Absolutely nothing signifies the end of a season like expanded rosters in September. For the unaware, all teams are allowed to expand their rosters for one month only starting on September 1st. For non-contending teams, this affords fans and management a chance to watch prospects play at the big league level following the completion of the minor league season. The one provision of course. is that the prospect is added or already a member of the 40-man roster. For fans of underachieving and disappointing teams, this can provide optimism and build excitement for the future. For contending teams such as your 2012 Oakland Athletics, September will afford them the opportunity to amplify their roster with extra pitching, hitting, defense, and speed. Proper usage of the 40-man roster may prove helpful as the dog days of August transform into the final stretch run of September. With that said, here’s a look at some key players who may be on the way to help once the calendar month turns. Keep in mind that with the River Cats clinching their sixth straight Pacific Coast League division title, the A’s may be initially hesitant to strip Sacramento of their best players right before the playoffs, so many may join after September 1st.
As amazing as this season has been, it hasn’t been all peaches and cream in Oakland for everyone. For instance, much was expected from Weeks after he injected excitement into the 2011 A’s with a .303/.340/.421 split upon his call up a year ago. Whether it was the pressure of being the unofficial poster boy of the A’s marketing push, or the league simply exploiting his weaknesses. Weeks completely and utterly fell on his face in 2012. Slumping to a .220/.305/.302 line, he found himself demoted to Sacramento upon the acquisition of Stephen Drew. Seemingly motivated to prove himself, Weeks has been on fire since returning to Sacramento hitting a robust .462/.548/.615 through six games with the River Cats. With Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales doing little to put a grasp on the starting second baseman job in Oakland, it would come as no surprise if Weeks reclaimed his starting position in September.
It’s hard to believe that this is Barton’s 8th year in the Athletics organization. During his tenure with the big club he has accomplished very little outside of strong 2010 season, where he notched an impressive 5.1 WAR on the strength of his ability to walk. Unfortunately he has largely been a colossal disappointment outside of that one year, with this season being no different. Barton was given a shot at nailing down the first base job after the release of Brandon Allen, and failed to provide any real value hitting .198/.325/.283 and being replaced by the production rich tandem of Chris Carter and Brandon Moss. Exiled and seemingly forgotten in Sacramento, Barton hasn’t exactly set the Pacific Coast League on fire hitting a pedestrian .248/.399/.407. With that said its hard to make the argument that Barton deserves to join the team in September based on his offense. However, he has always been an above average defender capable of making awe inspiring splits to save throwing errors as well as fielding his position adequately. The same can’t be said about Carter and Moss. A’s fans may not welcome him back with open arms, but Barton may yet help the team in September. As long as he doesn’t log too many at bats.
The worldwide leader in strikeouts looked equally impressive and shaky during his 3 starts with the Athletics recently. While there’s no denying he has the stuff to succeed, his power slider/fastball combo certainly appears to be quite devastating. I question throwing a rookie who started the year in Double-A against the high powered lineups of the Rangers and Angels with so much at stake. There’s also the factor of workload. His 163 combined innings are already a career high and his confidence level could be severely hampered by a few bad starts in September. While it may be beneficial to have his talented arm in the bullpen, the 5th starter spot can be more then sufficiently held by Travis Blackley or the rehabbing A.J. Griffin who has shown no fear against tough competition as a rookie.
Perhaps the only man in the organization more loathed by Oakland fans then Barton, Tyson Ross has continually failed to impress in his stints with the A’s. In his latest spectacular failure, Ross imploded against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 23rd allowing 5 runs in the 5th inning after 4 spotless frames. Noticing that Ross seems to make a habit of being clobbered the second and third times through the batting order, the A’s sent him down immediately following the game with instructions to put in time as a reliever. With his potentially overpowering arsenal of two and four seam fastballs, change up, and power slider this may be the best role for Ross. Unleash him, and let him hold nothing back for one inning at a time and the A’s may have found themselves yet another effective late inning reliever.
Last but not least, Grant Green of the #freegrantgreen movement. Long have A’s fans clamored for his promotion as a replacement for Cliff Pennington and for very good reason. While Pennington has suffered in 2012, Green has put together a solid season in Sacramento hitting .294/.338/.452 while playing all over the field in extended stints at shortstop, second base, third base, and center field. While the former number one draft pick, may not be ready for prime time. He could log valuable time observing and filling in during a pennant race. While I’d be hesitant to thrust him into a starting role, it might be productive to have him get his feet wet by getting the odd at bat or start during the seasons final weeks. Similar to what the A’s did with Bobby Crosby during the final month of the 2003 season. Here’s hoping he has a better career then Crosby.
Others who may find their way to Oakland: