While the A’s spent much of last Thursday enjoying a cross country flight to Baltimore as they start a nine game east coast swing. Their Triple-A affiliate, The Sacramento River Cats were hard at work defeating former NLCS MVP Jeff Suppan and the Tucson Padres 4 to 1 at Raley Field. Not to be lost in the footnotes of the game, was outfielder Brandon Moss recording his 1000 minor league hit in the 6th inning.
Sadly there was no announcement over the loud speaker congratulating Brandon on his achievement. No stoppage of the game so an infielder could roll the ball to the River Cats dugout for safe keeping. No extra ovations or acknowledgements from the West Sacramento faithful. It was just another hit for the longtime minor leaguer, and more importantly to Moss, it may represent one inch closer to returning to the big leagues.
Approaching his 29th birthday, and in the midst of his 10th year in professional baseball the assumption can be made that Brandon Moss’s days as a prospect are officially over. He simply a man trying to get another chance. A chance that some would say was squandered in 2009, when he spent a full year in the majors appearing in 133 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Playing an unimpressive right field, for an equally unimpressive team, Moss struggled at the big league level hitting .236/.304/.364 during his age 25 season. Just one year prior, he had been a momentary hero crushing a game tying home run in Japan off Huston Street on opening day as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Despite putting up strong stats with Boston early in the season, a numbers crunch forced his demotion to Pawtucket and soon Pittsburgh came calling. Working their way into a three team trade between Boston and Los Angeles, Pittsburgh was able to extract Brandon Moss in the deal that brought Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers.
Ultimately flaming out after one bad season in in Pittsburgh, Moss has spent much of the last two years splitting time playing in Triple-A for the Pirates and Phillies affiliations, and briefly back at the major league level. Despite his limited time in the show, Moss caught the attention of the A’s last season as he preformed well in the Phillies organization hitting 275/.368/.509 with 24 home runs before a September promotion. Signed as a minor league free agent this past winter with an invitation to spring training, he faced overwhelming odds to make the parent club due to the influx of outfielders acquired by Billy Beane.
Undeterred by the lack of opportunity, Moss went out and showed the organization what he does best. Leading the team with numbers more suitable for a video game then real life he far and away put up the best stat line of any A’s player this spring hitting a cool .500/.522/.773 with a home run and 7 RBI’s. Nevertheless, there was simply no room for him and he was demoted to Triple-A Sacramento before the big club departed for Japan. Instead of hanging his head, Moss has continued his success in Sacramento so far in the early season and is tied for the club lead in home runs with 4, while hitting .338/.415/592.
While he may never make an impact in Oakland. one thing is for certain, Moss can hit. All he needs is another opportunity. After all it wasn’t that long ago that a 28 year old former Red Sox minor league outfielder made his way to Oakland and surprised the baseball world with his ability to hit. That player was Matt Stairs, and thanks to his shot with the A’s he would play in the big leagues until age 43 making a career solely on his ability to hit.