a guy that red hot languish in AAA.
According to options whiz and general master of facts Jeremy F. Koo Gentry can still be optioned until the end of June, by which time he reaches five years of MLB service time. So technically we can send him down and not lose him. I think at this point it's a no-brainer.
Verdict: Send down Gentry, call up Burns.
Airborne groundballer Eric O'Flaherty
Eric O'Flaherty has been difficult to watch this year. Bob Melvin has used him in close games based on his track record of being a high level reliever with the Braves, and in a small sample with the A's last season. He's known as a groundball machine, a guy who can get the double play when you need it, forcing batters to roll over.
However, this season has not gone so well. He's got a 7.5 ERA in 6 innings. However he also allowed runs on his own throwing error (not counted in ERA), and has blown every close game he has been put into. Batters are hitting .333 against him. His demeanor reminds me of the manager who just received a "vote of confidence." Grim and defeated.
That being said, it is just six innings. His groundball/flyball ratio is a strong 2.33, far higher than his career percentage. He's getting his groundballs, despite the meltdown in the Royals series. However it seems that the flyballs are coming at times when they are damaging. They are mistake pitches, pure and simple. We saw Dan Otero coolly pitch four shutout innings two days back after a rocky start. We knew Otero was capable of that based on his history.
Right now, O'Flaherty is allowing a .421 BABIP, so a lot of the groundballs are finding holes. Assuming he won't keep throwing pickoffs into centerfield, it seems that he might turn it around. I wanted to cut him after the Royals game, but that was more of an emotional response for blowing it against the jerks that were throwing at the A's all series. I think he still may turn it around and if he does he will be an extremely valuable member of the bullpen.
Verdict: Wait and see, but maybe find another option for the 8th inning in close games.
Graveman lacking location
Kendall Graveman was a Spring Training surprise. With a miniscule spring ERA and obvious "stuff," he wrested a starting job away from Jesse Chavez. He looked like an immediate return on the controversial Josh Donaldson trade. Three starts in, he looks lost at the major league level. The sinker sinks, at times, but he just can't place it where he needs to. His secondary pitches sometimes look great and sometimes look like extremely hittable balloons. He needs to develop consistency.
We chalked up his first start to nerves, but he's now three starts in with a 6.94 ERA and has lasted a combined 11⅔ innings. He was pulled in his last start with the lead before he could pitch the requisite five innings to get the win.
Verdict: The kid ain't ready, yet. However he's going to have to keep pitching until Jesse Hahn is ready to return. At that point Jesse Chavez should take his spot in the rotation. He can move to AAA or perhaps to the bullpen to help shore up that debacle.
Marcus "Stonehands" Semien
I've seen a lot of complaints about Marcus Semien's 6 errors in 15 games. Most of the errors seem to be on routine throws or routine groundballs, or as was the case yesterday, on Albert Pujols line drive that was literally directly at him. Once in softball I hit a searing line drive right down the right field line but it was directly at the first baseman. It clanged off his glove even though he didn't have to move a step. I was overjoyed at my good fortune. I bet that's how Pujols felt.
Yes, he's screwing up routine plays at a defense-first position. Yes, you have a "right" to be concerned about his defense. That being said, he clearly has the range and the arm strength to handle the position. Note that he has bounced around multiple positions over the past year with the White Sox, who were not going to groom him as a SS with Alexei Ramirez around. He, Lawrie, and Zobrist/Sogard have all never worked with each other, and getting used to your teammates and their range and styles also takes some time. A lot has been placed on this guy in his first full season.
And then, there's the whole hitting thing. Which he's not bad at, for a shortstop. His average is low at .236 but he's got a .700 OPS, buoyed by two home runs and three doubles in 55 at bats.
Verdict: Despite the errors, let's not worry about another solution at SS just yet. With Ben Zobrist out, the A's really have no one better, and his bat deserves to be in the lineup.
RJ "Wild Thing" Alvarez
Being the last guy in the bullpen and stacked with options, RJ Alvarez is destined for a season between the majors and AAA, unless he shows some brilliance. He was going to be the right handed specialist out of the bullpen but he's generally shown velocity and not much else. Yesterday he was the sacrificial lamb, throwing 60 pitches. His intentional walk registered at 92 MPH. I don't what that means but it seems he doesn't really have a handle on the whole pitching thing yet.
Bob Melvin no doubt wished he could have shut down the Angels and pitched the 8th, but thankfully he was unable to do so and we got to see Ike Davis pitch.
8 hits (2 HR), 5 walks, and 8 ER in just 6 innings (12.00 ERA).
Verdict: He was cruelly used up yesterday, and will inevitably be sent down for more bullpen help. Anyone excelling at AAA (Pat Venditte, Ryan Cook, Arnold Leon) will suffice. Looks like it's Leon coming up.
These are my ideas...what about yours?