The A’s waded through the opening homestand to a 3-3 upside finish. The final game, which looked like it was going south badly over the first three innings, picked up with a Brandon Moss three-run homer, three hits from Eric Sogard, a long opposite field homer from Yoenis Cespedes, a gutty turnaround from Sonny Gray and a save by Jim Johnson. They sent a crowd of over 32,000 home happy, which is always a good thing.
Oh yes, and they also got two electric plays from 32-year-old utility outfielder Sam Fuld, playing in place of struggling Josh Reddick in right field. Fuld gunned down Seattle’s Abraham Almonte with a throw that even Reddick would have been proud of, an on-target seed that beat Almonte to the bag by at least 10 feet. Then later in the game, he robbed Logan Morrison with a full layout catch that is sure to make all the highlight reels.
Even though he also got thrown out taking too wide of a turn on a single, Fuld had a pretty good week offensively, too, for a player who hit .199 last year. He had a couple of triples, hit .308 and also posted a .357 on-base percentage. The A’s couldn’t have asked for much more from their backup outfielder. Bob Melvin loves the guy.
But now we may be just a few days from Craig Gentry being ready to join the team. When Gentry arrives, what of Fuld? It’s only a tough call if the A’s can’t find a use for him, but it’s hard to believe they can’t. He has speed, he can play all of the outfield positions very well and he’s a left-handed bat with experience.
The A’s could send Fuld to the minors, but he has an out in his contract that would allow him to opt out and become a free agent on June 1 if he’s not with the big club. Look, there’s no way they’re going to allow that to happen. The question is whether Oakland still thinks Daric Barton is so valuable they can’t afford to let him go (look, no one’s going to claim him if he’s DFA’d, as has been proven, so he’ll always be on hand in Sacto if they continue to cling to the dream he has value).
Barton finished his first week hitting .071, 1-for-14. He didn’t even walk much — once, in fact — so his OBP is a mere .133. He made two defensive slipups Sunday, a second-inning bobble trying to field a ball and make a force play. Then he let a ball get past him on a one-hop throw most first basemen with a defensive reputation snare with ease. Barton is a decent first baseman, probably the best the A’s have right now, but he’s not so much better that he merits starting regularly because of his glove if he can’t hit a lick.
Have the A’s finally seen enough? Well, most fans have. Whether the A’s agree or not, outrighting him twice last year yet keeping him on the roster this year after his contributions last September, is still open to question. Barton’s presence has already curtailed playing time for Alberto Callaspo, who only played twice in the first six games while Barton played in five. Callaspo isn’t looking like a happy camper in the clubhouse. It’s uncertain whether Oakland has already given up on the idea of Callaspo at first base, even though he played there reasonably well in the spring. And let’s face it — Barton got a golden chance this week most players with his history never get, and yet he still didn’t deliver on it. Callaspo went 2 for 5 with a home run and a couple of walks for an on-base of .571. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but does anyone believe Barton is going to be more productive than Callaspo with a bat in his hands over a long haul?
Perhaps the A’s will see light. Fuld is much more valuable to them than Barton. That one’s obvious. But so is Callaspo, considering the fact that he can play three infield positions and hits right-handed pitching even better than left-handers. Melvin said today that a roster decision is coming that will be as tough as sending down Stephen Vogt. Most observers would disagree … unless they send down Fuld, or move Callaspo. Either one would be a lamentable mistake. We shouldn’t have to tell the A’s what the obvious move should be, right?