Tag Archive for Jerry Blevins

A’s Eager to Deal Prospects to Win Now!

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Billy Beane’s been a busy boy!

A’s general manager Billy Beane has had a busy week – and it ain’t over yet! On Monday, the team signed free agent left-handed starting pitcher Scott Kazmir to a two-year $22 million deal. And later that same day, the A’s acquired right-handed closer Jim Johnson from Baltimore in return for second baseman Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later.

Then on Tuesday, the team traded two of its top minor league prospects, outfielder Michael Choice and second baseman Chris Bostick, to Texas for outfielder Craig Gentry and right-handed starter Josh Lindblom. The A’s then followed that up just hours later by sending outfielder Seth Smith to San Diego for right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson.

Just the previous week, the team dealt minor league outfielder John Wooten to Washington for left-handed reliever Fernando Abad. And two weeks prior to that, the A’s signed utility infielder Nick Punto as a free agent.

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Craig “Kitten Face” Gentry

The A’s new outfielder, Craig Gentry – who was nicknamed “Kitten Face” in Texas – is a right-handed hitting outfielder who can play all three outfield positions. He brings excellent defense and speed and hits lefties well, so he figures to take Chris Young’s place as a right-handed platoon player and fourth outfielder who could take over full time in center field for the A’s when Coco Crisp becomes a free agent after next season.

In order to acquire Gentry, the A’s gave up their top outfield prospect, who also happened to be the team’s top major-league-ready hitting prospect, former 1st-round draft pick Michael Choice. After hitting .302 at Triple-A Sacramento in 2013, many had hoped that Choice would be given the chance to fill Young’s role on the A’s roster in 2014. But instead, he’ll get the chance to battle for a starting spot in the Rangers’ outfield this season.

Top talent evaluators are divided on Choice’s chances for success as a major league slugger. But the A’s have a history of undervaluing and trading away talented young outfielders who’ve gone on to become successful major league hitters elsewhere. And A’s fans have to hope that Choice doesn’t turn out to be the next Andre Ethier, Nelson Cruz or Carlos Gonzalez in Texas.

With Choice now gone, Shane Peterson and Michael Taylor are now the most major-league-ready outfielders at the upper levels of the A’s minor league system, while 20-year-old B.J. Boyd and 19-year-old Billy McKinney are the team’s top outfield prospects at the lower levels of the system.

The A’s also traded away their top second base prospect, Chris Bostick, in the deal. And it looks increasingly likely that shortstop Daniel Robertson might have to try to make the move to second base to provide a future double play partner for top shortstop prospect Addison Russell. With fellow second baseman Jemile Weeks now gone as well, Sacramento’s 2014 infield could be comprised of Daric Barton or Anthony Aliotti at first base, minor league free agent signee Jose Martinez at second base, Andy Parrino at shortstop, Hiro Nakajima at third base and Dusty Coleman as the utility infielder filling in at second, short and third.

Meanwhile, RHP Josh Lindblom is likely to start the season in Sacramento’s starting rotation, along with River Cats returnees Arnold Leon and Andrew Werner as well as recent minor league free agent signees Phil Humber and Matt Buschmann.

Scott Kazmir - the $22 million dollar man

Scott Kazmir – the $22 million dollar man

At the major league level, new acquisitions Scott Kazmir and Jim Johnson are clearly intended to take the place of free agents Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour on the A’s pitching staff. With Kazmir guaranteed $11 million this season, Johnson expected to net $10-11 million in arbitration and seven starting pitchers currently on the staff, the A’s second-highest-paid starter, Brett Anderson at $8 million, is expected to be the A’s most appetizing bit of a trade bait to be dangled at next week’s Winter Meetings. And rumors already have the Blue Jays, Twins, Royals, Yankees, Indians and Mariners licking their lips over the left-hander.

Assuming the A’s are able to complete a deal for Anderson, the team’s 2014 rotation would then be comprised of five of the following six starters: Scott Kazmir, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily and Sonny Gray. Given the general health of starting pitchers, it wouldn’t be surprising if one out of any group of six starters wasn’t 100% healthy to start the season, so I wouldn’t bother spending too much time worrying about which five of the six will end up making the opening day cut – it’ll surely sort itself out by the end of spring.

As far as the A’s bullpen goes, new closer Jim Johnson, who has saved at least 50 games in each of the last two seasons, and new RHP Luke Gregerson, who has been one of the best setup men in the National League over the past couple of years, are set to join LHPs Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins and RHPs Ryan Cook and Jesse Chavez, who is out options and whom the A’s value as a long man and spot starter.

Since the team typically likes to carry seven relievers, there’s room for one more arm in the A’s pen, and RHP Dan Otero is clearly the most deserving candidate for the final spot. But since Fernando Abad, Evan Scribner, Pedro Figueroa and Fernando Rodriguez are all out of options, it’s possible that Otero could start the season being stashed at Sacramento, waiting for someone to hit the DL while one of the others is given a shot.

Over the past week and a half, the A’s farm system has suffered the loss of outfielder Michael Choice, second baseman Jemile Weeks, second baseman Chris Bostick and outfielder John Wooten. And in the last six months, the team lost its 2007 #1 draft pick James Simmons as a minor league free agent and traded away 2008’s #1 pick Jemile Weeks, 2009’s #1 pick Grant Green and 2010’s #1 pick Michael Choice. 2011’s #1 pick Sonny Gray has already made it to the majors, while 2012’s #1 pick Addison Russell should be starting the season at Double-A Midland and 2013’s #1 pick Billy McKinney is expected to start the year at Class-A Beloit.

