First things first: I am definitely a fan of the A’s and I am definitely not a fan of the bees. This past week has been “Infestation Week” and while my home has been buzzing it has not been enjoyable.
Apparently those deck umbrellas (not duck umbrellas; they’re cool too) make for excellent affordable housing for nests. On Tuesday the dozen or so bees/wasps/yellowjackets/whatever flying around in my bedroom were collecting their mail at one of the 3 umbrellas in my backyard/balcony. So pest control treated those nests only for the problem to persist until pest control came back and discovered 6 nests in the attic. There’s nothing like 101 degree record heat on days you can’t open your windows for fear of landing in the middle of an Alfred Hitchcock film.
Chasing bees out of your home when they think it’s their home is a bit like chasing sliders down and away if you’re Ryon Healy. Speaking of Healy — heck of a smooth segue, right? — the A’s have an interesting dilemma on their hands with the brace of “powerful hacking DH types,” that two-headed monster that is Ryon Healy and Renato Nuñez.
Nuñez will be called up next week, but the Eyeball Scout does not see September as a great month to make judgments based on observations. “Never fall in love in March or September” is not a meme created just for Daric Barton. It is a reminder that the competition those months is different from the pure 25-man rosters you compete against in April, May, June, July, and August.
As a result we will get another look at Nuñez, who leads all of MiLB in HRs with 32, but arguably we will not learn a whole lot. This is problematic because the A’s have a decision to make this off-season in regards to Nuñez, Healy, Khris Davis, and anyone else the A’s fancy as “ideally or primarily a DH”.
Oakland has a decision to make because Nuñez will be out of options. So unless he is traded, Nuñez should be a favorite to win a big league roster spot out of spring training in 2018, but that spot would have to come at the expense of Healy.
Healy does have options and could be stashed in AAA, but for all his flaws the A’s primary DH does have some legitimate big league “street cred” with 23 HRs, 71 RBI, and a .343/.360/.602 line against LHPs. Healy is a legitimate masher against LHPs and a dangerous hitter against all. He is also sporting a .241/.276/.415 line against RHPs this season.
One point against Healy is that he is not making adjustments. He will chase a bad slider he failed, yet again, to recognize, chastise himself and then do it again. That is worrisome.
On the other hand, Nuñez comes with pretty much the identical profile of a lefty-masher whose hacktastic style does not play so well against RHPs. As alluring as the power is, at age 23 Nuñez is sporting only a .315 OBP in AAA this season and that is right in line with his career MiLB OBP of .317. Nuñez’ OBP against RHPs this year at AAA? It’s .296. Last season? .282.
Essentially, what Healy is doing in the big leagues, at age 25, and what Nuñez is doing at AAA, at age 23, are very comparable. Both are very slow, both are disasters at 3B who are serviceable at 1B. Nuñez is trying out LF, but ironically that position is currently held by the third A’s player whose strength is power and whose weaknesses show up in the field.
So do you kick Healy to AAA hoping that Nuñez is his equal at the big league level, knowing that there are no guarantees Nuñez’ skill set will translate to MLB and that his minor league track record predicts quite a bit of failure against big league RHPs? Or do you stick with Healy as a known quantity and jettison Nuñez to a team in seach of power at the DH spot? Or do you punt on both of them in order to shed your team’s hacktastic and defensively challenged ways, in favor of DHing K. Davis and creating a “brave new outfield” — perhaps a stronger overall defensive crew of Boog Powell, Dustin Fowler, and the platoon of Matt Joyce/Chad Pinder?
Speaking of Boog Powell, he has looked as bad at the plate this week as he looked unstoppable his first week. Will the real Boog Powell please stand up (and serve me something with BBQ sauce)?
What the Eyeball Scout has noticed is that teams are busting Powell inside with a lot of success — for them, not for Boog. Powell’s strength lies in his ability to spray line drives to all fields, and his kryptonite is going to be that inside pitch on which he cannot extend his arms.
Powell has pulled a couple inside pitches deep, such as the one he yanked foul near the RF foul pole last night, but hopefully he will not be seduced by the occasional loud (and usually foul) contact. Mostly he has chased, or weakly popped up, those inside pitches and my first piece of advice to Powell would be to swing much less at inside pitches. They are not your friend. Your friends are hanging out on the outer third of the plate, not in on the hands. Fight off strikes on the inner third when you have to, but attack the ones middle-away.
I love Powell’s defense and his plate discipline. How he handles inside pitches — and specifically whether he can lay off more of them — is likely going to determine his level of success going forward.
How should the A’s handle the DH position in 2018?
This poll is closed
Healy primary DH, let Nuñez go if need be
Nuñez primary DH, stash Healy in AAA
K. Davis to DH, let Powell or Pinder get every day time in the COF
Other (explained in comments)