Yesterday’s 8-0 season-reason rout over the Seattle Mariners, offered little more than a final tune-up for the Oakland Athletics before postseason play. Managing the game with his players stats in his mind, Bob Melvin made good use of the innings to rest his starters, unleashing his bench in a meaningless game.
However, the game did not conclude without a concrete point of interest. With the game in hand, Melvin sent catcher Derek Norris into the field to play first base. Now, there was no emergency situation that dictated such a move. Daric Barton was fine, so was Brandon Moss, and Nate Freiman was recovered enough from his oblique injury to pinch-hit in the game on Saturday.
So what does it all mean?
As detailed by Susan Slusser, there’s a healthy amount of speculation that the Athletics will carry three catchers on the active roster for the ALDS. Now, there’s been no official word released and with Melvin set to meet with Billy Beane and the Athletics brass on Monday in Oakland, it’s stands to reason that anything is possible.
One would have to think that if Oakland were to keep Norris, Kurt Suzuki, and Stephen Vogt active for the series, than a roster spot must be sacrificed from the first base firm of Moss, Barton, and Freiman. Brandon Moss can obviously can be considered a lock, and Barton has essentially played himself onto the roster with a strong string of play since returning from Sacramento. Using a smidgeon of mathematics, it doesn’t take a genius to show that Nate Freiman would be the logical choice to be the odd man out.
Now that Detroit is aligning their arsenal of right-hander starting pitching, the opportunity for Freiman to contribute against his usual platter of left-handed pitching just won’t be there. For reference, it’s easy to recall that Chris Carter and Jonny Gomes were rendered useless by inactivity in last season’s matchup for the very same reason.
With Vogt starting against righty’s, and Norris an option off the bench as pinch-hitter and first baseman if necessary, the opportunity to carry Kurt Suzuki suddenly comes into play. Before the notion of a third catcher is scoffed at, please remember the difficulties of Oakland catchers blocking balls during the 2012 ALDS as well. In effort to learn from their mistakes, utilizing their best defensive catcher in Suzuki as a late inning replacement to corral the slider of Ryan Cook may just be the difference in a win or loss.
So for now, Derek Norris grabs his glove and heads into uncharted territories in the month of October. The move may seem risky, but that’s Oakland Athletics baseball. After all, there’s no rest for the wicked.