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Imagining a Bradenless Future

April 17, 2011

The news regarding Dallas Braden does not appear as if it will be good. But he is expected to see a doctor tomorrow regarding the stiffness in his shoulder that took him out of Saturday’s game after only throwing five frames of work – so we should know its severity by then. But thus far these are the less than encouraging quotes we have out of Dallas himself.

To Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News:

“Still sore, stiff, hurts. I’m not gonna throw.”

To Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle when asked if he’d experience similar shoulder stiffness:

“Not like this.”

And to Jane Lee of MLB.com when asked how the shoulder felt:

“Tight and it hurts.”

That was it coming from a guy who usually gives lengthy interviews and has more than a lot to say about stuff. His negativity about the situation alone makes it clear he knows something is up and that that something is not normal. So let’s assume the worst and say that Dallas Braden is going to miss extended time as he hasn’t been immune to injury with a 22-day long stint on the disabled list last year with a balky elbow and a 65-day stint on the disabled list in 2009 with that foot nerve problem. What are our options?

Well first off we need to fill the rotation. This shoulder issue clearly has been an issue already this year as I am pretty sure this is why his first start in Toronto was postponed. I didn’t think everything added up at the time and then after he pitched fine figured I must’ve been wrong but my guess is this is what resulted in the delay. So basically given that Brandon McCarthy has filled with #4 spot we just need to get someone to fill the #5 spot. The easiest solution is to use Tyson Ross, who was used for an inning of work today but presumably should be ready to jump into Dallas Braden‘s spot in the rotation when it comes up, with the off-day Monday he could even get extra time to prepare as they skip over the spot and do a straight McCarthy to Trevor Cahill in the rotation. Ross thus far has appeared in three games for the A’s (all in relief) pitching five innings of 3.60 ERA work, with four walks and six strikeouts. He hasn’t been entirely consistent but he has been acceptable and he had a stellar Cactus League.

Another option also in Oakland presently is Bobby Cramer. The left-hander has been working mop-up duty in the pen and has three appearances as well this season, in which he has thrown three and two-thirds innings of 2.45 ERA work, walking one and striking out two, while giving up that game-winning home run to Alexei Ramirez in Chicago. The left-handed Cramer like Ross should be ready to go and jump into the rotation immediately though with the off-day his first start could be pushed further out if need be.

If either Ross or Cramer is moved into the rotation the question becomes who fills the bullpen vacancy and my guess is that Michael Wuertz could be that guy as he will tomorrow will appear in his second game with the Stockton Ports on his rehab assignment. Granted the first outing which came against the Modesto Nuts Saturday, did not go well as he started the game throwing one inning of work in which he allowed four hits (including a home run) which led to three runs (all earned) scoring but on the good side he struck out one and didn’t walk anyone. But then again if those are his numbers on California League hitters, I shudder to think what the American League could do. Regardless, Wuertz today became eligible to return from the disabled list, so he could be a quick switch and give the A’s a more right-handed bullpen.

If we look at bringing someone up from Sacramento to fill the void left by Braden the best candidate presently would appear to be Guillermo Moscoso who in two starts for the River Cats has pitched eleven innings, striking out ten, and walking two which has been good for an 0.82 ERA. Another option is Yadel Marti, the Cuban defector, who would need to be added to the 40-man roster (which is plausible if Braden’s injury required him being put on the 60-day) he hasn’t been as sharp as Moscoso, throwing a 2.45 ERA in two starts with eleven innings worked walking four and K’ing seven. Likewise if either Ross or Cramer were moved to the rotation, these two guys would be suitable to move into the bullpen particularly because both a right-handed in what would otherwise be a very lefty heavy relief corps. Josh Outman is left-handed and struggling with his control (six walks in his six innings of work) still so I don’t see anyway that it’d make sense to bring him up to Oakland at this point.

So there you have it. That’s where things stand. Hopefully Dallas Braden is OK and this is all a needless exercise but I have a feeling that the news here won’t be good. We lucked out with Andrew Bailey, we aren’t going to luck out again.

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