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Balfour Named Closer, Figueroa and Peacock Optioned

March 20, 2012

Grant Balfour was named the A’s closer to begin the 2012 season. This is welcome news as I have advocated that Balfour should be the closer ever since incumbent closer Andrew Bailey was sent to the Red Sox in the deal that acquired Josh Reddick. Balfour and the other primary candidate Brian Fuentes, have both had rough springs but what it came down to was their performance last year and the sentiment that Balfour could handle the closing role. Last season, Fuentes had a 0.1 WAR season as he threw 58 1/3 innings of relief with a 3.70 ERA and 4.16 FIP. He managed 6.5 K/9 to 3.1 BB/9 while surrendering 0.9 HR/9. In contrast, Balfour was worth 0.4 WAR in his 62 innings of work, with a 2.47 ERA and 3.77 FIP. His peripherals were 8.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 but with a high 1.2 HR/9. Fuentes will be waiting in the wings should Balfour falter, and I imagine Joey Devine once he recovers and Fautino De Los Santos may cycle into the closer role at some point this season too. Here’s hoping Balfour succeeds and then can yield something valuable at the deadline.

In other news from camp the A’s optioned two players today. Prior to today’s game Brad Peacock was optioned to Sacramento and following another scoreless outing Pedro Figueroa was optioned as well. Peacock who like Jarrod Parker, who was optioned yesterday, is still in the mix for the fifth starter spot despite the demotion as the A’s won’t need a fifth starter the first few weeks. In the spring Peacock pitched seven innings, during which he walked and struck out four. He struggled allowing a lot of baserunners (his WHIP was an ugly 2.29) and a lot came around to score giving him a messy 12.86 ERA though his FIP would’ve been a far better roughly 3.77 FIP.

Figueroa, a long shot to make the bullpen, did as well as anyone can do in camp. He too pitched seven innings, walking two and striking out five. He allowed no runs and just four hits in his time on the mound. Bob Melvin has talked about the A’s having a seven-man bullpen and Figueroa’s demotion leaves seven men on the 40-man roster who seem likely to open the season as the A’s bullpen: Balfour, De Los Santos, Fuentes along with Jerry Blevins, Andrew Carignan, Ryan Cook and Jordan Norberto. There are two non-roster invitees left, Travis Schlichting and Evan Scribner. This also leaves the A’s roster at 30 men for Japan (Daric Barton and Manny Ramirez will stay behind in Phoenix) which means the roster is set for the trip to Japan. The roster will need to be reduced by the first game to 28 men and of those 25 can be designated to play for those first two games. The three on the outside looking in will not be demoted but rather just ineligible for the series. It’s looking like Norberto might have earned himself a roster spot, I still wouldn’t be shocked to see Schlichting who has impressed the spring make the squad somehow as well. Kila Ka’aihue had a good day today but as he is out of options he could represent one potential 40-man roster opening.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. jim permalink
    March 21, 2012 1:21 pm

    The A’s should be doing eveything they can to get rid of Crisp. What a travesty signing him in the first place. And now Oswalt, who could really help now and likely be a very good trade chip is almost begging for someone to sign him. But that money is gone for NOTHING.

    But that’s not my complaint right now. My new one is that it looks like the A’s are going to waste roster space on several no-upside players in a year they should be exclusively trying to find potential upside players.

    Here’s how it should work. Donaldson gets in some time at 3rd. Then he backs up Suzuki, who the A’s play until he drops anyway, because he’s such a “gamer”. Sogard gets some time at 3rd, then he backs up short and 2nd. No other back-ups are needed for those positions. They’re all no-upside players anyway. I only want Recker to make the team if he replaces Suzuki (a likely upgrade).

    Then there’s some room on the roster to keep Kila and Allen, and maybe even Cowgill can stay on the roster. It’s absurd to me that they have to keep other useless players around on the off chance that someone gets hurt and for half a game someone might have to play out of position- in a season where wins aren’t going to matter anyway!

    Finally, why aren’t they having Barton prepare to play 3rd base? If he can successfully do so, and maintain his good OBP, then he becomes an asset at the position, and also opens up 1st for someone to break out. His offense doesn’t play well at first on a team starving for offense. Why not try?

    I think that the A’s of old would automatically do the above. Now they seem to do the mindless Pittsburgh and KC moves, as if those ideas might suddenly work. I won’t be at all surprised this year when Coco DH’s, Gomes regularly bats against right handers, Fuentes regularly pitches to right handers, and Suzuki bats 4th. The A’s make these stupid moves now.

    • March 21, 2012 11:42 pm

      Jim – Thanks for commenting!

      I am with you regarding Crisp and felt Oswalt would’ve been a nice addition. Given now that he wouldn’t be ready until mid-season it wouldn’t be worthwhile for them to do.

      I am high on Donaldson despite the fact he has done little be worthy of my admiration. I like giving him a shot at third and keeping Recker behind the plate. I think Recker does have the potential to allow the A’s to ship Suzuki who I think is probably at his maximum value in July.

      I agree wholeheartedly re: Barton. He has been athletic and good at defending first, he seems a decent candidate to give a go at third for. After all Sizemore moved from second to third and showed immense improvement by the end of the season, Barton to me would be starting ahead of the curve being a corner infielder. It is unclear to me too as to why this experiment hasn’t even been tested.

  2. Hungary4A'sNews permalink
    March 22, 2012 2:27 pm

    GENTS! Great items for discussion.

    Unfortunately, I can contribute little 1st hand to this (95.7 the game..seems to keep allowing College hoops pundits to have the Spring Training game slot on the internet…well also the weather delay : ( ).
    But I think that we will see a last minute bit of tweaking due to all the option/position/performance/trade…stuff. So Now I can only say..find a spot for Cowgill, I’m happy to buy an Allen jersey and WRITE IN Scribner’s Name on the 40 man (get that one?).

    Regarding Barton…anyone seen him throw? I’ve got no idea …but …3rd base is often limited by a lack of arm strength.
    Please share your knowledge.

    • March 22, 2012 5:22 pm

      I think that Cowgill gets on this club. Barton’s throwing seems fine though he seems a bit tentative. I just don’t see how he doesn’t get optioned at this point. Great ballplayer but let’s see what Allen and Ka’aihue offer before cutting them loose.

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