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Brett Anderson – next up on the trading block?

As previously mentioned, LHP Brett Anderson is the most likely member of the A’s roster to be the next one to find himself on Billy Beane’s trading block, with infielder Alberto Callaspo not far behind. With six other starters on the staff, a long injury history and an $8 million salary attached to his name, Anderson is clearly expendable. And with a salary close to $5 million and no definite spot in the A’s lineup, Callaspo seems to just be taking up roster and salary space at this point.

Outfielders Seth Smith, Chris Young and Michael Choice have all recently departed, with Craig Gentry being the only outfielder the A’s have acquired to take their place. So it certainly seems like there could be room for one more big OF/DH bat to be added to the A’s lineup to help boost the team’s offensive output, possibly as the result of an Anderson deal.

It’s also been reported that the A’s have been inquiring about middle infielders and catchers in trade talks for Anderson. So the team could be looking for a second baseman to take the place of Eric Sogard, or a shortstop who would then enable Jed Lowrie to make the move to second, or possibly a catcher who would allow John Jaso to take over for Seth Smith in the designated hitter role.

The A’s major league roster currently shapes up with Jaso and Norris as the catching platoon, Donaldson, Lowrie, Sogard, Punto, Moss and Freiman serving around the infield, and Cespedes, Crisp, Reddick and Gentry making up the outfield. Since the team typically likes to carry thirteen position players, that leaves one last roster spot open. At this point, it would most likely be filled by Callaspo. But if he ends up being traded, then it would be Barton, unless, of course, the A’s acquire another big bat who would end up pushing Barton back to Sacramento.

With all the current question marks, one thing seems certain – Beane and company aren’t done dealing just yet, and the A’s roster is far from set. There are surely more changes to come. But for the time being, here’s how things are shaping up for the 2014 A’s and River Cats, assuming everyone who’s out of options can clear waivers.

Click here to see the possible 2014 A’s and River Cats rosters…

A’s, River Cats’ & RockHounds’ Roster Projections

Will Hiro have to be a hero in Sacramento?

Will Hiro still be smiling in Sacramento?

We’re now less than a week away from opening day, and Jemile Weeks has been optioned to Sacramento, Adam Rosales has been placed on the disabled list, and Hiro Nakajima has been struggling and is now dealing with a strained hamstring. And thanks to these recent developments, it looks like the A’s opening day roster may now be rounding into shape – and along with it, the Sacramento River Cats’ and Midland RockHounds’ rosters too. Of course, plenty can still change and nothing is etched in stone. There haven’t been any official announcements from the team yet and there probably won’t be until about 24 hours before opening day, but below are our projected opening day rosters for the A’s and their Triple-A and Double-A affiliates based on what we think we know at this point…

 

PROJECTED 2013 OAKLAND A’S ROSTER

Derek Norris

Derek Norris

–CATCHERS–

John Jaso C

Derek Norris C

–INFIELDERS–

Brandon Moss 1B

Nate Freiman 1B

Eric Sogard 2B

Scott Sizemore 2B

Jed Lowrie SS

Josh Donaldson 3B

–OUTFIELDERS–

Yoenis Cespedes OF

Coco Crisp OF

Josh Reddick OF

Chris Young OF

Seth Smith OF

Brett Anderson

Brett Anderson

–STARTING PITCHERS–

Brett Anderson LHP

Jarrod Parker RHP

Tommy Milone LHP

A.J. Griffin RHP

Dan Straily RHP

–RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Grant Balfour RHP

Ryan Cook RHP

Pat Neshek RHP

Chris Resop RHP

–LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Sean Doolittle LHP

Jerry Blevins LHP

Travis Blackley LHP

 

(Bartolo Colon – SUSPENDED)

(Fernando Rodriguez – DL)

(Adam Rosales – DL)

 

PROJECTED 2013 SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS ROSTER

Michael Choice

Michael Choice

–HITTERS–

Luke Montz C

David Freitas C

Hiro Nakajima SS

Jemile Weeks 2B

Andy Parrino SS-3B-OF

Grant Green 2B-3B-OF

Josh Horton 3B-SS-2B

Scott Moore 1B-3B-DH

Shane Peterson OF-1B

Conner Crumbliss OF-2B

Michael Choice OF

Michael Taylor OF

Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray

–STARTING PITCHERS–

Sonny Gray RHP

Andrew Werner LHP

Jesse Chavez RHP

Bruce Billings RHP

Travis Banwart RHP

–RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Evan Scribner RHP

Mike Ekstrom RHP

James Simmons RHP

Arnold Leon RHP

–LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Hideki Okajima LHP

Jordan Norberto LHP

Pedro Figueroa LHP

Justin Thomas LHP

 

PROJECTED 2013 MIDLAND ROCKHOUNDS ROSTER

Miles Head

Miles Head

–HITTERS–

Beau Taylor C

Ryan Ortiz C

Anthony Aliotti 1B-DH

Tommy Mendonca 3B-DH

Miles Head 3B-1B

Jefry Marte 3B-1B

Dusty Coleman SS

Darwin Perez 2B-SS

Tyler Ladendorf 2B-SS-OF

Jeremy Barfield OF

Chad Oberacker OF

D’Arby Myers OF

Sean Murphy

Sean Murphy

–STARTING PITCHERS–

Carlos Hernandez LHP

Murphy Smith RHP

Josh Bowman RHP

Sean Murphy RHP

Jacob Brown LHP

–RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Brian Gordon RHP

Carlos Fisher RHP

Kyler Newby RHP

Darren Byrd RHP

Paul Smyth RHP

Nate Long RHP

Sergio Perez RHP

–LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Frank Gailey LHP

 

***UPDATE: In something of a surprise, the A’s have designated LHP Travis Blackley for assignment. This opens a spot in the A’s bullpen for either Evan Scribner, Pedro Figueroa, Mike Ekstrom or Hideki Okajima. Their spot in the River Cats bullpen will be filled by RHP Danny Otero, who was claimed off waivers.

