During every baseball season, the grind of the 162 game schedule takes its toll on the 25 man roster. Over the years the A’s have been a prime example of just how useful having a Triple A team can be when it comes to plugging holes at the Major League level. Injuries, trades, and an overall lack of production can lead to a revolving door between Triple A and the Majors. This season wasn’t nearly as taxing in that manner as years past had been, so perhaps we didn’t see as much travel on I-80 from Oakland to Sacramento and back as we normally would’ve. But without a doubt there were a number of players who played the tiniest of tiny roles on this team during the 2012 season, some of whom many A’s fans have already forgotten. Some of these players were moved out of the organization, some sent to Sacramento to stay, others were put on the shelf for the duration of the season. No matter how, these guys were nothing but a distant memory as the A’s stormed back and took the AL West in game 162.
During the relative rough patch that was the first two months of the season, there was really no indication that this team would put together any kind of run towards contention. Perhaps the fact that Anthony Recker was on the Opening Day roster helped fuel that notion that 2012 would be a long season. Recker had a .129/.250/.161 line in 37 plate appearances with the A’s before being shipped back to Sacramento where he had toiled for the previous 3 seasons. He was dealt to the Chicago Cubs on August 27th, where he helped lead the Cubs to 101 losses.
Remember when the A’s fleeced the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Brad Ziegler trade by acquiring Brandon Allen? Yeah me neither. When he goes deep, he goes way deep. But making contact with the baseball pretty much any other time was quite a difficult task. He only played in 3 games in 2012 for the A’s, and was designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays who released him in late July. I will fondly remember his mammoth home runs in Yankee Stadium last season though.
We also saw the likes of Luke Hughes and Rich Thompson, who for a brief moment made the A’s the first team ever to have 3 Australian born players on their 25 man roster at one time (The 3rd of course being Grant Balfour). Hughes started 4 games, and had just 1 hit in his 13 plate appearances. Thompson made one appearance for the A’s out of the bullpen, pitched 0.2 innings and allowed a hit. Thompson was sent down to Sacramento where he remained for the rest of the season, Hughes was sent there as well but found himself the odd man out there and was demoted down to Midland. Hughes was released in July.
Fautino De Los Santos was at one time considered to be the closer of the future until his control issues got the better of him, he was dealt to Milwaukee in the trade that brought George Kottaras to the A’s before the July deadline. An honorable mention goes to Kila Ka’aihue who was designated for assignment and spent the bulk of the season in Sacramento, but is the proud owner of one of the A’s walk offs this year.
And who can forget the one and only Brian Fuentes. The odd throwing lefty who seemed like a decent guy, but had a tremendous knack for handing games over to the opposition. He was designated for assignment by the A’s and eventually picked up by the Cardinals. Aside from the walk off home runs he surrendered this year, Fuentes’ time in Oakland will be fondly remembered for his hand in the departure of Bob Geren. Fuentes criticized Geren’s bullpen management publicly, and helped stoke the flames that ultimately cost Geren his job and brought us the fantastic Bob Melvin. For that we are all eternally grateful.
Of course the biggest departure from the A’s this year was Kurt Suzuki. He struggled so much this year it was almost hard to watch. I was always a huge fan of Kurt’s throughout his time in Oakland and although it was obvious a change of scenery was necessary, it was sad to see him go. He was dealt to the Washington Nationals and became their everyday catcher. He helped guide the Nationals pitching staff to the best record in baseball and their first NL East title, but those pesky defending champion St. Louis Cardinals ended their season perhaps prematurely. Kurt will always be a fan favorite in Oakland no matter what happens.
While we all share fond memories of Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss, Coco Crisp, Jonny Gomes, as well as Jarrod Parker, Brett Anderson, and A.J. Griffin to name a few, let us not forget the little guys and the also rans who helped make this the most memorable season for the A’s in recent times. Who knows what players might get the privilege to don the green and gold next season, even if it’s for a fleeting moment, they’ll become part of the fAmily.