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…And Then There Were Thirty-Five

March 21, 2011

I have no idea how I missed this after I put up the game recap(s) but yesterday the A’s had a big cut day. Optioned to the Sacramento River Cats were starting pitchers Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso (officially narrowing a fifth starter field – though both at this point had clearly lost that battle), reliever Trystan Magnuson who did little to impress in the Cactus League, and outfielder Michael Taylor who continues to struggle. Re-assigned to the minor league camp were pitchers Fernando Cabrera (guess he will not be in competition for the final spot) and Yadel Marti (who eliminated himself from contention after throwing BP to the White Sox), catcher Anthony Recker, infielders Grant Green, Steve Tolleson and Jemile Weeks, and outfielders Michael Choice and Jai Miller.

Most of these guys were not surprises, but a few were. Fernando Cabrera had a lights-out spring until his last two appearances, which I didn’t think were as alarming as A’s management seems to have thought. He finished the spring with a 4.32 ERA, and nine strikeouts to just two walks in eight and a third innings of work, earning one loss in the process against Kansas City on March 15th.

Anthony Recker was a little bit of a surprise as why not carry four catchers through the remainder of the Cactus League (they don’t have to now that there are no more split squad games but it still seems like a nice luxury to prevent injuries) and he has hit far better than Landon Powell has.

Tolleson was a bit of a surprise to me as well, the only natural shortstop coming into the mix for the backup infielder role, he struggled mightily at the plate, but all along Bob Geren said this battle was about defense. Tolleson himself was taken a back saying in this Jane Lee article,

“They told me it came down to defense. I’m guessing that’s what they’re basing their decision on. I told [manager Bob Geren], point blank, I feel I played just as good of defense as anyone. I felt like I played solid at three different positions, and they agreed with that. I’ve played shortstop my entire life. I’m very comfortable there. For that reason, I felt I was probably the guy coming into camp, because it’s what I’ve done in the past.”

Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area Newsgroup reports that Eric Sogard has “looked good at shortstop” so he is the presumed favorite to win the backup infielder position though his status on the 40-man roster always gave him an edge. Andy LaRoche is still in the mix so he hasn’t yet been officially crowned.

In other roster news a Stiglich blog post discusses the opening day starter mess, with today’s game against the Dodgers in Glendale being a rainout (I thought the Dodgers never had rainouts?) the whole opening day starter sequence that looked to be lining up for Gio Gonzalez has been changed. Brett Anderson will now pitch tomorrow, meaning he lines up to be the opening day starter. Stiglich reports,

“Geren has been tight-lipped with his plans for the opener but said this morning that he might make an announcement Thursday or Friday. It’s very interesting to ponder because you could make a strong case for either Gonzalez (based on his spring performance) or Anderson (based on his shut-down potential). And Dallas Braden, who started the 2009 opener, is a candidate if the A’s manipulate their days off to give him extra rest. Of the A’s top four pitchers, Trevor Cahill — the 18-game winner from last season — is the one who’s not an option based on the current rotation.”

To me this is much ado about nothing, first off why is Geren even being tight-lipped? I mean I get playoff starting rotations, but this is a 162 game schedule, no team ever lines up 1-vs.-1 and so on all year long. This importance placed on this type of decision is such nonsense. If I were Geren I’d be content that I have four good and plausible pitchers to start find a cap and then draw names. I don’t care who our first starter is, but I also don’t get what Geren is doing holding this information back that is important to a lot of people.

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