 

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A’s Swap Spare Parts For Second Shortstop!

Jed Lowrie: From worst to first?

Jed Lowrie: From worst to first?

As we pointed out in our analysis of the John Jaso trade just recently, the A’s are clearly in “WIN NOW” mode. And the team made another “WIN NOW” move on Monday, dealing part-time first baseman Chris Carter, minor league pitcher Brad Peacock and minor league catcher Max Stassi to the Houston Astros for infielder Jed Lowrie and right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez.

Lowrie is a 28-year-old former 1st-round draft pick out of Stanford. The switch-hitter hit a career-high 16 home runs in 340 at-bats with the Astros last season. He’s played primarily at shortstop in his 5-year major league career but has also spent time at third, second and first, and his versatility provides the A’s with added depth at every infield position.

Rodriguez is a hard-throwing right-handed reliever who has some control issues but who also managed to strike out an average of 10 batters per 9 innings last year. The 28-year-old has a tendency to give up the long ball and posted an ERA of 5.37 in 70 1/3 innings with the Astros last season. Rodriguez will likely have to battle with Pat Neshek and Chris Resop for a spot on the right side of the A’s bullpen.

To acquire the pair, the A’s parted with three players who’ve all spent far more time in the minors than the majors: Max Stassi, the most highly rated catching prospect in the system who has been praised for his abilities behind the plate but who has also been hampered by injuries and has yet to progress beyond A ball; Brad Peacock, who was slated to be one of the top starters at Sacramento this season but who had his ups and downs last year and ended up posting a 6.01 ERA with the River Cats; and Chris Carter, who was supposed to be the right-handed half of the A’s first base platoon this year. Carter, the only one of the three who was expected to start the year on the major league roster, had formerly been a top prospect but, despite his strong power numbers in the second half last year, his September struggles strengthened the A’s doubts about his potential for long-term success.

Fernando Rodriguez: International Man Of Mystery

Fernando Rodriguez: International Man Of Mystery

About coming to A’s, the Stanford alum Lowrie was quoted as saying, “I’m excited to come to a team that won one of the better divisions in baseball last year. I’m excited to have an opportunity to come back and play baseball in the Bay Area.” He graciously neglected to mention the fact that he’s also undoubtedly excited not to be playing for the Astros, who will likely be bringing up the rear in their new division this year.

With Lowrie’s addition, the A’s infield situation suddenly becomes a bit murkier. Lowrie has played short, second, third and first. Scott Sizemore has played second and third. Hiro Nakajima can play short, and possibly even second. And then there’s also Jemile Weeks, who can play second, and Josh Donaldson, who can play third.

Being a switch-hitter, of course, only increases Lowrie’s versatility. But his left/right splits are somewhat curious. For his career, he has an OPS that’s .154 points better against lefties. But last year, he had an OPS that was .196 points better against righties. Lowrie claims that his previous struggles as a left-handed hitter were primarily related to lingering injuries, and his minor league splits do lend some credence to that claim. But it would be nice to see his splits even out a bit given the fact that he’s likely to be seeing plenty of action against both righties and lefties for the A’s this season.

But how exactly will the A’s use Lowrie this year? Well, they’ve certainly got plenty of options. But in a conference call with reporters, A’s general manager Billy Beane said that he and manager Bob Melvin had discussed their options and that they view Japanese import Hiro Nakajima as their shortstop. Beane also mentioned that he could see Lowrie as a nice right-handed complement to Brandon Moss at first base, much like Chris Carter had been.

Chris Carter: The object of the Astros' affections

Chris Carter: The object of the Astros’ affections

If we take Beane’s comments to heart, that then raises the question of where Lowrie would play against right-handers. The most obvious answer would be at second base, where there’s already a great deal of uncertainty, and where the top two current candidates, Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks, have both performed better against lefties than righties in recent times – Sizemore, who seems to be the favored candidate, even more so, which could make him a perfect platoon partner with Lowrie at second base.

Lowrie could also be available to back up both Nakajima at shortstop and Donaldson at third base if either struggles or just needs some time off. Of course, if Nakajima, whose defensive ability at shortstop is still a big question mark, spends much of the spring butchering balls at short, Lowrie could always take over the spot full-time and push Nakajima into duty at second. But wherever he plays, as long as he’s healthy – and that’s been something of an issue in the past – it looks like Lowrie will be in the lineup. So he should end up getting into a lot more games for the A’s than Chris Carter would have this year, which ought to make him a productive addition to the major league roster.

One of the biggest winners in this trade could turn out to be the A’s former first baseman Daric Barton, who now stands a decent chance of making the roster as the only true first baseman on the squad. Moss and Lowrie only have a combined 68 major league games at first base between them, and teams often like to have a little defensive certainty on the roster. Before this trade, Barton’s chances of landing a roster spot rested on something happening to either Moss or Carter – and now something has most definitely happened to Carter. Of course, it’s possible that Barton still doesn’t make the roster, but it’s certainly a whole lot more likely that he does now.

