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Daric Barton’s debut

First day in the majors, and A’s prospect Daric Barton lived up to the hype. Two walks, two hits, a double and a run scored. He must not be big on the team thing, though, because he didn’t hit a grand slam.

Obviously, that last statement is tongue-in-cheek. It will be interesting, though, to see if Barton can add any power at all to his resume. A’s general manager Billy Beane preaches from the school that power is the last thing to arrive for a big-league hitter, and it’s a school of thought that’s not nearly radical enough to produce a book. That said, the question among scouts about Barton is whether he can ever be a 20-25 HR guy.

“A slightly better version of Dan Johnson,” is what one scout told me to expect, and that’s ironic, because Johnson is one of two A’s who slammed on Tuesday. Still, when you consider the hype that has surrounded this kid since the A’s acquired him with Dan Haren in the Mark Mulder deal two winters ago, the A’s will need him eventually to be a lot better than Dan Johnson. Anyway, Beane has said Barton will be a fixture in the lineup for the final three weeks.

Interesting timing in the decision to bring him up. Barton practically carried Triple-A Sacramento into the Pacific Coast League championship series, but he wont’ get to finish the deal. Combine that with the fact that three is not nearly enough of a sample size to gain an accurate gauge of a guy’s ability, and what you have is another decision that seems straight out of the school of Piazza.

What the three-week time frame does allow, however, is enough time for Barton to show off his strengths, before the league adjusts to him. So it could be, perhaps, that Beane envisions showing off Barton and then trading him. After all, he’s already got Jack Cust as his DH for 2008 (not a whole lot of demand for him, I would imagine), and Nick Swisher’s future likely rests at first base because the A’s have a glut of outfielders and it’s a little less demanding physically than the outfield.

Regardless, it would do the organization well if Barton performs up to expectations, because that would give them options. This is a team that is facing a major facelift, and nothing would help them more than to have young talent to offer other clubs.

rhurd