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4 Games: What To Actually Worry About And What Not To

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If you're worried that Kendall Graveman is going to have an 18.90 ERA this season, you're wasting your energy. Four games is the kind of sample that tries to convince you that Craig Gentry will go hitless this season and that Sam Fuld will fight Mark Trumbo for the league's lead in triples.

However, some of the indicators from the season's first series may in fact be harbingers of things to come because invariably some of the patterns that are poised to emerge over a long season will happen to evidence themselves from the git-go.

I think the A's are going to mash against LHP, as they did last night. Cody Ross only adds to a group that already had Mark Canha, Josh Phegley, Tyler Ladendorf and Craig Gentry available on the long side of the platoon, but which also figures to get excellent hitting against LHPs from Marcus Semien, Ben Zobrist, and Billy Butler. (I only omit Brett Lawrie because in his career so far he actually has reverse platoon splits.) The A's lineup against LHPs looks strong and deep.

In contrast, I still think the A's lineup is insufficient to handle RHPs on a regular basis and we saw evidence of this in the Rangers' series. Oakland managed all of 1 run in 13 IP against Colby Lewis and Nick Martinez, and make no mistake about it: Those two guys are going to get torched a lot this season.

Clearly the A's pursued Ross because he was not only good on one side of the platoon but also dirt cheap: The A's will pay Ross league minimum salary and did not have to trade a player in order to add him. However, Ross is simply not the side of the platoon the A's needed to bolster.

Some hopes are resting on Josh Reddick's return this weekend, but honestly Reddick is not going to solve the problem. Yes, Reddick is an upgrade over Sam Fuld or or Craig Gentry or Eric Sogard, but that's really more of a referendum on Fuld's and Sogard's and Gentry's batting than it is a send-up of Reddick's hitting prowess. Reddick is a defense-first player with some pop but he is closer to being an average hitter than he is to being a go-to guy. Reddick will improve the lineup against RHPs -- a little.

Similarly, I am in favor of giving Canha playing time against RHPs but that is largely because I think his skill set is complementary with that of Sogard's, Fuld's, and Gentry's. That is, the A's have a lot of players who offer excellent defense, good speed, and little pop, and Canha offers the opposite. That being said, I think a likely slash line for Canha against RHPs is something like .250/.300/.440 -- the potential for better, and the need for slugging, warrants giving him a shot but I would not actually count on anything more.

Slot Reddick in and your lineup options look kind of like this:

CF - Fuld
LF - Zobrist
1B - Davis
DH - Butler
C - Vogt
3B - Lawrie
RF - Reddick
SS - Semien
2B - Sogard

CF - Fuld
2B - Zobrist
1B - Davis
DH - Butler
C - Vogt
3B - Lawrie
RF - Reddick
LF - Canha
SS - Semien

Either way, it's OK...sort of, most days. Good enough to knock out Yovani Gallardo and bad enough to get smothered by Colby Lewis or blanked by Nick Martinez. What the A's actually need is a COFer or 2Bman who excels against RHP  even if that player is only average defensively and/or can't hit LHPs worth a flying fig (coughDanielNavacough).

Last season the A's were vulnerable to LHPs and this was a problem, but it was only half the problem you have when you are vulnerable to RHPs. That's because twice as many of the league's starting pitchers are right handed. Coco Crisp's return is still much in the distance and I can foresee April and May being littered with too many games in which Oakland makes a mediocre RHP look better than he is.

All of which is to say that I still feel the A's are one -- but only one -- move away from true contention, and that the first series of the year only cemented that perception.