Brad Peacock:

Brad Peacock: Now standing tall for the last-place Astros

On the other side of the coin, one of the biggest losers in this deal could be infielder Adam Rosales. With his guaranteed contract and major league experience, Rosales was the favorite to land the utility infielder role. But now – with Lowrie, Nakajima, Donaldson and either Weeks or Sizemore likely to make the roster – the A’s will have at least two available options at each infield position, making another spare infielder somewhat redundant. Both Weeks and Sizemore could both be losers in this deal too since whoever wins a roster spot will undoubtedly have his at-bats at second base reduced by Lowrie’s arrival. The deal doesn’t do anything to help Eric Sogard’s and Grant Green’s prospects either as it just pushes both of them further down the infield depth chart.

As far as position players on the major league roster go, this deal might just boil down to Lowrie and Barton replacing Carter and Rosales on the A’s 2013 roster. As far as the pitching end of things goes, Beane clearly likes Rodriguez, referring to him as “a real big arm” and saying that he was a key to getting the deal done. But the hard-throwing righty will have to compete for a roster spot with fellow right-handers Pat Neshek and Chris Resop in an already crowded A’s bullpen that’s also likely to include right-handers Grant Balfour and Ryan Cook along with left-handers Sean Doolittle, Jerry Blevins and Travis Blackley – with guys like Jordan Norberto, Pedro Figueroa, Evan Scribner, Arnold Leon and James Simmons waiting in the wings.

Max Stassi: Taking 'the tools of ignorance' to Houston

Max Stassi: Taking the ‘tools of ignorance’ to Houston

Another beneficiary of the deal could be former 1st-round draft pick Sonny Gray, who will no longer have to compete for attention with fellow prospect Brad Peacock at Sacramento this season. If he pitches well at Triple-A this year, the odds of Gray getting the opportunity to see some time in Oakland before the season’s through have just greatly increased with Peacock out of the equation.

Vying for time with Gray in the River Cats rotation this year will be last year’s phenom Dan Straily, new acquisition Andrew Werner, veteran lefty Garrett Olson, and long-time minor leaguers Jesse Chavez, Bruce Billings and Travis Banwart. It’s my guess that Straily will end up in the major league rotation before long, like most 6th starters do, due to injury, and Banwart will start the season in the Sacramento bullpen, leaving the River Cats with a rotation of Gray, Werner, Olson, Chavez and Billings.

But this deal clearly wasn’t about the minor league roster; it was all about the major league roster – increasing the A’s infield depth and versatility and having a solid backup plan in place just in case Nakajima doesn’t pan out at short, Donaldson regresses at third, or nothing else works out at second. It’s clearly a “WIN NOW” move, just like it was with the Jaso deal. Peacock, Cole and Treinen represent a lot of young arms to give up – not to mention Carter and Stassi – in the two deals. But the A’s focus is clearly on winning now while the window of contention is open. And Beane admitted as much in his conference call with reporters, saying “Given where the club finished last year and where we see it having a chance to compete this year, we wanted to do everything we could to help ourselves right now.”

And for the A’s, the future is clearly NOW!

 

 

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Is the A’s Roster Set? And the River Cats Roster Too?

Will Hiro have A's fans smiling too?

Will Hiro have A’s fans smiling too?

On Monday, we unofficially learned that shortstop Stephen Drew had agreed to a deal with the Red Sox and would not be returning to the A’s, and we also unofficially learned that the A’s would be filling the hole at shortstop by signing Japanese import Hiroyuki Nakajima. It was announced on Tuesday, after our last A’s Off-Season Transactions Update, not only that the Nakajima signing was official but also that, to clear room on the roster for their new shortstop, the A’s had traded outfielder Collin Cowgill to the Mets for Double-A third baseman Jefry Marte.

With the A’s new shortstop in the fold, it looks like their work is essentially done for the off-season and that the major league roster, barring any unforeseen (yet inevitable) injuries, is pretty much set. But it also seems that the Triple-A roster at Sacramento may be pretty much set at this point too. This really shows a remarkable level of certainty for an organization that’s typically had any number of question marks remaining at this time of year.

Below you’ll find a complete listing of the anticipated A’s and River Cats opening day rosters, barring any unexpected deals or injuries, as of this point in time almost 3 ½ months before opening day. Any changes should be minor, especially where the major league roster is concerned. I’d expect any changes to most likely come from potential moves involving some of the minor league pitchers or infielders. Following the roster lists below, we’ll go around the horn and discuss where things stand at every position for both the A’s and the River Cats…

 

Brandon Moss

Brandon Moss

2013 OAKLAND A’S

–CATCHERS–

Derek Norris C

George Kottaras C

–INFIELDERS–

Brandon Moss 1B

Chris Carter 1B

Jemile Weeks 2B

Hiroyuki Nakajima SS

Josh Donaldson 3B

Adam Rosales IF 

Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

–OUTFIELDERS–

Yoenis Cespedes OF

Josh Reddick OF

Coco Crisp OF

Seth Smith OF

Chris Young OF

–STARTING PITCHERS–

Brett Anderson LHP

Jarrod Parker RHP

Tom Milone LHP

A.J. Griffin RHP

Dan Straily RHP

Grant Balfour

Grant Balfour

–RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Grant Balfour RHP

Ryan Cook RHP

Pat Neshek RHP

Chris Resop RHP

–LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Sean Doolittle LHP

Jerry Blevins LHP

Travis Blackley LHP

–SUSPENDED FOR 5 GAMES–

Bartolo Colon

 

