Inbox: How will A's dole out outfield playing time?
Beat reporter Jane Lee fields offseason questions from Oakland fans
-- Denny C., Chandler, Ariz.
An injury to any one of the A's four outfielders -- I'm not counting Seth Smith, who figures to spend the majority of his time at designated hitter -- could solve this issue, but let's pretend for now that the club is fortunate in having them all healthy for the majority of the year. While that's not necessarily realistic, it's important to consider when trying to figure out who will garner playing time on which days and where.
I'd have to think Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes will play nearly every day, minus perhaps once a week. On those off days, Young would garner playing time in left or right field, with Crisp in center. Accounting for at least four other games during the week, Crisp and Young can equally split that time in center field. Of course, it won't all be that simple, and you must assume production and matchups will play into this, as well. But you couldn't ask for a better manager to orchestrate this group than Bob Melvin, who pulled all the right triggers last year.
Will the A's make any more moves?
-- Al P., Las Vegas
Probably not ones that will draw much fanfare. Several fans have inquired about the possibility of the A's reeling in additional starting pitching depth before camp, but that doesn't seem likely, considering how satisfied they already are with their current group. Elsewhere, the A's are essentially set with position players, and they've also already signed an intriguing crop to Minor League contracts, including hurlers Mike Ekstrom, Justin Thomas and Garrett Olson, and infielder Scott Moore.
There always seems to be one player that surprises us in Spring Training and makes the Major League squad. What player from the A's system do you think can surprise this year in Spring Training and make the team?
-- John S., Pleasanton, Calif.
I honestly don't think there will be roster space for any true surprises by camp's end, but I'm going to go out on a limb and maybe receive some angry e-mails in doing so by proposing the possibility of Daric Barton and his non-guaranteed contract making the team. The A's have always lauded Barton's defensive skills, and should anything happen to Brandon Moss or Chris Carter during the spring, they might be willing to find out what's left in his bat at the Major League level.
Outside of Barton, be sure to keep track of Grant Green and Sonny Gray's doings. Neither figure to make the team, but it should be interesting to see how much progress each has made and how close they appear to a callup.
Is the front office considering bringing back Brandon Inge at all? They let two clubhouse leaders go in Brandon McCarthy and Jonny Gomes, so I think it would be wise to sign Inge cheap so that he can continue to add to the clubhouse chemistry. He would also serve as a safety net in case Josh Donaldson struggles.
-- Tim P., New York
I have no doubt that every single player in the clubhouse, as well as those that govern the front office, would love to have Inge back. But as I've mentioned before, the club's roster is at capacity, and making room for everyone on the 25-man will be hard enough without Inge. There's simply no room for him, unfortunately, and the A's already technically have a safety net at third base in Scott Sizemore.
Why are the A's so down on Jemile Weeks when Donaldson produced the same type of numbers?
-- Mark T., Brookings, Ore.
I wouldn't say the A's are so much down on Weeks as they are insistent on making sure he makes the adjustments necessary of a return to an everyday role. It's not exactly fair to compare his situation to Donaldson's, since Donaldson's late-season presence was truly necessary following the injury to Inge. Weeks, on the other hand, could remain in Triple-A, since the A's had Cliff Pennington to play second base.
Weeks' demotion, though seen as a punishment of sorts, was much more than that: It was an opportunity for him to make adjustments without the pressure of a big league stage surrounding him. The A's really do hope Weeks can put it all together again this year, but they can't guarantee it, which is why Sizemore figures to have the edge entering camp.
Since the A's have acquired Chris Resop, and Jordan Norberto will be back in the bullpen, do you think Billy Beane will give Evan Scribner a chance to start? I think he has what it takes and reminds me of Justin Duchscherer.
-- Joey B., Fresno, Calif.
This isn't a bad idea, and perhaps it would be a great one for clubs looking to fill out their rotation or lock in starting depth insurance, but the A's are all set with starting pitching and like what Scribner did in the bullpen last year, particularly in the few long-relief appearances he was given. So his role figures to remain the same in a well-rounded bullpen.