Coming into spring training, the Oakland A’s certainly had their fair share of positional battles to sort out. The outfield can come together in a multitude of combinations and the final two spots of the rotation, as well as the starting first base job are wide open. But one position that seemed to be as much of a certainty as any was third base.
Billy Beane acquired Scott Sizemore, a guy he’d had his eye on for a while, midseason last year from Detroit and he really impressed during the short time he was with the A’s. He got on base, showed some pop from the right side of the plate and his defense proved more than adequate.
Today, the A’s are much less certain about third base.
On the first day of full squad workouts, Sizemore tore the ACL in his left knee, which will sideline him for the entire 2012 season at least.
I really feel bad for the guy. He finally got his shot in Oakland last year and made the best of it. A’s manager, Bob Melvin, thought that this was going to be a breakout year for Sizemore. I always hate seeing this kind of thing happen, especially to a guy who worked so hard to finally get his chance, and even more especially at the beginning of spring training.
Replacing Sizemore will be no spring picnic either. It’s not that he was a superstar by any means but unlike other positions, the A’s have a serious lack of depth at third base not only at the major league level but throughout the minor league system as well.
The top candidate to replace him is catcher Josh Donaldson. Donaldson has some experience at the hot corner and worked on it extensively in the Dominican League this offseason to the point where the A’s feel like he can handle the position full time in the majors. He’s right handed, has a little pop, and actually profiles similarly to Sizemore. Listening to A’s front office personnel and coaches, it sounds like they’re really excited to give him a chance, but he’s anything but a sure thing.
Other in house options include familiar names like Eric Sogard and Adam Rosales, both of whom would ideally be utility types in the A’s eyes, and non-roster-invitee Wes Timmons. Timmons is a career minor leaguer without much in the way of power, but he put up good numbers in AA and AAA last year and the A’s can’t really be picky right now.
Stephen Parker is the only legitimate third base prospect (and I say that generously) in the upper levels of the minors but he probably needs at least another year in AAA, didn’t hit as much last year and leaves much to be desired on the defensive end. So I really don’t think he has a shot, though he’ll get a look.
There really aren’t a whole lot of options here. I’ve always liked Donaldson, and he’s been in the system for a few years now. He’s been blocked by Suzuki, who isn’t going anywhere, so it would be nice to see him get some at-bats somewhere on the diamond.
Of course there is always a trade to be made. If Donaldson doesn’t pan out, which is a very real possibility, the A’s could use one of their bazillion outfielders to acquire a third baseman. Obviously this guy wouldn’t be an all star but the A’s just need a body at this point.
The popular name being thrown around by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle is Angels 3B, Alberto Callaspo. Not sure how willing the Angels and A’s would be willing to trade within the division but Callaspo is the caliber of player you can expect the A’s to pursue at this point. He’s a solid player but nothing more.
I wouldn’t expect any trades too soon. The A’s really do want to give Donaldson a long look and feel good about his chances. Even before Sizemore’s injury, Donaldson was telling reporters how hungry he was to win a job out of spring training. He came here to earn a spot in the lineup and I think he can do it. The A’s will give him at least a couple of weeks to see what he can do so that will be one of the main storylines to keep an eye on during March. I will, of course, keep us all updated and if it looks like he isn’t the answer, we can start speculation of whom the A’s will acquire. Until then, I’ll give Donaldson the benefit of the doubt.
Other Spring Notes:
- Brett Anderson seems ahead of schedule with his throwing program coming back from Tommy John Surgery, though no one will admit to it. He’s already thrown a couple of bullpen sessions and says he feels great. He’s also lost 25 pounds. He’s still scheduled to return in August.
- Manny has arrived and is saying and doing all the right things. In his first batting practice, he was launching balls out of the yard all day. But that’s to be expected in BP, I guess.
- If you haven’t read it, Brandon McCarthy is on the cover of ESPN the Magazine. It’s a great article of how advanced statistics saved McCarthy’s baseball career. He was the most underrated pitcher last year and is slated as the A’s opening day starter.
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.