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Powell Down, Recker Up, Someone Off

August 22, 2011

Anthony Recker will be added to the 40-man roster prior to tomorrow night’s game in the Bronx as last night Landon Powell was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. The move comes as a huge surprise because even though Powell was certainly not hitting well, as a seldom-used backup who works well with the pitching staff I could see no talk anywhere about this move being even considered. That all said, Powell has been playing replacement level baseball all year, with a .176/.257/.235 slash line, .230 wOBA and 42 wRC+ all adding up to a 0.0 WAR for him in 113 plate appearances spread across 32 games.

The timing of the move is a bit strange given that there are less than ten days until the rosters expand on September 1st. It is unclear if Powell will be back by then, Sacramento well out front of second-place Las Vegas (13 games ahead) in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Southern Division does look to be in the postseason. In support of those first-place River Cats, Recker’s year has been a good one. The 28-year old, just one year Powell’s junior, has a .287/.388/.501 slash line with the River Cats this year, featuring a .385 wOBA and 117 wRC+. In 412 plate appearances, across 99 games he also has hit 16 home runs, while walking 13.6% of the time and falling victim to the strikeout 19.7% of the time. We got to see a little bit of Recker in Spring Training when he went 5-for-19 with a home run. It should be noted that Anthony Recker is not on the 40-man roster, so a corresponding move will need to be made. It is presently unclear what that move will be but it could involve simply moving someone like Daric Barton onto the 60-man disabled list as opposed to any players being designated for assignment. This is but one of the reasons the move came as a surprise, as the only other catcher on the 40-man roster is Josh Donaldson, who was placed on the active roster back when Kurt Suzuki was gone for paternity leave though he did not play. Donaldson himself is not having a bad year either, hitting .254/.331/.445 in 441 plate appearances across 101 games with a .344 wOBA and 91 wRC+ also with 16 home runs.

This move however I think is bigger than simply getting Landon Powell at bats at Sacramento. I think this move says something about the surety of Kurt Suzuki‘s status with the Athletics going forward as I think this is perhaps a test drive for Anthony Recker (and perhaps for Josh Donaldson too when rosters expand) to see what the A’s have in their own system. Suzuki could very well be a valuable trade piece as the A’s seek an upgrade in the outfield or at third base as he himself has been quite disappointing this year. It’ll be interesting to see what happens going forward, but to me this move says far more about Suzuki’s future than it does about Powell’s.

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