2013 SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS

Michael Choice

Michael Choice

–HITTERS–

Luke Montz C

Steven Hill C

Daric Barton IF

Scott Sizemore IF

Andy Parrino IF

Eric Sogard IF

Stephen Parker IF

Scott Moore IF-OF

Grant Green IF-OF

Shane Peterson OF

Michael Choice OF

Michael Taylor OF

–STARTING PITCHERS–

Brad Peacock RHP

Sonny Gray RHP

Andrew Werner LHP

(+2 of the following 4 in the rotation with 1 in the bullpen & 1 traded or released)

Garrett Olson LHP

Jesse Chavez RHP

Bruce Billings RHP

Travis Banwart RHP

James Simmons

James Simmons

–RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Evan Scribner RHP

Arnold Leon RHP

James Simmons RHP

Mike Ekstrom RHP

–LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS–

Jordan Norberto LHP

Pedro Figueroa LHP

Justin Thomas LHP

 

2013 OAKLAND A’S

Derek Norris: Catcher of the future or lumberjack in training?

Derek Norris: Catcher of the future or lumberjack in training?

As far as the 2013 A’s go, catcher and first base are two positions that are pretty clearly set. Right-handed hitter Derek Norris and left-handed hitter George Kottaras will make up the A’s catching tandem. This likely won’t be a strict platoon though, as the A’s view Norris as their catcher of the future. I’d expect Norris to get between 350-400 at-bats, with Kottaras getting somewhere between 200-250 at-bats – of course, performance on the field could have a big effect on playing time behind the plate. The first base platoon of Brandon Moss and Chris Carter will remain in place in 2013. This should be a pretty strict left/right platoon, unless Moss regresses and Carter starts coming on strong, in which case the big right-hander could end up stealing some at-bats from Moss.

Second base may represent the biggest question mark on the A’s roster. Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore both stand a decent chance of claiming the starting job, while prospect Grant Green appears to be a long shot. It’s my feeling that, as long as he can show in the spring that he’s ready to put it together, the edge will go to former #1 draft pick Weeks. But if Weeks looks like he hasn’t learned anything, then Sizemore should be ready to step in – though we do have to remember that he is coming back from an injury that sidelined him for a solid year and will be competing at a position that he hasn’t played much over the past two years. Whichever one of these guys doesn’t claim the major league job will probably end up at Sacramento with Green. At this point, my guess is that Weeks opens the season with the A’s, while Sizemore ends up at Sacramento waiting for a chance to come back and take over in the event that Weeks or Donaldson struggles – but that could very easily change based on what happens in the spring.

Your 2013 starting shortstop will be Hiro Nakajima, with Adam Rosales likely serving as his backup – as well as the backup at second at third. If Nakajima proves to be more of a “zero” than a “Hiro,” then Rosales will step in and start getting more at-bats at short. Josh Donaldson will be the starting third baseman unless and until he proves that his second-half surge last season was just a fluke. If that happens, then Sizemore is the most likely candidate to step in at third.

Josh Reddick: The undisputed champion of the "Bernie Lean" dance competition

Josh Reddick: The undisputed champion of the ‘Bernie Lean’ dance competition

In the outfield, the A’s have five players (Cespedes, Reddick, Crisp, Smith and Young) to fill the three outfield spots as well as the designated hitter spot in the lineup. Those four positions should offer up about 2400 at-bats, which would mean there’s close to 500 at-bats to go around for each of them – that’s if they’re all healthy. Of course, they won’t all be healthy. I’d guess that at just about any point in the season, one of them will be dinged up enough to, if not warrant a stint on the DL, at least warrant a little time out of the lineup. So I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about who plays where and when. I suspect it’ll work itself out one way or another and we’ll end up seeing plenty of all of them in the starting lineup.

As for the starting rotation, it’s important to remember that Bartolo Colon will be suspended for the first five games of the season and the A’s will play the first seven games of the season without a day off. That means that, barring injury, Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily will open the season as the A’s starting five. Of course, there’s a reasonable chance that one of those pitchers could have some nagging injury to start the season. In that case, Colon could be ready to step into the rotation after the first week. If, miracle of miracles, all five starting pitchers are fully healthy and functioning to start the season, then Colon could always kill time in the bullpen until one of them is sidelined with a balky elbow, shoulder, rib cage or back.

The A’s bullpen will be a crowded place though. Aside from Colon, there will be nine or ten legitimate contenders for the seven bullpen spots. On the right-handed side of things, Grant Balfour will be the closer and Ryan Cook will be the primary right-handed set-up man, while Pat Neshek will surely have a spot after signing a guaranteed contract, and Chris Resop is bound to get a spot after the A’s made a concerted effort to acquire him from the Pirates. That would push Evan Scribner to Sacramento.

On the left-handed side of things, Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins appear to be assured spots after their consistent performances throughout 2012, and Travis Blackley seems to be locked in as the long-man in the ‘pen. That would push Jordan Norberto and Pedro Figueroa to Sacramento. Of course, the odds that one of those seven relievers starts the season with some kind of injury is fairly high, which would open the door to one of those spots.

 

Daric Barton: Don't worry, A's fans - only in case of emergency!

Daric Barton: Don’t worry, A’s fans – only in case of emergency!

2013 SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS

If we make the preceding assumptions about the major league roster, and take into account the fact that the Triple-A roster rarely includes more than 12 hitters and rarely has any fewer than 13 pitchers, then the River Cats roster starts to fall pretty clearly into place.

