Oakland Athletics: Can Jamb Lamb save the restructured infield?

The Oakland Athletics have signed Jake Lamb to replace the injured Matt Chapman.

The Oakland Athletics‘ championship aspirations were dealt a potentially crippling blow in the form of a recent injury to superstar third baseman Matt Chapman.

A torn hip labrum will preemptively end the All-Star’s season and leave the postseason bound A’s without their best player. The team recently announced the signing of former All-Star Jake Lamb to help fill this critical void.

The A’s also has the benefit of newly-acquired utility man Tommy La Stella, who Oakland added at the trade deadline, as well as veteran Chad Pinder, as reinforcements. Here’s how the pieces could fit together.

The Oakland Athletics’ newcomer

Lamb is a welcome sight for a desperately thin A’s infield. Chapman is out for the season, Pinder was recently added to the 10-day injury list, and La Stella is manning the position of everyday second baseman.

That leaves a totally unproven Vimael Machin as the only remaining option. This could spell disaster in the bright lights of the playoffs.

Lamb’s availability as a free agent is a clear indication that he is not longer an All-Star level player. In fact, his batting averages of .222 in 2018, .193 in 2019, and .116 over 43 at-bats in 2020 led to his tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks coming to an end.

However, the seven-year veteran is seasoned at the major-league level. There is no way any replacement-level player will be able to match the elite offense and all-world defensive production of Chapman.

But, considering the options, Lamb is as good a fill-in as the team could have hoped for at this point in the season.

The Hope

Lamb was a streaky defender during his time in Arizona. But he did show complete seasons of competent glove work.  Most recently, he produced a -0.8 sefensive WAR, with his last good season coming in 2018 (1.5 D-WAR).

The A’s can make this level of production work.

For everything that has gone wrong for Lamb as a batter, he does offer modest upside. Things clearly went south in a hurry over the past few seasons. But he is a former All-Star and he will be given his first opportunity to play outside of Arizona.

How many times have we seen an athlete benefit from a change in scenery? Considering the fact that Lamb is still just 29-years-old, there is reason to believe he could rebound.

The manner in which the veteran will be judged has also never been lower. No one will be relying on him to carry the offense or defense.

If he can muster league-average glove work at the hot corner, while occasionally chipping in with his bat, he will have done his job well. Oakland doesn’t need a superstar. They need an average talent who won’t actively mess things up.

The Oakland Athletics’ lineup

While the Chapman injury is heartbreaking to baseball fans in the Bay Area, the Athletics’ lineup is still dangerous. If I were manager Bob Melvin, my standard lineup card would be as follows:

  • 1B: Matt Olson
  • 2B: Tommy La Stella
  • 3B: Jake Lamb
  • SS: Marcus Semien
  • LF: Robbie Grossman
  • CF: Ramon Laureano
  • RF: Stephen Piscotty
  • DH: Mark Canha

This also leaves Pinder as a fill-in option or as an emergency starter in the event that the Lamb experiment crashes and burns. The team will just have to wait until he comes off the IL.

It will also leave Canha as a fourth outfielder in the event that the team needs to make additional lineup changes.

Next: Oakland Athletics: Matt Chapman out for the season, will undergo surgery

Add in the team’s stable of young pitchers and a lights-out bullpen, and the Oakland Athletics’ hopes of postseason success are still very much alive.

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