It’s only November, but there are plenty of questions surrounding the Oakland A’s this offseason. The apparent logjam at first base is, in my opinion, one of the more pressing issues for the A’s heading into next season.
It’s really a question that’s worth fully exploring in February and March, not in November, but early speculation never hurt anyone. Essentially, if you take free agent acquisitions out of the equation, the A’s have four options at first base.
Players Brandon Allen, Daric Barton, Chris Carter, and Kila Ka’aihue all figure to be in the running for the first base position next season. Allen, who was acquired by Oakland at this year’s July 31 trade deadline, played exceptional baseball for the A’s during his first month or so with the club.
After a hot start that saw Allen hit .290/.333/.551 with three home runs and 8 RBIs in August, the A’s had to deal with Allen’s fall back to Earth in September. Between time spent in Arizona and Oakland, Allen hit a combined .200/.277/.377 with 6 HR and 18 RBIs this year.
Despite his icy cold September, Allen, in my mind, enters this offseason as a strong candidate to remain Oakland’s starting first baseman. He’ll have some competition this spring, with Barton and Carter figured to make a strong push, but Allen should enter spring training as an early favorite to win the job.
Barton suffered through his worst season, hitting a paltry .212/.325/.267 with zero home runs and 21 RBIs. Of course, he did suffer from a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The way he went about that injury, however, didn’t help his cause. In fact, at one point his playing days in Oakland were considered to be numbered.
He’s needs to have a monster spring training, in my mind, at least, in order to reestablish himself as an everyday player for the A’s. The arrival of Allen, however, seems to suggest that the A’s have moved on from Barton.
Carter, meanwhile, sits in an uncomfortable position as well. Like Barton, Carter has had a ton of recognition in the minor leagues, but he hasn’t found success on the big league level. Carter, once considered Oakland’s top prospect, hasn’t impressed anyone with his poor performances on the big league level.
The A’s haven’t given him a lot of at-bats on the big league level, so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle Carter this spring. In my opinion, the A’s, who aren’t competing this season anyway, should go with Carter at designated-hitter. Forget Hideki Matsui, who’s not the same “Godzilla” he once was, and hand Carter the job.
He’s better suited as a DH, since his defense isn’t particularly good at first base anyway.
Another option remains in the form of 1B Kila Ka’aihue. Ka’aihue, 27, hit .195/.295/.317 in 23 games last year with the Kansas City Royals. He’s also a possibility at DH as well.
An outside possibility, which was mentioned in a recent post by Jane Lee of MLB.com, is 1B Derrek Lee. Lee, an aging veteran, spent time in Baltimore and Pittsburgh this year, hitting a combined .267/.325/.446 with 19 HR and 59 RBIs. He performed far better than any A’s first baseman, but he remains a long shot at best, given the A’s current stadium situation.
What do you think? Should the A’s continue to roll with Allen, or should they go with someone else like Barton? Sound off below!