The A’s are gearing up for a follow-up to their remarkable 2012 season and the team will be banking on their depth once again to get them into the post-season.
Oakland’s depth was a crucial part of the team’s success last year and this year figures to be no different.
Their depth will be on display very early on during spring training as the team is sure to feature a few position battles out on the diamond.
One of the more interesting battles worth watching this spring will be the battle for second base.
The A’s currently have three qualified position players capable of filling in at second base this year for Bob Melvin. Among those who are capable of filling in the position are Jemile Weeks, Scott Sizemore, and the newly acquired Jed Lowrie. Melvin will have plenty of time to name his second-baseman, but the decision is not an easy one to make.
Lowrie was added this offseason for extra insurance and depth, so it is difficult to imagine a scenario where the A’s immediately hand off second-base to a guy who is coming off an injury plagued season.
That is not to say it’s out of the realm of possibility.
Lowrie did hit for a little bit of power last year in a shortened season with Houston due to injury and we all know how Oakland thirsts for power. As Susan Slusser points out in a recent article focusing on Oakland’s position battles, Lowrie could be a good fit at second given his experience at the position.
He played second base while attending Stanford.
As we make our way into spring training, however, I see Sizemore and Weeks as the two serious options for Oakland’s second base position. The fact that Lowrie is now playing with a competitive ball-club should make it a little easier for him to accept a role as a utility player, at least initially it should.
Sizemore, who is coming off an injury that sidelined him for all of 2012, enters spring training with a lot to prove. The A’s definitely liked what they saw from Sizemore in 2011 when he hit .249/.345/.433 with 11 HR and 52 RBI in 93 games.
While Sizemore anchored the hot-corner during the ’11 season, Josh Donaldson should be penciled in at third base this year. This should open the door, then, for Sizemore’s return to second base, right? .
Well, it could. His only obstacle preventing him from returning to his natural position is Weeks.
Weeks was Oakland’s starting second baseman last year after taking over the duties in 2011 when Mark Ellis was traded. When Weeks arrived in Oakland during the 2011 season, he provided the team with an immediate spark. He added much needed life on offense and was a threat on the base-paths due to his speed.
He was a glimpse into Oakland’s bright future. Or so we thought.
Many of us had Weeks pegged for a breakout season last year, but the speedy infielder instead disappointed us with a .221/.305/.304 slash line. It wasn’t the season we had in mind for the guy who hit .303/.340/.421 with 2 HR and 36 RBI in his first year in the show.
Weeks enters this year with a few things to prove as well. He lost the starting job last August when he was demoted to Triple-A and has yet to win it back. The young infielder will likely need to have a solid spring to win back the starting job, but even that might not be enough.
There are plenty of other factors that will come into play.
For one, if both Lowrie and Sizemore perform well this spring while a guy like Josh Donaldson falters, Weeks could find himself out of the mix at second. In this scenario, Sizemore could potentially pick up right where he left off at third while the A’s hand Lowrie the keys for second base.
A lot has to happen in order for that to become a possibility, but it could happen. The A’s have a lot of depth this year and Weeks could find it extremely difficult at times to overcome that added depth. He has a lot to prove and the A’s are going to be looking at all their options this spring. Competition will be fierce throughout A’s camp this spring.
Right now, I see both Weeks and Sizemore gunning for the starting job. With Sizemore coming off a knee injury, I have to give the edge to Weeks right now. Mind you, we haven’t seen these guys in game action yet. Things could easily change, though, if Sizemore, who provided Oakland with some power in ’11, flashes some pop during spring training.
- Prediction: While Weeks faces fierce competition this spring, I’m going to take a chance and say he’ll emerge as Oakland’s best option at second base. Sizemore is coming off an injury that sidelined him for the entire ’12 season and Lowrie, while talented, has an injury history that could come to haunt him again this year. Expect to see Weeks this year in the green-and-gold.