Another day, another tough loss for the Oakland Athletics. They ended up splitting a 4 game series with the Toronto Blue Jays that the A’s really should have swept. The bullpen, namely Ryan Cook was to blame for dropping yesterday’s game and for Friday night’s game going 15 innings, we covered that last night. Today though I have to revisit the gaping hole that has been the shortstop position for the Athletics in 2012.
Prior to the trade deadline there was much speculation of the A’s acquiring some help from outside the organization, such names as Hanley Ramirez, Yunel Escobar, Stephen Drew, and Jimmy Rollins were at one point associated with the A’s. At this point though it seems more and more unlikely that the A’s solution at SS is going to come from anywhere but within the organization. Cliff Pennington has been on the DL with elbow tendinitis but before that he hadn’t supplied much in the way of offense with a .197/.259/.282 line this year. But it’s been made abundantly clear that the current and recent crop of SS candidates aren’t getting it done either, Brandon Hicks hit .183/.246/.417, Eric Sogard is hitting .172/.212/.283, and Adam Rosales has a .156/.372/.156 line. I personally love Adam Rosales simply for his high energy, constant hustle, and the obvious love he has for the game and I believe he should be in the backup SS role over Sogard or Hicks. Not to mention his high speed home run sprint, and if we were able to see that more often this might not be as much of an issue.
So what are we to do with this situation? The A’s need to call up Grant Green and plug him into the lineup for a while and see what he can do at the Major League level. Over his 4 seasons as he’s moved up through the minor league system the 24 year old has a career .301/.348/.460 line, so he’s shown he can hit in professional baseball. So far in 2012 with the Sacramento RiverCats he’s been hitting .294/.335/.453 through 99 games. When he was drafted in the first round by the A’s in 2009 he was a shortstop, and while he’s moved through the A’s system his position has changed almost constantly. From SS to 3B, to CF and back to the infield Green has been tried out just about everywhere on the diamond so certainly no one can argue he isn’t versatile. Of all his positions SS is probably his weakest defensively, but the mere fact that he has experience at the position makes him a fit.
Green hasn’t developed anything beyond average power, and believe it or not that’s not something the A’s desperately need right now. What the A’s need is someone who can be on base when the big boys come to the plate so they can hit more than solo home runs for once. Green seems to profile as a perfect #2 hitter in the lineup with his solid OBP. This way Jemile Weeks can remain in the #9 spot where he seems to be somewhat more productive of late.
I fear that the A’s expect Cliff Pennington’s struggles to be in the past because his elbow is getting healthy, while I believe neither will necessarily be the case. Grant Green needs to be an Athletic, not as a September call up to sit on the bench, grab a few ABs, and experience what it’s like to be a big leaguer. He needs to inject some life into the position and help keep this team in the push for the playoffs.