The A’s continued to refine their starting 25-man roster today with a series of moves that will settle a few, but not all of the lingering questions that surround the team’s roster. All of this information comes from Susan Slusser and Rotoworld.
First, the A’s optioned catcher Derek Norris to Sacramento. A key component of the Gio Gonzalez trade, the catcher had a decent spring, hitting .250 in 16 AB’s including a game winning grand slam against the Rangers a few weeks ago. The A’s have a good deal of flexibility at the catcher position currently and so there isn’t much of a reason to rush Norris to the majors. Ryan Ortiz was sent to the team’s minor league camp as well today, so these moves taken with the release of Landon Powell a few weeks back point to the backup catcher position going to Anthony Recker. That is, unless the A’s decide to not give Josh Donaldson the start at third base or attempt to use him in spot duty at both positions. I would hazard to guess that Recker will get the job, with Donaldson getting the first crack at holding down third.
Joining Mr. Ortiz in minor league camp will be former Red Sox/Pirate/Phillies prospect Brandon Moss, who actually had a really good spring hitting at .526/.550/.842 in 19 AB’s with 1 home run and 7 RBI’s. Spring training stats can certainly be deceiving and 19 at-bats is a miniscule sample size, but he damn well made the most of it. There are simply too many outfielders for too few positions. Moss will provide good organizational depth or potentially may have attracted another team who may be interested in his services. Jeff Fiorentino, a 29 year-old journeyman OF, was also relegated to the minor league camp.
So who will actually begin the season in the A’s outfield? Well, Yoenis Cespedes for one, who will play CF in Japan. This move is not that surprising despite Cespedes only batting .150 in 20 AB’s this spring. The A’s need to generate some excitement around the team and he’s probably the man for the job. This also means that Coco Crisp will move over to LF. I would assume that Josh Reddick will begin the season in RF.
The back-end of the A’s rotation has also been up for grabs. Jarrod Parker will not be one of the names penciled in at the beginning of the season and will in fact begin the season in Triple-A. Rotoworld predicts that Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey will get two of the three spots up for grabs. It’s unclear when Dallas Braden will be back, which will determine whether the A’s attempt to roll with a 4-man rotation or instead keep a pitcher like Tommy Milone up to be the 5th starter to begin the season.