14

Thoughts on the 2010 Oakland A’s batting order

I was rummaging through my notes from last week’s A’s media event, and wanted to share some thoughts from Bob Geren about his possible batting order. Geren was asked how he would handle the 1-2 spots, with Coco Crisp and Rajai Davis being the prime candidates at the top of the lineup. His take:

“You can do that a couple different ways. You can go Raj-Coco or Coco-Raj. It might depend on who I bat third and fourth. If you have Suzuki batting third, a right-handed hitter, maybe you go Raj first and Coco second. And then Cust could bat fourth, a lefty. I kind of like to (alternate lefties and righties) if it makes sense, so it’s more difficult for the opposition to match up in the bullpen.”

I know … You were hoping that by now, the A’s might have obtained a better fit for the No. 3 hole than Suzuki, right? Perhaps that’s why we’re hearing the Johnny Damon reports. Anyway, Rajai-Coco (or vice versa) is a natural combo in the 1-2 spots. But I could also see a scenario where Suzuki or Ryan Sweeney could bat second and Davis or Crisp could drop down to the ninth spot. Nothing wrong with lighting a fuse at the bottom of the order.

Here’s my stab at a full lineup if the A’s took their current roster into Opening Night. This is assuming that Eric Chavez is coming off the bench, as the A’s plan, and Chris Carter and Michael Taylor are starting the season at Triple-A:

1. Davis LF
2. Crisp CF
3. Suzuki C
4. Cust DH
5. Kouzmanoff 3B
6. Sweeney RF
7. Ellis 2B
8. Barton 1B
9. Pennington SS

**I didn’t purposely try to go right-left all the way down, just worked out that way …

Let’s hear some thoughts on the A’s options …

0

Strange stuff at the ballpark; A’s-Angels lineups

True story … I was walking up to the main entry gate at Angel Stadium this morning, and two security guards were trying to corner a rooster that was running free near the will call windows(and I thought last night’s A’s victory was bizarre). But now that I think about it, catching roosters is pretty good training for stadium security personnel. … Builds quickness. At least that’s how Sylvester Stallone trained for Apollo Creed in “Rocky II.” Rocky was chasing a chicken, to be specific. And he eventually caught it. As far as today’s matchup, my money was on the rooster …

I shared that story because it’s more interesting than anything that happened in the A’s clubhouse this morning. Manager Bob Geren wasn’t lying when he said he’d give a few guys the day off. Kurt Suzuki, Adam Kennedy, Ryan Sweeney and Jack Cust all are sitting. So we’ll see how things play out against Angels lefty Joe Saunders. Daric Barton, who’s impressed at the plate lately, hits in the No. 2 spot behind Rajai Davis.

Today’s lineups

A’s: Davis CF; Barton 1B; Ellis 2B; Nomar DH; Bobby Crosby 3B; Carson RF; Powell C; Patterson LF; Pennington SS; Edgar Gonzalez RHP.

Angels: Figgins 3B; Abreu RF; Hunter CF; Guerrero DH; Morales 1B; Rivera LF; Izturis 2B; Napoli C; Aybar SS; Saunders LHP.

0

A’s-Rangers lineups; pondering Landon Powell’s future role

A little different look to the A’s lineup today, not surprising for a day game after a night game. Eric Patterson is at second base, Travis Buck is in left field and Landon Powell is catching, plans that manager Bob Geren had indicated last night.

Geren was asked if Powell might be a consideration for more DH/first base duty next season, based on how well he’s hit. Geren wasn’t specific, but said he would try to find Powell more at-bats somehow, depending on how the roster shapes up. That’s an interesting idea to ponder. With this year’s offense lacking in the power department, Powell’s presence could provide a little more pop. But that depends on A) How healthy he would remain with increased playing time; B) whether he could improve enough at first base to not be a defensive liability; C) whether the A’s re-sign Jack Cust and what other DH options they might have; and D) who else they might sign/trade for over the winter.

Anyway, here’s your lineups as the A’s prepare to head out on a six-game road trip:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Cust DH
Powell C
Barton 1B
Patterson 2B
Buck LF
Pennington SS

Anderson LHP

Rangers
Kinsler 2B
Andrus SS
Murphy LF
Jones DH
Blalock 1B
Byrd CF
Davis 3B
Teagarden C
Gentry RF

Feldman RHP

0

A’s, Mariners know each other well

A little late with tonight’s post, my apologies on that …

–Landon Powell gets a second straight start tonight for the A’s. He’s at DH after jacking a three-run homer yesterday. Jack Cust is in right field and Rajai Davis gets a night off to rest a sore right thumb.