The A’s acquired two experienced minor league catchers – 29-year-old Luke Montz and 27-year-old Steven Hill – who should share the catching duties at Sacramento this year. Meanwhile, veteran Daric Barton will be standing in at first base, waiting for his chance should anything happen with Moss or Carter.

If Jemile Weeks doesn’t make the roster in Oakland, then he’ll surely be the starting second baseman at Sacramento. But if Scott Sizemore is the one to get sent down, as I suspect, then I’d expect him to get the majority of the starts at second base in Sacramento, preparing himself in case Weeks again struggles. Andy Parrino, who was acquired from San Diego in the Tyson Ross trade, is bound to be Sacramento’s primary starting shortstop this year. I’d expect to see the versatile Eric Sogard getting most of his starts at third base this year, while also picking up a few other starts around the infield. When Sogard’s not starting at third, then fading prospect Stephen Parker is likely to get some starts at the hot corner as well.

Grant Green: Still looking for a home

Grant Green: Still looking for a home

Scott Moore, who has been the A’s most promising minor league free agent signing this off-season, can play third base, as well as first base, second base and the outfield, but will probably end up seeing a lot of at-bats as the designated hitter for the River Cats. Sacramento’s starting outfield should be made up of on-base machine Shane Peterson in left, top prospect Michael Choice in center and former top prospect Michael Taylor in right. That just leaves our old friend Grant Green, whom the organization could make the River Cats’ regular second baseman, but I’m guessing that, when it’s all said and done, they’ll end up utilizing his versatility and giving him starts all over the field – preparing him for his most likely future role with the A’s as a versatile utility man.

There are three pitchers who, as long as they’re healthy, are sure to make Sacramento’s starting rotation – top prospects Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray, along with left-hander Andrew Werner, who was acquired from San Diego in the Tyson Ross deal. The rest of the River Cats’ rotation will be filled out by two of the following four hurlers – right-handers Jesse Chavez, Bruce Billings and Travis Banwart, as well as major league veteran and minor league free agent signee Garrett Olson. Of the two who don’t make the rotation, one will likely end up as the long-man in the River Cats’ bullpen with the other either DL’d, traded or released.

Sacramento’s 2013 bullpen ought to boast an impressive array of arms who could be ready to step in and help at the major league level at a moment’s notice. If all the major league bullpen arms are healthy, then the River Cats’ ‘pen should include names like Evan Scribner, Arnold Leon, James Simmons and minor league free agent signee Mike Ekstrom from the right side and Jordan Norberto, Pedro Figueroa and minor league free agent signee Justin Thomas from the left side.

On the whole, it looks like a River Cats roster that ought to be more than ready to defend its division title and, hopefully, so should the 2013 A’s!

 

*     *     *

 

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A’s Major & Minor League Off-Season Transactions – Dec. 18 Update: A’s Find A Hiro To Play SS

Hiro

Hiro: Better than Godzilla?

Well, the biggest story to break for A’s fans in the weeks before the holidays was the news that A’s free agent shortstop Stephen Drew had agreed to a $9.5 million/1-year deal with the Red Sox, followed quickly by the news that Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima had agreed to a $6.5 million/2-year deal (plus incentives and a $5.5 million 1-year option) with the A’s. The 30-year-old right-handed hitter has a career .310/.381/.474 slash line plus 104 home runs and 97 stolen bases over the last 6 seasons in Japan. His signing seems to settle the A’s starting shortstop question and makes arbitration-eligible Adam Rosales the likely backup at the position.

A’s free agent pitcher Brandon McCarthy also decided to leave the team for a $15.5 million/2-year deal with Arizona. It doesn’t look like the A’s are planning on signing a major league pitcher to replace McCarthy, but will instead count on a full season of availability from major-league ready RHP Dan Straily to make up for McCarthy’s loss.

On the minor league front, since our last update, the A’s traded RHP Graham Godfrey to the Red Sox as the player to be named in the deal to acquire RHP Sandy Rosario, who was later designated for assignment by the A’s and re-claimed by the Red Sox who then designated him for assignment again. So the A’s basically gave Godfrey to the Red Sox for the privilege of having Rosario on the roster for a few days. Minor league outfielder Jermaine Mitchell, who cleared waivers and elected free agency, ended up signing a minor league deal with the Phillies.

The most significant minor league addition the A’s made since our last update was the acquisition of 27-year-old minor league free agent catcher/first baseman Steven Hill, who’s played in 10 major league games for the Cardinals and spent most of last season at Triple-A Memphis, where he had a .266/.326/.488 slash line. The right-handed hitter figures to share the catching duties at Sacramento in 2013 with fellow minor league free agent signee Luke Montz.

You’ll find all new transactions since our last update noted below with italics and an asterisk. Any players who’ve recently been taking up space on the 40-man roster are listed below under Major League transactions, while all other players are listed under Minor League transactions. For all the minor league players, I’ve listed their primary positions as well as the level they spent the most time at in 2012. Just click on any player’s name to see their Baseball-Reference stats page…

 

MAJOR LEAGUE CHANGES

-Jonny Gomes OF / +Chris Young OF

-Pennington/Drew SS / +Hiroyuki Nakajima SS *

-Brandon Hicks IF / +Andy Parrino IF

-Brandon McCarthy RHP / +NONE *

-Jim Miller RHP / +Chris Resop RHP

-Tyson Ross RHP / +Andrew Werner LHP

 

Hiroyuki Nakajima

Hiroyuki Nakajima

+ MAJOR LEAGUE ADDITIONS

Chris Young OF (traded from AZ)

Hiroyuki Nakajima SS (signed from Japan) *

Andy Parrino IF (traded from SD)

