Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin has indicated that a youth movement is afoot for the club in his pre-game meeting with A’s beat writers as we get the second half started:
Melvin says with situation #Athletics are in, they need to see what they have with the young kids. Sounds like that's the focus now.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 15, 2016
To that end, the A’s are making Ryon Healy the starting third baseman and will be reducing playing time for third baseman Danny Valencia and center fielder Coco Crisp, with Jake Smolinski getting playing time in center:
#Athletics will go with rookie Ryon Healy at 3B, Bob Melvin says. Danny Valencia will play some 1B, LF, DH but will lose playing time.— John Hickey (@JHickey3) July 15, 2016
Crisp also going to lose some playing time, Melvin indicates. Interesting - figured with Burns' demotion would play more. Smolinski instead.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 15, 2016
Ryon Healy is making his major league debut at third base for the Oakland A’s tonight, with Jake Smolinski in center field, Coco Crisp the designated hitter, and Danny Valencia on the bench. It’s a surprise for Valencia, who is the team’s top hitter (.304/.356/.498, 130 wRC+) but has struggled massively as a third baseman. I’m not sure how Valencia has 13 errors at the hot corner when his extremely poor range prevents him from getting to a lot of balls in the first place.
Valencia says was told 1B, LF, DH all a possibility. But as for reduced time, "I didn't think I'd go from hitting 4th to not playing."— Joe Stiglich (@JoeStiglichCSN) July 15, 2016
It would seem there’s a pretty obvious solution to all of this, let Valencia be the full-time designated hitter. But one wonders if a lack of hustle that has gone well past the point of taking it easy after his hamstring injury has led Bob Melvin to have Valencia play a reduced role:
@oakclubhouse he has been a bit in the doghouse as I mentioned the other day.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 15, 2016
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Slusser reported on July 9 that Valencia’s “lack of hustle on a grounder a few nights earlier ... had earned him a chewing out from manager Bob Melvin.” The concern at this point is that the A’s seem to be taking a hot bat and reducing his playing time, a recipe to severely reducing Valencia’s trade value.
Coco Crisp’s reduced playing time is in some ways a welcome one. He was on a pace to reach the 130 games or 550 plate appearances that would making his $13 million option vest (become guaranteed), but now the A’s at the very least have the choice to part ways with him. Crisp just doesn’t have the range to be a quality outfielder anymore. While his recovery from his degenerative neck issue is way above my expectations, he’s still a 36-year-old hitting .244/.305/.411 (90 wRC+).
If you pull back to the long view, I suppose you can read this as a shakeup for a club that’s on its way to finishing worse than the 2015 club before selling off its best players in their last one or two years of A’s team control. The future is coming, but we’ll have to wait a few weeks — or a few months — for the past to depart.