It’s too bad for Powell he isn’t getting more playing time. He’s really produced when he’s been in there. But other than at catcher or DH, it’s tough finding at-bats for him.

–There was lots of get-reacquainted time on the field during batting practice, as so many former A’s players and coaches are with Seattle. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and bench coach Ty Van Burkleo chatted w/Bob Geren. M’s first baseman/DH Mike Sweeney was catching up w/Mark Ellis … And the newest ex-Athletic/current Mariner, Jack Hannahan, is in the lineup at third base against his former team …

The full lineups

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Ellis 2B
Hairston LF
Cust RF
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Powell DH
Barton 1B
Pennington SS

Mazzaro RHP

Mariners
Gutierrez CF
Branyan 1B
Lopez 2B
Griffey Jr. DH
Hall RF
Johjima C
Hannahan 3B
Wilson SS
Saunders LF

Snell RHP

0

A’s-Sox pregame update — Thursday

It was pouring when I got to Fenway Park about an hour ago, but the sun is out now and it’s looking like this game will start on time. … The Temptations were blasting in the A’s clubhouse this morning — not the usual pregame tunes. I’ll say this: Nomar Garciaparra has seen some Motown clips in his time, judging by the dance moves he was busting out.

No Scott Hairston in the lineup for the third straight day. He says his quad has been slow to recover, but he’s hopeful for tomorrow’s night game in Oakland. Eric Patterson sits today also, with Boston throwing lefty Jon Lester. Ryan Sweeney starts in left field for a change, with Rajai Davis in center and Jack Cust in right.

With the trade deadline just more than 24 hours away, shortstop Orlando Cabrera looked pretty loose this morning, joking around w/his teammates. Manager Bob Geren mentioned how veteran players don’t let trade rumors rattle them this time of year. I’d say Cabrera falls into that category …

The lineups
A’s
Kennedy 2B
Cabrera SS
Garciaparra DH
Cust RF
Everidge 1B
Crosby 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney LF
Powell C

Gonzalez LHP

Sox
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Youkilis 1B
Bay LF
Ortiz DH
Lowell 3B
Drew RF
Varitek C
Green SS

Lester LHP

0

Barton to the DL; Tommy Everidge called up to play first

With the A’s preparing to retire Rickey Henderson’s No. 24 on Aug. 1, the Red Sox will honor their own 2009 Hall of Fame inductee tonight. Jim Rice’s No. 14 will be retired in a pregame ceremony. Nice work by the Sox’s groundskeeping crew, as there’s a big “14″ cut into the grass in left field, where Rice played for Boston.

As for A’s news, Daric Barton was placed on the DL as expected with a strained left hamstring, and first baseman Tommy Everidge was promoted from Triple-A Sacramento for his major league debut. He’s starting at first. A press release lists Everidge at 6-feet, 275 pounds. For you NFL fans, think of Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, the old Saints fullback. Now you’ve got your visual … This dude looks like he’s got some power.

And talk about paying your dues: Everidge is 26, and in his sixth year with the organization after being drafted in 2004. He’s never even been invited to major league spring training, and he’s only been inside a handful of major league parks as a fan. He’s a pretty soft-spoken guy, and is extremely grateful to be getting his chance. A Sonoma native, he grew up a Giants fan and loved Will Clark.

The A’s announced today that right-hander Sean Gallagher, as expected, was sent to San Diego as the third player to complete the Scott Hairston trade. Yes, it was just a year ago that Gallagher was obtained by Oakland as the centerpiece of the Rich Harden trade. Obviously he didn’t pan out like they hoped. Eric Patterson and minor league catcher Josh Donaldson are the only players remaining of the four the A’s received from the Cubs in that deal (outfielder Matt Murton was traded in the offseason for infielder Corey Wimberly).

