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Steward on Mora, Closer Job, Arbitration Clocks, Carter, Ynoa, Figueroa and Doolittle

March 8, 2012

Yesterday Carl Steward of the Bay Area News Group did a live chat. The A’s maybe don’t have too many fans or perhaps 7pm on a Wednesday night did not work as well for others as it did for me, but it was largely wide open so I got to ask Carl a slew of questions and he was kind enough to answer. I figured I’d share some of them here with readers.

6:55
Comment From David A Wishinsky

There is a lot of talk that Josh Donaldson is the favorite for the third base job. Now for most of us, not seeing him play but just reading box scores, the results don’t look good. I got to see him in Peoria on Saturday where he looked really good having two good liners just happen to find gloves. It’s just one week, such a small sample size, but is there concern over him? He did not look good against Yovani Gallardo yesterday.

6:56
Carl Steward:

Bob Melvin said today Donaldson will get first crack at winning the job. That doesn’t mean he’ll get it. They’re looking at [Eric] Sogard as well, and there was a report today out of Venezuela that the A’s have offered Melvin Mora a minor-league contract.

6:57
Carl Steward:

The report said Mora has offers from two other teams, Cleveland and Texas. Mora is 40 and got cut last June by Arizona.

I had read that the A’s were interested in Mora as well once Scott Sizemore was injured. I still think the A’s should go with internal options and it seems that they will be. That said, it doesn’t hurt to look to get some more certainty somewhere but there aren’t many (palatable, at least) options on the free-agent market. Last year Mora was a -0.5 WAR player in just 135 plate appearances with a .221 wOBA and 27 wRC+. No thank you!
7:01
Comment From David A Wishinsky

Bob Melvin had said that if there are two lefties in the pen it makes it more likely [Brian] Fuentes closes. Isn’t that a fait accompli basically given that Jerry Blevins who is out-of-options is almost assured a roster spot no matter what? Does that mean that Fuentes will be closing or am I too far ahead of myself here?

7:03
Carl Steward:

There aren’t many lefty candidates, that’s for sure. Blevins probably will make it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Fuentes will close. Ideally, I really think they’d like [Fautino] De Los Santos to step up and take the job.

That’s interesting, I figure De Los Santos is a natural for the future job of closer but I figured that was a role he’d move into in August when I assumed whoever began the season as closer would be dealt. I still really like Grant Balfour for the role of closer. I think he is a natural attitude wise and think he’d really excel in the role and have a decent amount of trade value. I just have concerns with Fuentes in that role. I know he pitched better in that role results-wise in 2011 than in non-save situations and ultimately results are what matter, but the BABIP difference (.226 in save situations to .286 in non-save situations) to me suggested some of those results were based on luck despite a big difference in his K/9 rates 8.2 in save to 5.3 in non-save situations. With respect to FIP, Fuentes was pretty even depending on the leverage of the situation at 4.85 in low leverage, 3.08 in medium leverage and 4.18 in high leverage situations but the lefty-righty split was quite significant: 3.51 against LHBs and 4.51 against RHBs. Do you want those splits on the mound trying to get out a Miguel Cabrera with a one-run lead? I don’t think I do.
7:13
Comment From David A Wishinsky

I know the A’s haven’t cared too much about starting arbitration clocks etc. But they can wait a little on both [Brad] Peacock and [Jarrod] Parker to ensure team control through 2018. Think they’ll do that?

7:14
Carl Steward:

Parker pitches tomorrow, so we’ll see. Peacock possibly could be ready now. Parker looks like such a stud, he could force his way in very soon.

I was very impressed with what I saw out of Parker. Peacock’s results weren’t there, but as we all know and can say a million times over – spring training stats do not matter and do not tell us much. If I am guessing today the rotation behind Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon goes some combination of Tyson Ross, Graham Godfrey and Tommy Milone and while I’d hope they let Parker and Peacock get a little seasoning in Sacramento there is the other side of me that is very excited to see them get going now.
7:21
Comment From David A Wishinsky

I have noticed that [Chris] Carter doesn’t look like the deer in the headlights he did his first few trips through MLB. He had so much power yet at times he looked the way I would if I were fighting off an MLB pitch. Not moving my legs, generating no power, just trying to stay alive. He needs to move his bottom half and really put it all into the swing. He didn’t do that in 2010 (until late) or at all in 2011.

7:22
Carl Steward:

I’m not sure he’ll ever break through. Hope so, because the guy is a specimen. But so is Michael Taylor, and he appears the odd man out already.

Taylor very much so appears the odd man out. It is interesting to me that he feels that Carter might be in a similar predicament which would follow my guess that both Daric Barton and Carter get demoted as they have options remaining and that both Kila Ka’aihue and the everyday looking more and more certain Brandon Allen win the DH/1B jobs with the more slick fielding Allen likely at first and Ka’aiahue likely sharing DH duties with Jonny Gomes.
7:27
Comment From David A Wishinsky

Is Michael Ynoa in camp? What’s going on with him these days?

7:29
Carl Steward:

Ynoa’s in minor league camp as I understand and supposedly will pitch this year in one of the A leagues. Read a story about him recently, don’t remember where, but he’s supposedly finally over all the arm issues and ready to go. What kind of pitcher he is at this point is another story.

7:29
Carl Steward:

I will ask the Ynoa question tomorrow if I run into an A’s exec. But he’s not in the major-league camp, no.

Ynoa signed a record-setting $4.25M signing bonus and since has been a major disappointment. Good to hear he is over his arm issues, maybe he can see some time in Stockton this season and I can get a chance to see him live. He still is only 20 years old, so there is plenty of time for the A’s vaunted pitching development to possibly right his ship.
7:39
Comment From David A Wishinsky

Pedro Figueroa has been on the 40-man roster forever. What’s going on with him? Where is he headed?

7:40
Carl Steward:

Now that’s a question I simply can’t answer. The guy’s pushing 27, and you’re right, is he just taking up space?

Figueroa, is a high powered lefty and the A’s seem to love them. He has been in camp and he has two hitless innings of work under his belt with a K and a walk at the same time the best he has done is pitch at Double-A Midland back in 2010. If not for Sizemore’s injury, I would’ve thought Figueroa’s DFA would’ve put Yoenis Cespedes on the 40-man.
7:43
Comment From David A Wishinsky

Now with Figueroa (and Sean Doolittle too) how many more times can they be optioned? Isn’t there an issue there given their presence on the 40-man without yet having made an MLB debut?

7:44
Carl Steward:

Don’t know the option count on those guys, but there have to be some on Doolittle. Will be interested to see if he makes it back as a pitcher. There’s your extra left-handed reliever! Looked [good] yesterday, one inning, K’d two.

While I think the A’s keeping Doolittle on the 40-man roster is perhaps a similarly unnecessary move to keeping Figueroa there, I am intrigued by him and his transformation from position player to pitcher. I am wishing the best for him, hopefully we can have another Sergio Santos on our hands.
All in all, Carl Steward was really great to answer so many questions from A’s camp. He said that he and Joe Stiglich plan on doing more of these chats in the future and I look forward to getting to hear their opinions.
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