The Oakland Athletics have had an outstanding April. They have an American League best 18-11 record, and they are in the top of a lot of stats categories for April, such as the best ERA in the American League, 4th in the league in runs scored, and the best run differential with 59 more runs scored by them than against them. Everything is going well, so why mess with the roster right? Here’s why. They can be even better.
There are a few moves that the Athletics should make to do even better and further secure themselves as the division champs for the third year in a row.
The first thing in the set of moves the Athletics should make can go two ways. The definite part of the move that should happen is to move Daric Barton down to Triple-A Sacramento. That opens up 2 possibilities. The team can either bring up Nate Freiman to replace Barton, or give the first base duties back to Brandon Moss, and platoon him with Alberto Callaspo. That would allow the team to bring up catcher Stephen Vogt, who should have been on the team since Opening Day.
That move would get rid of a weak spot in the lineup, and replace it with a better hitter. His replacements would be more than capable defensively, especially the towering Nate Freiman.
The next move the Athletics should begin to consider is to stretch Pomeranz out as a starter, and switch Pomeranz into the rotation to replace the inconsistent Dan Straily. There’s a lot of hate going around for Tommy Milone, but he has been decent. He’s a better pitcher than Straily at this point. Milone has lacked both offensive and defensive support, having some earned runs on his record that should have been marked as unearned. Straily is struggling big time with his command, especially with his fastball. While he may have a ton of potential, the team needs good pitchers now, not ones who aren’t doing as good as they can be. If it was one bad outing it would be understandable, but the Athletics can not afford to have two losses everytime the duo of Straily and Milone pitch, and replacing one with Pomeranz may be their best bet here.
The final move for the Athletics to consider is to look for help outside of the organization, in the pitching department. Eric O’Flaherty is well on his path to recovery, and he may just be the injection this bullpen needs to get stable after some very rocky performances. Everyone in the bullpen except Fernando Abad and Drew Pomeranz have had really bad outings where they allow more than just 1 run and are in the top 5 with most blown saves. It was supposed to be their strength, yet the bullpen has cost the Athletics around 3 or 4 games. This team could very well be sitting on a 21-8 record if not for blown saves. There was the third game of the season against the Indians where they have a 3 run lead erased. There was the game in Anaheim where the bullpen lost it in extra innings, and then there was the game that they blew with only one strike to go. But with O’Flaherty still a few weeks away from seeing any game action, the Athletics would be wise to look to sign an extra reliever or make a trade.
Overall, the teams 18-10 April was outstanding. But it could have been better. With the bullpen giving up 5 runs in the 7-1 loss to Boston, they are not off to the right start in May. Let’s hope they can turn things around, fix and tweak the team a little bit, and go on to have an even better May.