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A's Need To Do Better At "Seeing What They Have"

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Edward Mujica picks up the tattered remnants of a mediocre career.
Edward Mujica picks up the tattered remnants of a mediocre career.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

OK, 2015 wasn't their year. No, Newbob, the A's aren't going make a run and challenge for the second wild card and you know it -- your job is to put off using the term "spoilers" as long as is mathematically possible, but in your heart you know full well that the A's will spend the last 1/3 of the season strictly as spoilers -- for example last night they spoiled things for the Angels.

The A's brass could be doing a lot more to look ahead while still trying to compete. They have, now, a lot of players they need to learn more about, along with quite a few players they know far too much about, and in many cases the wrong players are in key roles.

Some examples:

Closer

Why in the world is Edward Mujica closing? He is arguably the worst of the A's 7 bad relievers, and there are relievers the A's need to see right now. Does Fernando Rodriguez have the chops to close? Why not learn more about Rodriguez, who has been as close to a bright spot as there has been in the A's bullpen? Can Evan Scribner, he of the 4 BBs, 54 Ks, ∞ HRs, and 0 options, rebound and warrant a spot in the 2016 pen? The A's will need to make a clear decision about Scribner since they cannot stash him at AAA. Those two might scare you as late inning, high leverage options, but they shouldn't scare you any more than Mujica.

Danny Valencia

I want to see Danny Valencia every day. I know what Eric Sogard can do, and thank you for the cookies, but Valencia is an intriguing talent with his sustained ability to mash LHPs and his success so far this season against RHPs. At 30 years old, under contract through 2017, and having one of his best seasons in 2015, Valencia has a chance to be more than just a role player for the A's. Is he a possible "your trash is our treasure" find off of the "we have too much hitting, can you maybe take this guy" Blue Jays trash heap? I want to see more of Brett Lawrie at 2B, where he looked fluid and comfortable in his start there on Wednesday.

Mark Canha

Splits in small samples may be noise, but no matter how you slice it Mark Canha has more than held his own against RHPs this season. He may or may not be part of the 2016 picture -- remember, the A's can put him in AAA next season -- but wouldn't now be the time to find out what he can do in LF, at 1B, against RHPs, against LHPs, with every day playing time? All for the price of fewer at bats for Sam Fuld and Ike Davis?

If you're worried about harming the A's production at the plate in order to see more of Canha, consider these 2015 stats against RHPs:

Mark Canha: .262/.313/.476
Ike Davis: .242/.320/.368
Sam Fuld: .223/.294/.321

Of course, Coco Crisp's return to the roster complicates matters but one way or another I would like to see Canha get 4-5 starts a week, even if at Davis' expense at 1B against RHPs.

In other words, here's a lineup that would better help the A's determine where they have wheat, and where they have chaff, come 2016:

Burns - CF
Crisp - LF
Vogt - C
Lawrie - 2B
Reddick - RF
Valencia - 3B
Butler - DH (grrrrr, would rather try Muncy* against RHPs but Butler's here for now)
Canha - 1B
Semien - SS

High leverage relievers: Rodriguez, Scribner, Pomeranz, Abad

* Speaking of Muncy, he is batting .290/.385/.480 vs. RHPs at AAA this season at age 24. Butler is batting .258/.301/.364 against RHPs.

Then call up Pat Venditte and R.J. Alvarez, don't be afraid to jettison Mujica if you need a roster spot, and let's really look ahead to 2016 with an eye on identifying a couple key pieces of positive data going forward. Maybe it's that Valencia can hit RHPs and Scribner is back to form. Perhaps it's that Rodriguez can close and Lawrie looks terrific at 2B.

Seems more useful than waiting for Ike Davis' 4th HR or wishing for a 3-year time warp that could make Butler and Mujica useful. Shouldn't the emphasis these last 8 weeks be on finding out what the A's have for next season? It's not like they don't have interesting pieces -- they just need playing time over the dull ones.