My question for you readers: Do you still think the Harden deal can work out as a good one for the A’s??? Consider this as you ponder: A scout told me, at the time of the Dan Haren trade, that if two of the six players the A’s got from the Diamondbacks for Haren turned into impact players, the trade could be considered a success. The A’s got four players for Harden and Chad Gaudin, and unless Patterson blossoms at age 26, Donaldson is the last hope for that deal to produce an impact player. So how do you evaluate that trade a year later?

I was just watching Bobby Crosby take grounders at shortstop, and can’t help thinking if he’ll be playing his old position on a regular basis again. That might be the case if Orlando Cabrera gets traded before Friday’s deadline.

Scott Hairston’s left quad is still hurting, so he’s out of the lineup. Ryan Sweeney is in center, with Patterson playing left and Jack Cust in right. Bob Geren said he likes having Sweeney’s stronger arm in center because there’s so much room to cover out there at Fenway.

Enough of my rambling, here’s the rest of the lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Garciaparra DH
Cust RF
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Everidge 1B
Ellis 2B
Patterson LF

Mazzaro RHP

Sox
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Youkilis 1B
Ortiz DH
Bay LF
Drew RF
Lowell 3B
Kottaras C
Green SS

Buchholz RHP

0

More Yankee Stadium rain, of course

Well, the tarp is on the field and the rain is coming down pretty good at Yankee Stadium. We’re about 30 minutes from the scheduled first pitch, and weather.com lists the chances of continued rain at 95-100% through 10 p.m. local time. A 100% chance of rain? Does that mean Mother Nature has dictated rain WILL FALL, no questions asked???? Dallas Braden came into the clubhouse drenched after running out on the field and doing a “tarp dive” (Andrew Bailey captured footage on his cell phone). Right now, tarp diving looks like the only activity that might be taking place on this field tonight. The A’s just can’t catch a break here. Tonight’s game is a makeup from their last trip to the Bronx, when they had an April 20 contest rained out. If they don’t play tonight, they’ll probably play a doubleheader at some point this weekend. We haven’t gotten any word on a Plan B yet.

–You’ve probably seen this report from ESPN’s Buster Olney, who has a source saying there’s a 50-50 chance the A’s and Cardinals swing a deal for Matt Holliday. No surprise that the A’s might be zeroing in on St. Louis third base prospect Brett Wallace, who was a heavy consideration for them during the 2008 draft.

–Surely there’s a large group of Vin Mazzaro fans who hope tonight’s game gets played. Mazzaro, from nearby Rutherford, N.J., is scheduled to make his first start in Yankee Stadium. He’ll have plenty of people cheering him on, as Andrew Bailey did during the last series here. Jack Cust is the A’s third New Jersey native.

–Some details if this game does get played: Adam Kennedy gets a rare day off, as Bob Geren said he’s trying to budget some time off for his everyday players during this 28-day stretch of consecutive games. Rajai Davis is leading off and playing right field. Bobby Crosby (7-for-23 with a HR lifetime against Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia) is playing third base. Cust is the only left-handed hitter in the A’s lineup.

–Justin Duchscherer update: His first rehab outing might come Sunday for Single-A Stockton against the San Jose Giants in San Jose. Geren said that was a possibility instead of Duchscherer throwing Monday in an Arizona Rookie League game. Hold tight on that for now. We’ll probably know more tomorrow. …

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Davis RF
Cabrera SS
Hairston CF
Holliday LF
Garciaparra 1B
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Crosby 3B
Ellis 2B

Mazzaro RHP

Yankees
Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH
Posada C
Cano 2B
Hinske RF
Gardner CF

Sabathia LHP

0

Giambi dropped to seventh; Braden starting Saturday

The Rays may be the defending AL champs and playing good baseball right now, but they’re still not a huge draw here in St. Petersburg. Word is they’ve been drawing poorly on Friday nights, which is why they’re starting Friday games at 7:40 local time, about a half-hour later than the norm. Hmmm … if I was on the fence about going to a Friday night game, I’m not sure a later start would swing me toward grabbing tickets. They also do Saturday night postgame concerts on occasion. Tomorrow night I’ll be serenaded by Smashmouth while I’m working away on my stories after the game. Not so sure that’s going to pack ‘em in either …

