In light of the devastating season ending injury to Scott Sizemore, the Oakland A’s suddenly find themselves without a starting third baseman. Or do they? Turned off and well…simply offended by the remains of the free agent bargain bin (Wes Helms, Felipe Lopez , and a soliciting Miguel Tejada) the A’s appear that they will search internally for the answer in the form of former catcher Josh Donaldson.
Donaldson, 26 is the last remaining remnant of the lackluster Rich Harden deal from July of 2008. Over three and half seasons in the A’s chain he’s shown the ability to hit for power and a decent average, and last year put up a .261/.344/.439 with 17 HR and 70 RBIs for the Triple-A Rivercats. Drafted and used exclusively in the low minors as a catcher by the Chicago Cubs, Donaldson has been eased into the trying his hand at the hot corner by the A’s over the last two seasons in the minors. After a 15 game stint in Double-A Midland in 2009, he appeared in a total of 27 games last year in Sacramento at third. While no one can predict an injury, the A’s realize that third base is an organizational weakness at the higher levels and faced with a perilous situation they need someone they can turn to in time of need.
As Donaldson attempts to make his case this spring, he can check the baseball almanacs and realize he’s not the only former catcher to switch positions in history. While some like Craig Biggio have used their athleticism to star at multiple positions, others like Brandon Inge have transformed into solid everyday players after the switch. The logic behind such as move is that you can save an athletic, offensive-minded catcher from the stress of managing a pitching staff, blocking balls, taking foul tips to the head, and operating from a squatting position for 9 innings a game. Such factors lead to most catchers statistically comparing more to Mike DiFelice then Mike Piazza. Blocked by Kurt Suzuki, this is Donaldson’s best chance to play everyday in the big leagues.
Whatever the A’s decide to do, it appears that Donaldson will get the first crack at the third base position this spring with his strongest competitor being fellow rookie Wes Timmons. While it may not be his to lose, it is absolutely his to win at this point.