clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Blogfather Notes On The “Morning Before”...

Kansas City Royals v Oakland Athletics
This is a nice change of pace.
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

So with the official announcement that Aaron Brooks has won the #5 SP gig, the A’s have solidified their 25-man roster and are gearing up to open the season — again — with a 4-game series against the Southern California Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Near LA. Ruminations, reflections, predictions, prognostications, and other nouns that don’t happen to begin with ‘r’ or ‘p’...

Aaron Brooks

Brooks excelled last night in his bid to earn a spot he was on the verge of being handed due to his options status. Now not only is Chris Bassitt hurt (shin), Paul Blackburn still coming back from last season’s injury, Daniel Mengden recovering not from injury but from a very disappointing Cactus League performance, Brooks may have affirmatively earned the spot with a fairly dazzling effort against the Giants.

Was Brooks actually that good or did he just have good results? According to the Eyeball Scout, while Brooks was fairly decent for the first half of his performance, perhaps a better hitting team would have pounced on the occasional mistake. But then Brooks got locked in and for the last 2+ innings he was dealing.

The stuff is there, with Brooks consistently hitting low-90s with his fastball and keeping hitters out on the front foot with his changeup. The slider’s location was inconsistent but got better over time, and the sinking action on his fastball keeps a lot of balls on the ground.

Make no mistake, Brooks will be tested immediately as to whether he is, for the first time, ready to succeed in the big leagues (in 60.2 IP, his career ERA is 8.01). His first two starts figure to be at home against the Boston Red Sox and then at Minute Maid Park against the Houston Astros. If he survives those two starts, we may have something. If not, well...he has, after all, surrendered 86 hits in a career of less than 61 IP, 10 of which have left the yard.

Canha Get A Commitment?

I really want to encourage the “powers that be” to simplify matters while Matt Olson is out and just hand Mark Canha the 1B job every day until further notice. All the evidence points the same way:

- Canha has always been the type of hitter who needs to play regularly in order to thrive.

- As we saw the last two nights, when he’s in a groove Canha can be one of the real impact hitters in the A’s lineup. Not only did he have three extra-base hits, all were scorched.

- Jurickson Profar does not look great at 1B. Granted he may do better and better as he gets more reps, but so far we have seen him “olé” the hardest hit balls and appear not to be nearly as comfortable as he looks at 2B.

- Why are we moving guys all around the diamond to positions in which they are worse? Not just Profar but also Chad Pinder, a plus defensive outfielder who is not great on the infield. A right side of the infield of Pinder and Profar is going to be pretty poor defensively, not to mention Robbie Grossman in LF.

The A’s are complicating what should be relatively straight-forward: roll with Canha at 1B, leave Profar at 2B, leave Pinder in LF, and let Franklin Barreto, during this stretch of 18 consecutive days of baseball, get several starts as each of Canha, Profar, Semien, Pinder, Laureano, and Piscotty get scheduled days off along the way.

The Cream Rises And The Sludge Falls

Not sure what’s up with Ryan Buchter (he always has terrible springs, so let’s hope he’s about to turn the corner), but as for the rest of the bullpen make no mistake about who the A’s two poorest relievers are: the two who lack command of their good “stuff”. That would be Fernando Rodney and Liam Hendriks, the former of whom should not have had his option picked up and the latter of whom should not be thrust into highly competitive situations.

Fortunately the A’s have plenty of good options for high leverage, with the truly amazing Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino backed by Joaquim Soria, Buchter, and the versatile Yusmeiro Petit, along with the potentially emerging J.B. Wendelken.

The A’s need to recognize that Rodney and Hendriks are their lower leverage arms and they will be fine. When the pressure is off and he doesn’t overthrow, Hendriks can be dominant. Rodney, who wasn’t even throwing hard on Monday, is utterly erratic but if he is used more in mop-up roles instead of like someone “with 325 career saves!!!” then he’s fine. Overall the A’s bullpen is excellent — just know who your best guys are and who they aren’t and all should be well.

Lou Trivino

I am still marveling over Trivino’s changeups on Monday night. Not only were they devastating, he threw the pitch over and over and executed it beautifully every time with action every bit as good as the Kazuhiro Sasaki splitter of which I was reminded watching the pitch dive down and away from a LH batter.

Trivino already throws a plus fastball and cutter, with a good curve that offers a change of pace. Last season, Fangraphs had Trivino throwing his changeup 1% of the time, which is 1% more than I can recall, and they had his changeup at 88 MPH. This one came in at 85MPH, was clearly a changeup, and was unhittable as well as utterly deceptive.

If he can continue to throw his changeup the way he did Monday night — and at least Monday he was able to repeat it — I think Trivino has a chance to elevate his game to “Treinen levels”. of complete dominance. And I do not make that comparison lightly.

Away we go, Thursday afternoon, for what I will call the “real start of the season”. Tokyo is a distant and dim turfy-domey-middle-of-the-nighty memory and the cure for two losses is to put some wins on the board on that wacky North American continent. Chapman’s speed, everyone.