Chris Resop RHP (traded from PITT)

Andrew Werner LHP (traded from SD)

 

- MAJOR LEAGUE SUBTRACTIONS

Jonny Gomes OF (FA signed with BOS)

Stephen Drew SS (FA signed with BOS) *

Cliff Pennington SS (traded to AZ)

Brandon Hicks IF (traded to NYM)

Brandon McCarthy RHP (FA signed with AZ) *

Jim Miller RHP (claimed by NYY)

Tyson Ross RHP (traded to SD)

 

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

+ MINOR LEAGUE ADDITIONS

Scott Moore 3B-1B AAA (minor league FA)

Luke Montz C-1B AAA (minor league FA)

Steven Hill C-1B AAA (minor league Rule 5 draftee) *

Tom Mendonca 3B AA (minor league rule 5 draftee) *

Darwin Perez SS-2B AA (minor league FA)

D’Arby Myers OF AA (minor league FA) *

Garrett Olson LHP AAA (minor league FA)

Justin Thomas LHP AAA (minor league FA)

Mike Ekstrom RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Kyler Newby RHP AA (minor league FA)

Yeiper Castillo RHP A (minor league FA) *

 

Jermaine Mitchell

Jermaine Mitchell

- MINOR LEAGUE SUBTRACTIONS

Kila Ka’aihue 1B AAA (minor league FA signed with AZ)

Jermaine Mitchell OF AAA (minor league FA signed with PHI) *

Blake Lalli C AAA (minor league FA signed with MIL)

Jason Jaramillo C AAA (minor league FA)

Wes Timmons IF AAA (minor league FA)

Matt Rizzotti 1B AA (minor league FA)

Leonardo Gil 3B AA (minor league FA)

A.J. Kirby-Jones 1B A (traded to SD)

Yordy Cabrera SS A (traded to MIA)

Michael Gilmartin SS-2B A (minor league Rule 5 draftee by CIN) *

Eliezer Mesa OF A (minor league Rule 5 draftee by DET) *

Graham Godfrey RHP AAA (traded to BOS) *

Rich Thompson RHP AAA (minor league FA signed with TOR) *

Jeremy Accardo RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Merkin Valdez RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Justin Souza RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Fabio Castro LHP AA (minor league FA)

Beau Jones LHP AA (minor league FA)

Matt McSwain RHP AA (minor league FA)

Jonathan Ortiz RHP AA (minor league FA)

Jose Guzman RHP AA (minor league FA)

Zach Thornton RHP A (traded to PITT)

 

Adam Rosales

Adam Rosales

RETURNING FREE AGENTS/ARB ELIGIBLES/OPTIONS

Daric Barton 1B (Arb Eligible Re-Signed)

Adam Rosales IF (Arb Eligible Re-Signed)

Pat Neshek RHP (Arb Eligible Re-Signed)

Bartolo Colon RHP (Free Agent Re-Signed)

Grant Balfour RHP (Option Renewed)

 

RETURNING ARB ELIGIBLES

Seth Smith OF (Arb Eligible)

Brandon Moss 1B (Arb Eligible)

George Kottaras C (Arb Eligible)

Jerry Blevins LHP (Arb Eligible)

Chris Resop RHP (Arb Eligible)

 

UNSIGNED MLB FREE AGENTS

Brandon Inge 3B (MLB Free Agent)

Dallas Braden LHP (MLB Free Agent)

Joey Devine RHP (MLB Free Agent)

 

COMING & GOING

Sandy Rosario RHP (traded from BOS – designated for assignment)

 

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm to keep up with all the news down on the farm!

A’s Major & Minor League Off-Season Transactions – Dec. 1 Update

Jonny Gomes - All dressed up, with somewhere to go

Jonny Gomes: All dressed up, with somewhere to go.

With a flurry of activity on Friday just ahead of Major League Baseball’s non-tender deadline and with the Winter Meetings starting on Monday in Nashville, it seems like a good time to recap all the A’s major and minor league transactions from the end of the season through the non-tender deadline of November 30th. The most significant changes to affect the major league roster so far this off-season have been Jonny Gomes signing with Boston, the Chris Young/Cliff Pennington trade with Arizona, as well as the Tyson Ross trade with San Diego. These deals, along with a few other minor moves, have basically resulted in Chris Young replacing Jonny Gomes in the lineup and Chris Resop replacing Jim Miller in the bullpen, with Andy Parrino replacing Brandon Hicks and Andrew Werner replacing Tyson Ross as guys who’ll probably end up spending most of their time at Sacramento while filling in in Oakland as needed.

The biggest remaining question mark for the A’s is who will replace Cliff Pennington and Stephen Drew as the team’s starting shortstop in 2013. The two combined to start 129 games at shortstop for the A’s in 2012. Right now, with Pennington having been traded to Arizona and Drew a free agent, the position’s a bit of a black hole. But the assumption is that the A’s will either make a deal for a shortstop (possibly at the Winter Meetings), sign one on the free agent market (Marco Scutaro, Ronny Cedeno, Cesar Izturis, Jason Bartlett, Alex Gonzalez), or possibly even re-sign Drew if the market for him doesn’t end up getting too hot.