–Jason Giambi was dropped to seventh in tonight’s A’s batting order, the lowest he’s hit all season. This probably had to happen at some point, but if Giambi starts hitting again, I don’t think he’d stay down there long. Jack Cust is hitting fifth tonight after hitting mainly sixth or seventh lately. “Cust has been swinging the bat a little better the last couple of months,” Bob Geren said. Kurt Suzuki, who has been swinging it pretty well, was dropped from fifth to sixth. That breaks up what would have been a string of four straight right-handed hitters. Geren really doesn’t have anything to lose by shaking things around, with the way this offense has been …

–Dallas Braden is expected back with the team in time to start tomorrow night’s game. Apparently, Braden threw a side session while he was in Stockton visiting his grandmother, who’s recovering from a stroke. Geren said there won’t be any limits on Braden as far as pitch count. This means Brett Anderson takes the ball Sunday, with Gio Gonzalez pitching out of the bullpen this weekend. Anderson will be on five days’ rest, so we’ll see if he keeps dealing like has in his past two starts w/extra rest.

–Reliever Joey Devine made the trip from his home in Atlanta to spend the weekend with his teammates. He said all has gone well as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, and he’s optimistic about being ready for spring training. The guy is one of the most pleasant, optimistic people you’ll meet, and major elbow surgery has done nothing to change that …

Tonight’s lineups

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Hairston CF
Holliday LF
Cust DH
Suzuki C
Giambi 1B
Sweeney RF
Ellis 2B

Mazzaro RHP

Rays
Upton CF
Crawford LF
Longoria 3B
Pena 1B
Zobrist 2B
Burrell DH
Gross RF
Bartlett SS
Navarro C

Niemann RHP

0

Buck optioned to Triple-A; Eveland joins team

There’s no shortage of news here at Fenway, where Nomar Garciaparra held a news conference in front of 50-60 reporters and broadcasters, new A’s outfielder Scott Hairston is due to arrive anytime, and lefty Dana Eveland joined the club in place of Dallas Braden, who was placed on the bereavement list. We also just heard that Travis Buck was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to clear a roster spot for Hairston.

Let’s recap the A’s news. I’ll try to throw some Nomar nuggets into a separate post.

–Hairston is not in tonight’s starting lineup, but he’ll be on the active roster and available if needed. It depends on how quickly he gets here. His flight was due to land in Boston at about 5:30 local time, 90 minutes before first pitch. Geren held his media chat before we got word of Buck’s demotion. But he didn’t offer much when asked about what the Hairston trade says about Buck’s status in the big picture. “He’s still very young. He’s a player that has a bright future.” Asked whether it’s been Buck’s injuries or flat-out ineffectiveness that’s held him back in the organization’s eyes, Geren offered: “Everything blends together. It’s a hard game to play, period. When he’s out of the lineup, it’s due to one factor or another.”

Geren confirmed that Hairston will take over starting center field duties, with Ryan Sweeney seeing lots of time in right field and Jack Cust sliding into the DH role more often. He said he envisions Hairston hitting somewhere in the 3-5 range in the order. “I like what the guys are doing at the top,” Geren said, referring to Adam Kennedy and ORlando Cabrera.

The A’s outfield defense will definitely be stronger when Matt Holliday, Hairston and Sweeney are playing left to right, with Cust at DH. “(Hairston) definitely improves our team offensively, defensively and on the bases. He’s also a very good base runner,” Geren said.

–I believe I hear the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love?” being played on the Fenway organ right now … just had to share.

–Braden flew back to the Bay Area for what Geren called a family matter, but didn’t offer more information. Players can stay on the bereavement list a maximum of seven days. Eveland, 7-1 with a 3.49 ERA in 12 starts w/Triple-A Sacramento since being optioned May 5, could start tomorrow in Braden’s place. But Geren said Edgar Gonzalez also was an option if Gonzalez isn’t needed tonight in relief. If Eveland goes, he’d be pitching on three days’ rest, as he pitched for the River Cats on Friday. Geren said he’d have to check w/Eveland to see if his arm was good to go on three days’ rest, which is odd because Geren also mentioned Eveland could be used tonight (on two days’ rest) if needed out of the bullpen in a pinch …

Tonight’s lineups …

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
Garciaparra DH
Cust RF
Sweeney CF
Ellis 2B

Anderson LHP

Red Sox
Ellsbury CF
Lugo SS
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Bay LF
Varitek C
Baldelli RF
Green 2B
Bates 1B

Smoltz RHP