The 3B Problem

Scott Sizemore in healthier, and presumably happier, times.

Hey folks, sorry for the lack of updates lately, I’ve been procrastinating a bit more than usual, but with Spring Training underway and so much going on in MLB, I’m going to step up my efforts to begin really cranking out some material.

Anyways, seeing as how Spring Training just started last Saturday, it makes sense that the perpetually injury-plagued A’s have already suffered a devastating medical setback (Rich Harden doesn’t count anymore). Third baseman Scott Sizemore is out for 2012 after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Oakland’s first full-squad workout.

So now a position that was already rather lean for the A’s becomes an even bigger question mark heading into the season. Assistant GM David Forst told reporters earlier this week that Josh Donaldson is first in line to get a shot at being Sizemore’s replacement and the team will continue to explore other options, both internally and on the trade market. I’d like to be optimistic here, but the A’s simply don’t have all that much to work with.

Who We Got

  • Josh Donaldson – As previously mentioned, Josh is going to get the first crack at the job. Sussan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the long-time catcher impressed the A’s with his work at third during the final month of the season at Triple-A and during Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic, so they hope that he’s ready to handle the third sack at the big league level. Originally a first round pick of the Cubs in 2007, Josh hit .261 with 17 jacks and 70 RBI for the River Cats in 2011. Some of you may remember him from his brief call-up in 2010 in which he played in 14 games.

    I remember him most for reminding me of Eric Byrnes.

  • Adam Rosales– In 2010, the man who rounds the bases after a home run like he’s running from the cops had a pretty good season, hitting a respectable .271 with 31 RBIs in 255 ABs. Not too shabby for a middle infielder who can also play the corner (and sometimes left field as well). Unfortunately, injuries wrecked his 2011 season and he only appeared in 24 games in the bigs, hitting just .098. Rosales can be a solid contributor if he stays healthy. He’s pretty nifty with his glove work, and he may very well have the strongest arm on the team, so making all the throws across the diamond is a not a problem. I’d like to see Adam bounce back this year. How can you not pull for a guy who plays like he’s in the middle of a week-long meth binge?

    Keep running Adam, the little elves with the sharp objects are gaining on you. (Photo: Michael Zagaris – Getty Images)

  • Eric Sogard – It’s a rare occurrence when a guy with 77 big league ABs over two seasons achieves considerable notoriety in baseball, but when you look like you may be more at home at a Dungeons & Dragons convention than a baseball diamond, people will take notice. Sogard is one of the few players who wears glasses while on the field and as such has been given the nickname “Harry Potter, Wizard of the Baseball Diamond.” He’s spent most of his time in baseball playing second and short, but he’s seen some innings over at third. Looking at his minor league numbers, Sogard has done an impressive job of putting a spell on pitchers as he’s managed more walks than strikeouts every season in the minors except for his first. His .380 OBP and low strikeout totals in the minors are a testament to his patience and pitch recognition skills.

    Now if only wizards could make Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton voodoo dolls…

  • Stephen Parker– If you just read that name and you’re wondering, “Who the hell is this guy?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Despite being a fifth round draft pick in 2009 and playing in three minor league seasons, the guy doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page. That’s when you know nobody knows who you are. Still, despite being fairly anonymous to many baseball fans, Parker has actually managed to put up some nice numbers in the minors. In 2010 for Stockton, he hit .296 with 21 homers and 98 RBI. Those numbers slipped a bit when he moved up to Midland last year, (.287, 10, 74), but were still good enough to convince me that he isn’t regressing or overmatched. It’s most likely he’ll start the season in Sacramento.

    An image search for Stephen Parker gave me more results for Sarah Jessica Parker, so here you go.

Although Spring Training isn’t generally a time when teams are looking to make trades, it certainly isn’t unprecedented. If the A’s don’t make a trade in spring, they may wait for the market to develop as the season progresses.

Who’s Out There

  • Alberto Callaspo – MLB Trade Rumors mentioned Callaspo as a possible replacement, but they noted that the A’s would probably have to part with a decent prospect, something I don’t see them doing. Still, he has shown he can be a fairly productive player both on offense and defense. In 475 ABs last season he hit .288 with a .366 OBP. He also put up an impressive 1.7 dWAR. He’s definitely worth a look if the A’s can somehow get him for cheap, but I don’t see it happening.
  • Miguel Tejada – Earlier this week, Tejada told the media that he’d like for Billy Beane to give him a call because he wants to play this year. Seeing as how he posted a .239/.270/.326 line in 343 plate appearances last year for the Giants, it makes sense that he would lobby his old employer for a job, hoping that a strong case of nostalgia will get him a deal. Unfortunately, Tejada’s best days are far behind him. He was never a big on-base guy, and he no longer hits for much power. I’ve seen a bunch of fans on Facebook clamoring for his return, but their judgment is clouded by their longing for the good ol’ days. Let’s face it: The early-2000s are ancient history, and Tejada is toast.
  • Casey McGehee – It was just two seasons ago that this native of Santa Cruz hit .285 with 23 homers with 104 RBI as the starting third baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers, showing progression from his solid 2009 rookie campaign. He was even voted team MVP (yep, over Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun). Now, after a nightmare of a season in 2011, he’s slated to be a platoon player at the corners for the Pirates. Like any ball player, McGehee would prefer to play everyday (and probably not in Pittsburgh), so he’d definitely welcome a trade to a team looking for a starting caliber third sacker. The issues with McGehee are his lack of plate discipline (.320 career OBP) and his propensity for errors, leading all National League third baseman with 20 last season.
  • Matt Carpenter– I’ve seen his name tossed around a bit the past few days and for good reason: This guy really can hit, at least in the minor leagues. Last year, he hit .300 with 12 homers, 70 RBI, and a .417 OBP for Triple-A Memphis. Despite being 26, he’s only been called up to the bigs once, getting 15 ABs last year. He’s blocked in St. Louis by 2011 World Series MVP David Freese, so maybe Billy can get him for cheap. He also shares the same birthday with myself and Tina Turner.

    If Matt can hit the ball with the same consistency that Ike hit Tina, he’ll be an annual All-Star.

  • David Wright – It’s not going to happen as he’d be a costly (major prospects) one-year rental for a team not expected to compete for the playoffs, so just forget about it.

Personally, I think the A’s should just sit tight for now and let Donaldson, Sogard, and Rosales battle it out for the starting spot. If the A’s had a better shot at the postseason, I’d say the hell with it and go after David Wright, but since this is yet another rebuilding year, it’d be best if they just wait it out and see if one of the prospects pans out. If not, they can always look to the trade market or waiver wire in the middle of the season. Whatever happens, we can probably expect to see a rotating cast of characters over at third once the regular season begins.

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