May 2, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Alex Gonzalez (11) during an at bat during the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

From Division Champs to Bottom Feeders?

For the first time in a number of years, the Oakland Athletics have to deal with something that they have sorely missed… expectations.  The unlikely ascension of this team from rebuilding to contending has changed the philosophy of the fans to the point that they want Billy Beane to address the team’s needs at all costs.

We’ve been discussing what the A’s can, will, and should do about the shortstop position for 2013 as the return of Stephen Drew looks less and less likely.  I discussed the various options the A’s have to fill the void a couple days ago, and in that article listed everyone potentially available from Drew himself down to Brian Bixler.  Wednesday Devin Pangaro made his case for acquiring Asdrubal Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians.

Well Joel Sherman of the New York Post saw fit to put a big wet blanket on all those notions, atleast for the moment.  In a tweet Wednesday Sherman said the A’s are planning to “bottom feed” for their next shortstop.  It’s unclear specifically what that means, and who would fall into the bottom feeder category, yet would be of interest for the Athletics.  But it appears that list of mediocre options for the A’s at shortstop was dismissed a bit prematurely, and we may very well end up seeing one of them in Oakland next year.

So of those options, who might be a possible addition the A’s can make that would actually help them win?  One name jumps out above all the others, Alex Gonzalez.  He was almost good enough to elevate himself out of that group in the first place, but this development certainly changes things.  Gonzalez is not an All Star caliber player, and has had a few solid years here and there, but his career line of .247/.292/.399 is the  very definition of mediocre player.

The only other options from that list would have to be either Jason Bartlett or Maicer Izturis.  Jason Bartlett was an All Star in 2009 with the Rays, but hasn’t come anywhere near the production he achieved in that season since then.  General mediocrity and injuries are the main culprit for his decline in the last 3 years.  Bartlett can most likely be had on a very low risk Major League deal, or perhaps even a Minor League deal.  He’ll be happy just to have a job at this point.  Maicer Izturis on the other hand has spent his entire career thus far with the Los Angeles Angels, in his 9 seasons withe the Halos he hit .273/.337/.381.  He plays a solid shortstop, and can provide a little speed as well.  Izturis may draw more interest on the free agent market than either Gonzalez or Bartlett may, and therefore his cost might be higher as well.

It’s hard to say what the A’s are trying to do right now.  They made a very clear move to win now with the acquisition of Chris Young from the Diamondbacks, so its confusing to see them now possibly digging for a bargain at shortstop.  Nothing is set in stone with Stephen Drew’s departure, but it just feels like it is the likely result.  It’s still early, and we all know that with Billy Beane anything can happen.

Tags: Alex Gonzalez Jason Bartlett Maicer Izturis Oakland Athletics Stephen Drew

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