After 18 days into the 2014 season it’s apparent that the Alberto Callaspo first base experiment should be terminated.
Facing left hander Tyler Skaggs, the platoon-crazed A’s used Callaspo and his hot bat as their starting first baseman against the Angels on Wednesday, April 16. It was Callaspo’s second start at this new position.
In the sixth inning, he dropped a sure double-play throw from Eric Sogard allowing David Freese to reach base. The A’s did get out of the inning with the following batter, Raul Ibanez hitting into a double play. With runners aboard in the seventh, Callaspo made a throwing error to second base on a J.B. Shuck grounder where an experienced first baseman would have taken the out and ran to the base.
In his debut at first base on April 3 against the Mariners, Callaspo, ala Bill Buckner, misplayed a grounder allowing Abraham Almonte to reach base. Almonte later scored on a ground out that would have been the end of the inning.
Allowing unnecessary runners to get on base is something the A’s can’t afford, especially since both the games were close contests.
Callaspo is an experienced infielder, but his fielding at first base is questionable and dicey for a player at a key putout position. He would be better used at second in place of a .194 hitting Sogard or as a regular designated hitter.
So what to do A’s fans for a right-handed first sacker?
Last year’s rookie Nate Freiman is batting .268 in 13 games for the AAA Sacramento River Cats and would be a likely call up. There would be no loss in designating for assignment backup Daric Barton whose contribution to the team for 2014 is a whopping .077 with two singles. With his base running blunder on opening night combined with his fielding gaffe last week in what turned out to be another close loss, his value to the team is severely questionable.
Having a truly right handed hitting first baseman would give Manager Bob Melvin the ability to plug-in a replacement for regular first baseman Brandon Moss on games when the A’s face an overpowering leftie, or in late innings, without having to jeopardize fielding or performance at the plate.