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3 Things to watch in June for the A’s

Some big things happening this month

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Oakland Athletics Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The A’s record isn’t something to be proud of at the moment but there have been a few interesting things happening on the field for the team. Rookie center fielder Esteury Ruiz has taken off (literally) and become a fixture atop the batting order while causing havoc on the base paths. He currently leads all of baseball with 28 stolen bases. Ryan Noda, the Rule 5 pick who has been hitting in the top third of the batting order almost everyday is thriving. The power isn’t quite what you’d hope for from a first baseman but he definitely draws more than his share of walks to help make up for that. Now that Jesus Aguilar is gone we’ll get to see if Noda can handle everyday duties. And the return of Paul Blackburn should boost what has been a hard to watch pitching staff. He looked really good in that first game back.

But there are still some other questions that need answers, some of which we should be getting soon. Including…

  1. Does someone lay claim to third base? The offseason signing of Jace Peterson was expected to solidify the position, or at least improve upon the production out of that spot from last year. Peterson wasn’t expected to light the world on fire and probably would be platooning the entire season anyway, but he hasn’t gotten going with the bat and hasn’t been much of an upgrade over last year while getting the bulk of playing time. Fellow offseason addition Aledmyz Diaz hasn’t been the answer either as he’s struggled offensively and has dealt with injury problems already this year while also filling in at other positions.

Oakland doesn’t have any young top prospect lined up and ready to go at the position either, so the bulk of the playing time has gone to the veterans. Yet we know what we’ll be getting in Peterson and Diaz moving forward and the A’s have begun trying out different combinations. Kevin Smith got a week’s worth of starts there and now it’s Jonah Bride’s turn as he has been getting the nod since his recent recall from Vegas. Bride had a nice first game but nothing else since. He was hitting well in Vegas at the time of his recall but always take hitting stats down there with a grain of salt.

And now there’s also news that the A’s would be using Jordan Diaz more at third base in Triple-A moving forward. Smart, considering that his main position of second base happens to be the same position that #2 prospect Zack Gelof also plays. Moving Diaz to third is probably the only way those two players can be in the same lineup on an everyday basis. It feels like it’s only a matter of time until Gelof gets the call to the majors but if Diaz proves capable as a third baseman he could be right behind him and ticketed for time at the hot corner. Would that be sooner than later? Oakland has been aggressive with their younger players this year so it wouldn’t come as a huge surprise to see more roster shuffling over the coming weeks.

2. Will the real Brent Rooker please stand up? A monster start to the season got A’s fans excited about the former 1st round pick. Never really given a long opportunity for everyday at-bats in the big leagues, Rooker came out of Spring Training looking like a man on a mission. He hit .358/.471/.791 with nine home runs in the month of April and claimed the #3 spot in the batting order on a regular basis. He even won a Player of the Week award during that hot start.

And then the calendar turned to May. Rooker’s hot bat went ice cold as his slash line for the month was only .196/.291/.320 with only a pair of bombs. The strikeouts skyrocketed during this time while the walks decreased, always a recipe for disaster. He probably would never have kept up his first month’s production but the huge dropoff is sobering for those of us hoping the A’s found a diamond in the rough. Regression was always incoming but this much?

Rooker still leads the team in home runs with 11 but the team could really use April Rooker right about now. He needs to hit better than this past month because he’s not playing defense right now as the everyday DH. Clearly the league needed a bit of time to adjust to him and accordingly did so. Now it’s Rooker’s time to adjust to the adjustment. Is he going to be capable of doing that? Is May Rooker the one we should expect moving forward? And how long of a leash did that monster April afford him?

3. June 13th: The Reverse Boycott. It’s still on, even with the news that ownership is pushing ahead with the Vegas move. Still, Oakland A’s fans persist in trying anything and everything to bring attention to the situation. From signs in the outfield to shirts emblazoned with ‘SELL’, the fans are letting the rest of the baseball world exactly how they feel about the potential loss of their team.

The attendance will be the main thing to watch here. Oakland fans are already some of the loudest and most passionate in the game so we don’t need to worry about them bringing the energy. That said, it is going to be on a random Tuesday evening during one of the worst seasons in baseball history. The Coliseum is already one of the biggest ballparks in the league and it’ll take everyone bringing themselves and their friends to really get the place packed against the Rays. Which, by the way, feels like the perfect matchup because of the contrasting fortunes of a fellow low-spending club.

And does the seemingly imminent move to Vegas discourage fans from even attempting this? It would feel a lot more powerful if the club had yet to announce their plans to move but now it wouldn’t come as a shock to hear some fans say “What’s the point?” The point is, if this really is the end of the Oakland era of baseball, then fans shouldn’t go down without kicking and screaming until the shovels hit the ground in Nevada. This is going to draw the attention of the national baseball media and let everyone know that the fans aren’t the problem, and they never have been. I’ll be there with everything I need: my ‘sell’ shirt, my sign (still determining what to write), and my passion for our Oakland team.