Slap Hitter: A's Spring Late Surprise



A dismal spring training ended today, after a thorough beat down from the San Francisco Giants at our own home ball park. Don't let the 10-6 score fool ya, we were down 10 nil until the late eighth. Our genial postgame radio host Robert Buan just got sacked and the few pitchers who aren't injured have had one horrible start apiece (Opening Day starter Ben Sheets giving up 10 runs without getting an out). Today however might have been the most hopeful news since pitchers and catchers reported. The A's did a big spring cleaning, and open the season Monday with a bunch of new faces.

The roster includes young Cal alum, Tyson Ross, who breaks camp with the big club skipping right over Triple A Sacramento, Travis Buck who everybody thought had a one-way ticket to the capital city when March began, and now the starting left fielder. The battle for fifth starter ended with a main candidate, Trevor Cahill pitching his way off the roster entirely. And most amazingly, Designated Strikeout Looking, Jack Cust is being designated for assignment. Translated—he's gone.

The sweep of the moves, leaves a lot of questions. Adam Cardenas as infield insurance? Eric Chavez as DH? Jake Fox as Kurt Suzuki's caddy? Eric Patterson as backup everything? But so much better to have doubt than Cust at cleanup at this point. The dispiriting display of offense is going to be a 2010 hallmark, but better that than a number-four hitter where rallies go to die.

I like the A's pulling the trigger here. We have nowhere to go but up, unless they add another team to our division this summer. It's like the A's threw in a hand with a King-high, knowing that a fresh deal probably won't win us many more chips, but holding onto what we had wasn't about to win us anything but a few antes anyway.

Case in point, today's starter and newly minted rotation member, Gio Gonzalez who holds out the possibility of a 2-hit shutout or a three inning walk-the-ballpark effort. Which is still better than last year's model, who was going to steadily give up five runs every five innings every five days. I'm willing to take a chance, and to my delight, it looks as if the A's are too.