On Monday we got some late night heroics as the A’s came from behind to win in extra innings in the first of two against the Angels. A win like that against a division rival can really provide a spark for a team, but it doesn’t take away from the Oakland’s primary issue; the A’s offense is pretty awful. You know it, I know it, the A’s know it.
As a team, Oakland has a slash line of .237/.305/.353 (BA/OBP/SLG). At some point, something’s got to give.
Conventional baseball wisdom will tell you that it’s too early to worry about batting averages, that games in May aren’t nearly important as games in September, and that as soon as the weather heats up, so will the bats. Bologna.
I understand the sentiment that the team at the end of the season will likely have a few different faces, but mathematically a loss now is the same as later in season. Any time you can gain ground in the standings, you have to take advantage of it and the fact of the matter is, though I never want to see a player (on my team or another) get hurt, the Rangers and Angels, the two teams ahead of the A’s in the AL West standings, have some very significant injuries that they are dealing with.
The time for the A’s to make a run and put a little cushion between them and the competition is RIGHT NOW!
So who stays and who goes? I think a trade or two must be made, and next week I’ll look at some possible targets, but right now I want to focus on some in-house options. The A’s have some fairly interesting options in the minors.
By my count, barring injury, the positions likely to be replaced with a prospect will probably be an infielder. Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David Dejesus make up the outfield and are probably the team’s three best hitters right now, which admittedly isn’t saying much, but they aren’t going anywhere yet.
Daric Barton is also safe. He’s been in a season long slump it seems like, but he was one of the team’s better hitters last year and is part of the team’s future plans so he’ll get ample time to work his way out of this rut. And with last night’s two out game tying RBI in the ninth, maybe that will happen sooner than later.
I know what you’re thinking, where are the A’s going to put Chris Carter if not in the outfield or first base? The truth is with the DH spot locked up by Hideki Matsui, and the aforementioned log jams, I just don’t see enough room for Carter yet. He’s got a thumb injury right now anyway, so it doesn’t matter as much, but unless someone is traded or injured, there just aren’t enough at bats for Carter until September.
There are three guys who I think can help right now or in the very new future and I’m putting them in order of how soon I think they can help.
Jemile Weeks, the A’s first round pick in 2008, is cruising at AAA hitting .313/.412/.461. We really don’t know a whole lot about Weeks yet because throughout his short career, he’s had some injury problems, and true to form he’s currently a little slowed by a ham string issue. But the guy has some serious talent and can be a spark plug for this lineup. He gets on base, has a little pop in the bat and is lightening quick. I love me some Mark Ellis, but all the defense in the world can’t cover up his .194 batting average forever.
The next guy is another second baseman but has played all over the diamond in the minors, Adrian Cardenas. Cardenas is hitting even better at .368/.424/.507 but seems to be viewed by scouts and the organization as a lesser prospect than Weeks. On top of that no one is quite sure where to put him on defense as he best profiles at second base but Weeks occupies that spot. There’s no question he can hit though. He’s never hit for much power but he’s hit for average at every level, and obviously AAA pitching is not posing much of a problem right now.
The last guy certainly has the most upside of the three but is at least a month a way from being ready and probably closer to a year. Grant Green was drafted by the A’s in the first round of the 2009 draft and is widely viewed as the team’s best prospect. He dominated last year in his first year of pro ball and after starting out slow early on this year, he is now hitting .293/.357/.407. Those are pretty solid numbers, but he’s going to have to cut down on his strikeouts before he moves on to the next level and his defense at short could use some work. If that happens, though, the A’s could really use his bat by mid season, even at third base.
Regardless of whether these guys are the answer, the A’s somehow have to find a way to score more runs. They owe it to their pitching.
About the Author
Written by Josh Muller
My name is Josh Muller. I was born and raised in Oakland, California and currently live in San Francisco. I watch sports religiously and organize my calender year to coincide with baseball season. I'm a diehard A's and Warriors fan, love talking sports all day and believe that the words "Opening Day" are the two greatest in the English language.