The A’s tried going to battle with two left-handed first basemen.
Now they are trying it with one left-hander and one right-hander.
Kyle Blanks joins the A’s Friday in Cleveland as the right-handed hitting first baseman, joining Brandon Moss, the lefty. Daric Barton, the other lefty at the season’s start, has been designated for assignment to make room for Blanks.
It never seemed to make much sense to outsiders to have both Moss and Barton on the roster at the same time unless one was going to be the DH and one was going to be the first basemen and both were going to play against both left-handed pitchers as well as right-handers.
That’s just how the roster as constituted on March 31 would work best.
It turned out it was tough for manager Bob Melvin to get both of them into the lineup at the same time, not when Melvin needed the DH role for other things and when Barton was off to a bad start both offensively and defensively.
In the first week of the season alone, while Moss was supposed to be the DH and Barton the first baseman, Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes both got a shot at the DH.
Since then, so has everybody else. Seven different players have been used as the designated hitter.
Now the A’s have a new look. Moss, who has the fourth-best RBI total in the American League (33) despite not starting every day, would seem to need to be in the lineup every day. He’s hit left-handers pretty well (.320), much better than he’s hit right-handers (.270) as it happens, although most of his homers and RBIs have come as a right-hander.
Blanks, who has some power but who has yet to have much success in the big leagues, could perhaps find himself the way that Nate Freiman found himself last year, hitting up a storm (.304, four homers) while facing almost exclusively left-handed pitchers. Freiman is in the minor leagues this year as much to make up for the lack of at-bats against right-handed pitchers he had last year.
Blanks’ arrival, while obviously taking complete playing time away from Barton, also figures to take playing time away from Moss. Moss was playing first base over Barton of late, but there is at least a possibility that will go away with Blanks’ arrival.
General manager Billy Beane, asked about it Wednesday, indicated the platoon system wasn’t going away any time soon.
“We are trying to create the best matchup situations we can,’’ Beane said. “That’s why we’ve been successful. (The platoon system) is one of the main reasons we’ve won. There’s no reason to stop, but it will obviously be on a game-by-game basis.’’