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More Cuts as Roster Picture Clears

March 19, 2012

While some of my readers I suppose will never understand the analogy and my children whenever they arrive on this planet will certainly not know what I am talking about, spring training is that period of the year akin to waiting for a Polaroid to develop. The image slowly emerges in smoky swirls and after tapping it, waving it around, exposing it to air and light and whatever else it is that happens in that chemical process, eventually the image sharpens. Such is the case with the A’s as they made some more expected roster moves and made some announcements that make everyone’s roles appear clearer here a few days before the A’s depart for Japan.

Yesterday, the A’s optioned Neil Wagner along with Chris Carter and Michael Taylor to Sacramento. Wagner had a particularly rough spring, having thrown five and a third innings in five appearances. He got roughed up allowing eight earned runs on eleven hits two of which flew over the outfield wall for home runs. He allowed just two walks and managed four strikeouts en route to a 13.50 ERA. Carter seemed like he could make it as a DH, though the growing log jam didn’t bode well for him and he did nothing to separate himself from the pack with a .217/.321/.304 slash line in the Cactus League with no home runs in 28 plate appearances. Taylor likewise seemed squeezed from the beginning as the depth chart ahead of him rapidly was filled with the new year, while David Forst commented earlier in the offseason that the ball would just drop in the outfield and mentioned Ryan Sweeney being there, his omission of Taylor seemed to foreshadow his lack of place on the roster. His spring did not differentiate him at all as in 24 plate appearances he owned a .200/.292/.200 slash line which proved he wasn’t even able to manage a single extra base hit. These moves coincided with the reassignment of Erick Threets a non-roster invitee to the minor-league camp.

Today four more were cut as Derek Norris was optioned to Sacramento and three non-roster invitees were reassigned to minor-league camp, them being: Jeff Fiorentino, Brandon Moss and Ryan Ortiz. Norris, the A’s likely catcher of the future, went .250/.250/.500 in the Cactus League including a game winning grand slam in 16 plate appearances. Jeff Fiorentino who everyone anticipated would just be Triple- A filler didn’t get enough playing time to dissuade anyone of those thoughts but put up a good spring in twelve plate appearances going .375/.583/.500. Meanwhile Brandon Moss put together an exceptional spring and in a year when the A’s aren’t carrying a boatload of outfielder probably would’ve earned himself a spot on this club as he hit an exceptional and team leading .526/.550/.842 with a home run in his twenty trips to the plate. Ortiz had very limited action, with just two trips to the plate in three games, but he made the most of his opportunity walking once and hitting a double his other time up.

These two purges combined to lower the A’s roster numbers to 37 active players in camp with 33 players being ones on the 40-man roster and four being non-roster invitees (Manny Ramirez, Evan Scribner, Travis Schlichting and Wes Timmons).

The A’s of course get a larger contingent to travel with them to Japan and speaking of Timmons he will be one of them. Jane Lee of MLB.com today tweeted,

“All infielders still in camp, including Wes Timmons, are going to Japan.”

In another clarification tweet, Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News highlighted that the A’s,

“will carry two true catchers to start season rather than have [Josh] Donaldson be backup. Points to [Anthony] Recker making team for sure.”

The biggest sort of roster news is that Yoenis Cespedes will be the center fielder for the A’s when they go to Japan, and presumably beyond as they announced the move and said that along with that Coco Crisp will be starting in left field. The report by Susan Slusser in the A’s Drumbeat has the details that,

“The A’s all along have felt that if Cespedes is most comfortable in center, which is where he has played his entire life, that he’d stay there. He has enough other things to get used to: a new country, a new language, a new league, new teammates, pretty much everything. This is one thing that the A’s can do to increase his comfort level.”

 This news impacts other spots on the roster. It is expected that right field will be manned by Josh Reddick meaning Seth Smith is the odd man out in the outfield. Presumably he splits his time with fourth outfielder duties and designated hitting a role he’ll share with Jonny Gomes. Unclear what happens with Collin Cowgill who has had a remarkable Cactus League but as the demotions of Fiorentino and Moss demonstrate with the sheer volume of outfielders that might not make any difference.

The A’s aren’t done yet, and by the end of this week everything ought to be much clearer.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kasper & Ghosts permalink
    March 20, 2012 12:36 am

    Carter & Taylor are total busts.. Derrik Norris looked amazing. Brandon Moss deserved a spot at DH. Cespedes needs a month at Triple A. Cowgill should be starting over Reddick.

    My two cents

    • March 20, 2012 3:49 pm

      Carter and Taylor presently are total busts. I agree. There have been late bloomers before and I hope thats the explanation for these two though I am not holding my breath.

      Don’t think Moss deserved a spot, maybe someone to have a look at down the line if there are injuries or the like. Gotta remember that there are some very small sample sizes at work. I agree with you that Cespedes might be best benefited by a month in Sacramento and hope he is quickly demoted if he struggles. I like Reddick over Cowgill, though I really like Cowgill too.

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