This is the first of a multi-part series, where I explore some of the more pressing issues facing the Oakland Athletics. Strap in and hold on, while I attempt to evaluate if the A’s need to make any personnel changes.
When life is going great, you can’t help but hope to freeze time. It could relate to anything from your romantic endeavors to your last vacation. Regardless, everyone want to stay in that moment of time where it all makes sense, and everything seems right in the world. The harsh reality is that this is made impossible, by the constant of change that comes with the elapsing of time. The passing of which causes moments to end, and people and situations to change. This can also work reverse. Tough times never last, and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s simply a balance. Without hitting you with every cliche in the book, let me just say that there are calls for change nearly every time the Athletics go through a rough stretch. It’s simply the nature of the game.
Now it may be premature to call a two-game losing streak a rough stretch, the fact remains that there are many glaring issues circulating around the 2013 team. Looking no further than the dark underbelly of social media, I’ve found a number of topics, concerns, comments and suggestions that I believe were in need of deconstruction. Without further adieu, here are a few that are worthy of note.
1. Eric Sogard had an amazing spring training, everyone loves him and he deserves to start.
Where to begin. First and foremost, it’s easy to understand the appeal of the former ASU Sun Devil. The bespectacled infielder has endeared himself with his hustle, fan friendly persona, and underdog status due to his size and skills. However, the reality is that he may not be built for anything more than a bench role on a Major League team. Hitting just a paltry .231/.294/.282, Sogard has provided little in the form of offense while splitting time with Adam Rosales and Andy Parrino. Often times he’s appeared lost, and has inadvertently swung early in the count at a pitchers pitch only to feebly ground out or loft a lazy fly ball. Defensively he’s surprised me with his range at second, making a series of highlight-level plays early in the season. Today’s throwing miscue contributed to the only run scoring during Tuesday night’s game, but to his credit this was just his second error of the young season. The season ending injury to Scott Sizemore may have saved his spot on the team for the time being, but if Hiroyuki Nakajima, Jemile Weeks, or Grant Green knock the door down, Sogard will find himself back in Sacramento or on the bench much to the chagrin of nerd lovers everywhere.
2. Eric Sogard is terrible offensively and defensively.
It’s easy to be reactive and jump to conclusions when an A’s player fails to perform to our expectations. I’m as guilty of this sin as anyone else. It’s frustration and anger boiling to the surface, and the need to nominate a scapegoat begins to cloud our thoughts. It’s a completely reactive response. Now, Eric Sogard is not a terrible major leaguer by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve watched terrible ballplayers come through here before, and I can confidently say that he is heads and shoulders above such luminaries as Kurt Abbott, Scott Hemond, and Jack Voigt. That’s not to say, I want to hand him the keys to second base for the next decade. Sogard has his flaws and limitations, and as 27-year old infielder whose never played a full season in the show, he’s probably not capable of growing into an above average player in this lifetime. Despite being amongst the defensive leaders in the American League in range factor, Sogard is largely underrated defensively though it’s not enough the support the argument that he should start. Until he regains the form, that watched him spray line drives all over the Cactus League he’s best being left at the bottom of the order and playing sparingly. In my opinion, he’s suited as utility infielder who is capable of filling in at a variety of positions with the occasional start to give a regular a day off. What I want to avoid is any stretches of extended play where he becomes exposed, and I’d rather not ever see him come off the bench to pinch-hit in a key situation such as last weeks finale against the Angels.
Two opposite sides of the spectrum, both spawned out of irrational love or dislike for the incumbent second baseman. Nevertheless, the idea to replace Sogard as a regular player is sound though completely banishing him off the big league club may be a bit excessive. With his versatility and defensive prowess he still holds value, but playing everyday leaves him exposed. I do believe that the moral of the story is to never fall in love with a bench player, they’ll only break your heart.