By Jason Wojciechowski on February 21, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Here in the early days of spring, before my favorite players start getting cut, before Bob Melvin's comments start making it clear that the scenarios I'm interested in aren't going to come to pass, and before anyone gets hurt, I can still dream that the way I'd construct Oakland's roster has a snowball's chance in Phoenix of happening. Here, then.
1B: Daric Barton. Barton suffered through a horrendous 2011, but until further notice, I'm throwing that out and letting him flash his unique (on the A's) blend of on-base ability and defense.
2B: Jemile Weeks. There isn't really any other option, not that I'd choose those other options even if they did exist.
SS: Cliff Pennington. See Jemile Weeks.
3B: Scott Sizemore. I guess Josh Donaldson is theoretically an option here, but Sizemore hit so well in 2011 and, despite poor numbers by FRAA, didn't look entirely lost on defense while learning a new position. There's a chance he can be an under-the-radar asset relative to his salary and notoriety for the next few years.
LF: Seth Smith, with Jonny Gomes getting starts against the toughest lefties. There's still an outside chance that Smith could figure it out against most lefties, so I'd let him play most of the time. He'll probably be eminently forgettable, but that's different from being bad.
CF: Yoenis Cespedes. Let him show that he can't handle the spot before you kick him out. I don't see any reason not to let him take his lumps in the big leagues, either.
RF: Josh Reddick. Besides Cespedes, there might not be a player I'm more excited to watch this year than Reddick, and I hope he's a full-timer in right. Maybe I'm friends with too many stat-nerd Boston fans, but I'm a sight-unseen believer.
C: Kurt Suzuki, though I'd probably be aggressive late in the year about exploring the trade market for him as long as Derek Norris keeps hitting in the minor leagues. I wouldn't necessarily bring up Norris right away (Anthony Recker or whoever you like can cover the spot for two months), but assuming the A's are out of it, Suzuki could fetch a price from someone whose catcher is hurt or who wants a perceived upgrade.
DH: Chris Carter. I still think that if you gave him 600 PAs, he'd be the best hitter on the team. He'd whiff a lot, which, as with Jack Cust, would lead to fans bitching and moaning about how awful he is, but he'd be good despite all that.
Bench 1: Anthony Recker. I flipped a coin between him and Josh Donaldson. I have no reason to care one way or the other. I would prefer not to mess around with Landon Powell because maneuvering him onto the 40-man could get annoying, but absent roster considerations, I'd be agnostic between all three just as I am between Recker and Donaldson as it is.
Bench 2: Eric Sogard. I think he's more likely than Adam Rosales to be an asset for three games at a time when an infielder is hurt but not hurt enough to go on the Disabled List.
Bench 3: Jonny Gomes. He's half-platooning with Seth Smith, so he has to be here.
Bench 4: Coco Crisp. Fourth outfielder extraordinaire. I'd have him in center whenever he played, shifting Cespedes and Reddick to right and left as needed.
Bench 5: Brandon Allen. This is cheating -- the A's will carry twelve pitchers like every other team in the league, so there will only be four bench position players. But like I said, it's spring and hope blooms. Allen is out of options, and he might be able to hit, and he's opposite-handed from Chris Carter, so here he is.
SP1: Brandon McCarthy. Hey look, just like real life.
SP2: Bartolo Colon. Id.
SP3: Dallas Braden. I would do as Susan Slusser noted and not have him pitch until mid-April, thus using him as the "fifth starter," but those numbers don't matter much. (This would, by the way, free me to have a 10-man pitching staff to start the year, allowing me to carry Kila Ka'aihue for a few weeks and see if someone gets hurt, allowing me to keep him when Braden is ready to come back.)
SP4: Tom Milone. I can't wait to watch this guy. Soft-tossing lefties are the best. I have high hopes for a starting rotation that allows the fewest walks in the majors.
SP5: Tyson Ross. I'd force the actually talented pitchers (Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock) to push their way up by dominating AAA and have Ross pitch as essentially a placeholder with upside. I don't have a lot of belief in Ross in general (his command bugs me), but I'd rather see him than Graham Godfrey in this spot.
RP1: Grant Balfour. I'd use Balfour as the stopper, pitching in the 7th through 9th as needed, sometimes protecting a one-run lead, sometimes in a tied game, sometimes down by two. If the game is tight, Balfour's my man.
RP2: Joey Devine. I want to ride Devine until he breaks again. He's fun to watch and has a legit arm.
RP3: Brian Fuentes. In a role with lower leverage than Balfour and Define, there's a chance Fuentes might not drive me mad.
RP4: Fautino De Los Santos. I don't think The Mormon is as automatic as some fans seem to believe, but he's good enough to be a useful reliever.
RP5: Jerry Blevins. He can still be useful.
RP6: Andrew Carignan. I flipped a coin between him and Ryan Cook. Let's be honest: we're talking about the 25th spot on the 25-man roster. Even in my pretend world where I'm planning out every detail, I know this spot will be up in the air all year, subject to injury and performance and trades and all sorts of factors.