So here we are on the long-awaited, merciful eve of the last series of the season which makes it as good a time as any to examine the early stages of the Michael Taylor Era.
OK, the uppercase “E” on “era” is probably taking things a little too far but there’s no escaping the fact that Taylor’s callup from Sacramento to Oakland on Sept. 2 was a much-anticipated event among a fan base mired in yet another losing season and thirsty for some hope for the future.
The early verdict is that there’s nothing to see here, but it’s not all Taylor’s fault. Taylor’s September callup has seen him get into just 8 games with a total of 21 at bats to his name and a slash line of .238/.385/.381.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, A’s manager Bob Melvin made the head-scratching decision to basically turn Taylor into a platoon player against left-handed starters which happens to be the weak side of his splits in Sacramento this year.
I didn’t understand that move when Melvin announced it and I don’t get it now.
Another thing that’s kept Taylor pinned to the bench is Melvin’s insatiable urge to play David DeJesus as often as possible in games against teams still fighting for a playoff spot. I understand the Old School reasoning behind it, the whole “play the game right”/”respect the game” thing but it doesn’t mean I have to like it especially with DeJesus hitting a paltry .250/.333/.396 this month.
Call me crazy, but I think Taylor could have out-hit DeJesus if he got a chance to play every day which is exactly what he was doing in Sacramento when he earned his promotion to the Major Leagues. DeJesus held a minor edge over Taylor in terms of batting average and slugging percentage this month but when you boil it down to OPS Taylor came out on top .766 to .729 even in almost-too-small-to-mention playing time.
You would think signing a 3-year deal to manage the A’s would give Melvin a little more motivation to play Taylor and see what he has to work with over the next few seasons but he stuck to his veteran-loving guns and treated DeJesus like he was the second coming of Conor Jackson, feeding him start after start after start despite largely unspectacular results at the plate.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still happy to see that the A’s are keeping Melvin in town beyond this season but the way Taylor has been handled has been a major frustration from where I’m sitting (it’s usually a comfy recliner in the living room in case you’re curious). Was platooning him a decision that came from general manager Billy Beane down to Melvin? If that’s the case it’s disappointing that he may have so little faith in his own prospects.
Or was the call to play Taylor so infrequently Melvin’s sole decision? That’s disappointing too because it may show that Beane isn’t as involved as he used to be way back when the A’s were a winning team but I think that’s something a lot of disappointed fans have suspected for a while now.
Now that the A’s are down to their final series of the year against the last-place Seattle Mariners and DeJesus is nursing a hip injury we should see Taylor in the starting lineup the rest of the way but in the long term it still feels like a wasted month for the big guy’s development in the big leagues.
Do I think Taylor is going to be a star? Not really. I have my doubts that his .272/.360/.456 slash line in his third run at Triple A pitching translates into All-Star production in the middle of Oakland’s lineup for years to come which is what most fans are hoping for. But I would have liked to see him get a legitimate chance to impress this month and prove me wrong because if he eventually tops out as an average everyday player that’ll still be well short of what Carlos Gonzalez has amounted to in Colorado and Taylor is all Beane has left for dealing CarGo in 2008.
If you were basking in the warm glow of today’s awesome comeback win against the Angels, I apologize if I lightly drizzled on your parade with that thought.
Maybe Taylor can put some hop back in your step with a few big games in Seattle this week. Of course, it takes an amazing little thing called regular playing time to help make that happen. Hopefully he’ll finally get it if Melvin simply pencils Taylor’s name into the lineup and lets the kid play.