The A’s current 40 man roster contains ten infielders (not including catchers). They are: Daric Barton, Chris Carter, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Hiroyuki Nakajima, Andy Parrino, Adam Rosales, Scott Sizemore, Eric Sogard, and Jemile Weeks. It’s not necessarily the best defensive group in the world but they make the necessary plays that keep hitters of the bases and consequently runs off the board. They do however boast a balanced offense consisting of speed and power. With the breakout years of Chris Carter and Brandon Moss and the eventual fruition of Josh Donaldson, the A’s saw their infield offense produce greatly.
This will be a recurring series outlining the different aspects of the A’s roster. I will preview what the outfield, infield, bench, starting rotation, and bullpen will look like culminating in a preview of what the opening day roster might look like. This series will use the currently active 40 man roster. I will post the links to previous parts of the series here (1).
This years’ group will look a little different than the end of last season with the acquisition of Nakajima and the return of Sizemore. The end of last season saw Cliff Pennington at second and Stephen Drew at short. The new up the middle duo will need to gel quickly so that they can make an impact defensively.
The players with the most to prove are: everyone. Donaldson, Moss, and Carter all had breakout years, but just the same as Josh Reddick, they’ll need to prove last season was no fluke. Nakajima will play his first season in the U.S. and will need to adapt fast to Major League pitching. Scott Sizemore is returning after missing all of 2012 to injury. He was a solid player for the A’s in 2011 and will need to replicate his production at second instead of third (assuming he starts at second). Jemile Weeks has the most to prove out of the bunch, however. He struggled all of 2012 eventually culminating in a demotion to AAA Sacramento. If he can show in spring training he made the necessary adjustments he might just be able to beat out Sizemore for a starting role.
The player with the most to gain and lose is Brandon Moss. Moss’ breakout year and infectious personality took A’s fans by storm. He burst on to the scene powerfully. To possibly play himself into a multi-year contract should be enough motivation for a player who always seems happy just to be playing baseball in the Major Leagues. If he unexpectedly falters he may fall back into his former days of bouncing from team to team on minor league deals. He controls his destiny, and he will be a major part of Oakland’s success if they expect to contend for October baseball again.
All in all the A’s infield looks good going into spring training. With Parrino, Rosales, Sogard, and Barton competing for backup spots, the starters will have the work cut out for them if they hope to regain their spots in the daily lineup. Their success depends heavily on players looking to replicate their success from the previous season and a shortstop looking to plant his feet firmly in Major League Baseball.