Of course, the team has already picked up closer Grant Balfour’s option, re-signed free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon, and re-signed arbitration eligible players Pat Neshek, Adam Rosales and Daric Barton. For those about to panic, don’t worry, Barton’s contract is not guaranteed, so he can be cut anytime and the A’s won’t owe him another dime. As of Friday night, there was no official word as to whether or not the team had offered contracts to their five remaining arbitration eligible players – outfielder Seth Smith, first baseman Brandon Moss, catcher George Kottaras, left-hander Jerry Blevins and recently-acquired right-hander Chris Resop – but the assumption is that no news is good news and the fact that we didn’t hear anything probably means that the A’s made offers to all these players and thus will retain the rights to them all.

Brandon McCarthy - To leave or not to leave, that is the question

Brandon McCarthy: To leave or not to leave, that is the question.

Of the team’s five remaining major league free agents, two – third baseman Brandon Inge and right-hander Joey Devine – can be expected to move on, while the jury is still out on the remaining three. As mentioned, shortstop Stephen Drew could return if he doesn’t find too many other tempting offers out there. There seems to be some mutual interest in a return engagement for Brandon McCarthy, but other teams are said to be sniffing around the right-hander as well. Oft-injured left-hander Dallas Braden is also on the market, and it’s possible that the northern California boy could sign an incentive-laden deal to stick around the old neighborhood.

As for the A’s minor league transactions, the most significant loss has probably been the signing of minor league free agent first baseman Kila Ka’aihue by Arizona. The most significant minor league addition by the A’s so far has probably been the signing of third baseman/first baseman Scott Moore who signed a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. The left-handed hitter made it into 72 games with the Astros in 2012, playing mainly at third base and first base, but he also got in some time at second base and in the outfield. The A’s are likely to make many more minor league signings as the off-season unfolds, though re-signing any of their own remaining minor league free agents is probably unlikely.

Any players who’ve recently been taking up space on the 40-man roster are listed below under Major League transactions, while all other players are listed under Minor League transactions. For all the minor league players, I’ve listed their primary positions as well as the level they spent the most time at in 2012. Just click on any player’s name to see their Baseball-Reference stats page…

 

Cliff Pennington

Cliff Pennington

MAJOR LEAGUE CHANGES

-Jonny Gomes OF / +Chris Young OF

-Cliff Pennington SS / +TBD SS

-Brandon Hicks IF / +Andy Parrino IF

-Jim Miller RHP / +Chris Resop RHP

-Tyson Ross RHP / +Andrew Werner LHP

 

Chris Young

Chris Young

+ MAJOR LEAGUE ADDITIONS

Chris Young OF (traded from AZ)

Andy Parrino IF (traded from SD)

Chris Resop RHP (traded from PITT)

Andrew Werner LHP (traded from SD)

 

- MAJOR LEAGUE SUBTRACTIONS

Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes OF (FA signed with BOS)

Cliff Pennington SS (traded to AZ)

Brandon Hicks IF (traded to NYM)

Jim Miller RHP (claimed by NYY)

Tyson Ross RHP (traded to SD)

 

+ MINOR LEAGUE ADDITIONS

Scott Moore

Scott Moore

Scott Moore 3B-1B AAA (minor league FA)

Luke Montz C-1B AAA (minor league FA)

Darwin Perez SS-2B AA (minor league FA)

Garrett Olson LHP AAA (minor league FA)

Justin Thomas LHP AAA (minor league FA)

Mike Ekstrom RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Kyler Newby RHP AA (minor league FA)

 

- MINOR LEAGUE SUBTRACTIONS

Kila Ka'aihue

Kila Ka’aihue

Kila Ka’aihue 1B AAA (minor league FA signed with AZ)

Jermaine Mitchell OF AAA (minor league FA)

Wes Timmons IF AAA (minor league FA)

Jason Jaramillo C AAA (minor league FA)

Blake Lalli C AAA (minor league FA signed with MIL)

Matt Rizzotti 1B AA (minor league FA)

Leonardo Gil 3B AA (minor league FA)

A.J. Kirby-Jones 1B A (traded to SD)

Yordy Cabrera SS A (traded to MIA)

Yordy Cabrera

Yordy Cabrera

Jeremy Accardo RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Rich Thompson RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Merkin Valdez RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Justin Souza RHP AAA (minor league FA)

Fabio Castro LHP AA (minor league FA)

Beau Jones LHP AA (minor league FA)

Matt McSwain RHP AA (minor league FA)

Jonathan Ortiz RHP AA (minor league FA)

Jose Guzman RHP AA (minor league FA)

Zach Thornton RHP A (traded to PITT)

Grant Balfour

Grant Balfour

 

RETURNING FREE AGENTS/ARB ELIGIBLES/OPTIONS

Daric Barton 1B (Arb Eligible Re-Signed)

Adam Rosales IF (Arb Eligible Re-Signed)

Pat Neshek RHP (Arb Eligible Re-Signed)

Bartolo Colon RHP (Free Agent Re-Signed)

Grant Balfour RHP (Option Renewed)

 

Seth Smith

Seth Smith

LIKELY RETURNING ARB ELIGIBLES

Seth Smith OF (Arb Eligible)

Brandon Moss 1B (Arb Eligible)

George Kottaras C (Arb Eligible)

Jerry Blevins LHP (Arb Eligible)

Chris Resop RHP (Arb Eligible)

 

UNSIGNED MLB FREE AGENTS

Stephen Drew

Stephen Drew

Stephen Drew SS (MLB Free Agent)

Brandon Inge 3B (MLB Free Agent)

Brandon McCarthy RHP (MLB Free Agent)

Dallas Braden LHP (MLB Free Agent)

Joey Devine RHP (MLB Free Agent)

 

COMING & GOING

Sandy Rosario RHP (traded from BOS – designated for assignment)

 

Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm to keep up with all the news down on the farm!