Spring training is approaching, but it can’t come soon enough for the Oakland Athletics, coming of another (yes, another) devastating postseason loss to Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers. In 2014, the Athletics will look to resume the success they had before facing the Tigers. It all starts in spring training.
Here’s how the Oakland Athletics spring training team could translate to opening day.
Players with Nothing to Play for:
1B Brandon Moss, SS Jed Lowrie, 3B Josh Donaldson, CF Coco Crisp, LF Yoenis Cespedes, RF Josh Reddick, SP Jarrod Parker, SP Scott Kazmir, RP Sean Doolittle, RP Ryan Cook, RP Dan Otero, RP Luke Gregerson, CL Jim Johnson
These are the players that are essentially locks to make the team come opening day. Even if they under-perform in spring training, past success and predicted future success will keep them in the first 25 players.
I would ordinarily put Scott Kazmir in the “players who should make the team” group but for the remarkably big paycheck the Oakland Athletics gave him. He hasn’t performed spectacularly over the past couple seasons, but with the A’s paying him so much, it would be almost impossible to see him anywhere but on the opening day roster.
Players who should Make the Team
Barring a meltdown in spring training, these guys will see their name on the opening day roster. Jaso would be a lock to make the team if his injury situation was a bit more favorable. He has been cleared to play catcher, but his injury history still concerns me.
One could make an argument that Sonny Gray should be a lock to make the team. However, we must remember that he still has not played a full season in the MLB. If he really struggles in spring training, he could find himself in the minors looking to get his confidence back.
Last spring training, Eric Sogard fought his way onto the team with astonishing performances. He may not need to do as much as he did a year ago, but he will still need to hit competently or risk beginning the season in Sacramento. With the signing of Nick Punto, the already deep infield positions, and the potential emergence of Addison Russell, there is a lot of competition for infield spots.
Others who could Make it
C Stephen Vogt, C Derek Norris, 1B Nate Freiman, 1B Daric Barton, SS Addison Russell, OF Michael Taylor, OF Billy Burns, SP Drew Pomeranz, SP Tommy Milone, RP Evan Scribner, RP Eric O’Flaherty, RP Josh Lindblom
Either Stephen Vogt or Derek Norris will catch some MLB games early in the season. It is even possible that both make it. Right now, I believe it is more likely that Norris finds a spot, however, Bob Melvin likes Vogt and may slot him into the roster as well.
I also find it likely that Nate Freiman will hit well enough to earn his spot on the team. He was an underrated asset for the Oakland Athletics last season and should contribute in 2014 as well. Billy Burns is an another interesting case. The A’s do not have amazing outfield depth and Melvin is excited to witness Burn’s electrifying speed. He is someone A’s fans need to keep their eyes on.
Milone and Scribner played for the A’s last season yet are not assured a spot in 2014. There much competition for pitching spots on the Athletics, which is just how A’s management likes it. The young talent of the A’s organization, Addison Russell, will likely have to wait until later in the season for big league action. But who knows? If he puts up monster numbers in spring training, which he is liable to do, management might give him a shot.
Spring Training Schedule (home games in BOLD, all home games at Phoenix Municipal Stadium unless noted, SS indicated split squad)
Wednesday, Feb. 26: San Francisco, 1:05 MST
Thursday, Feb. 27: Milwaukee, 1:05 MST
Friday, Feb. 28: San Francisco (SS), 1:05 p.m. MST
Saturday, March 1: Texas, 1:05 p.m. MST
Sunday, March 2: L.A. Angels, 1:05 p.m. MST
Monday, March 3: L.A. Dodgers, 1:05 p.m. MST
Tuesday, March 4: (SS) vs. Milwaukee, 1:05 p.m. MST
Tuesday, March 4: (SS) vs. Chicago Cubs, 1:05 p.m. MST
Wednesday, March 5: Milwaukee, 1:05 p.m. MST
Thursday, March 6: Arizona, 1:10 p.m. MST
Friday, March 7: Arizona, 1:05 p.m. MST
Saturday, March 8: Colorado, 1:10 p.m. MST
Sunday, March 9: Chicago White Sox, 1:05 p.m. MST
Monday, March 10: L.A. Dodgers, 1:05 p.m. MST
Tuesday, March 11: San Diego, 1:05 p.m. MST
Wednesday, March 12: Kansas City, 1:05 p.m. MST
Thursday, March 13: Colorado, 7:05 p.m. MST
Friday, March 14: Kansas City, 1:05 p.m. MST
Saturday, March 15: (SS) vs. Texas, 1:05 p.m. MST
Saturday, March 15: (SS) vs. San Francisco, 3:05 p.m. MST
Sunday, March 16: Cincinnati, 1:05 p.m. MST
Monday, March 17: Chicago Cubs, 1:05 p.m. MST
Tuesday, March 18: Chicago White Sox, 1:05 p.m. MST
Wednesday, March 19: Cleveland, 1:05 p.m. MST
Friday, March 21: San Francisco, 6:35 p.m. MST
Saturday, March 22: Seattle (SS), 1:05 p.m. MST
Sunday, March 23: SS vs. Chicago Cubs, 1:05 p.m. MST
Sunday, March 23: SS vs. Seattle, 1:05 p.m. MST
Monday, March 24: Texas, 1:05 p.m.
Tuesday, March 25: Cincinnati, 1:05 p.m. MST
Wednesday, March 26: L.A. Angels, 12:05 p.m. MST
Thursday, March 27: San Francisco (at AT&T Park), 7:15 p.m. PDT
Friday, March 28: San Francisco (at AT&T Park), 7:15 p.m. PDT
Saturday, March 29: San Francisco (at O.co Coliseum), 1:05 p.m. PDT