By Jason Wojciechowski on April 17, 2012 at 3:45 PM
(Tyson Ross and Neil Wagner called up from AAA to Oakland; Collin Cowgill and Andrew Carignan optioned from Oakland to Sacramento.)
The Time of the Fifth Starter has arrived, and the reaping must occur. The Tribute from District Oakland was obvious to most of us all along, protestations that massive first baseman Kila Ka'aihue might be on the block to one side: Collin Cowgill, who has managed exactly seven plate appearances in the A's first eleven games, was sent out to Sacramento to battle for his life. It's not a statement on his abilities right now -- he was just an extra guy who was bound to start in AAA all along, except that the vagaries of the early-season schedule allowed the A's to carry him for a little while in place of a twelfth pitcher.
The weird thing for Cowgill is that the Sacramento roster is pretty stacked, at least in terms of players you expect to play every day, whether they're huge prospects or not. Grant Green, Jermaine Mitchell, and Michael Taylor are all guys who are hanging on to some semblance of prospect status (and some still have legitimate belief in Green), and Jeff Fiorentino and Brandon Moss are Extra Guys who could end up in the majors if there's some sort of emergency or hantavirus outbreak, so you probably want to keep them fresh. There's always the D.H., but with Chris Carter, Wes Timmons, Stephen Parker, and Adam Rosales all pinging around the infield, any time you want to get Brandon Hicks into the lineup, you're pushing someone off the field already. Add to that the possibility that you might want to D.H. Derek Norris sometimes to keep his bat active even when he gets the day off from catching and you've basically got a full roster of guys who the A's would like to see stay fresh, some of whom really ought to be playing every day as a development matter (I'd put Carter, Norris, Cowgill, and Green in that category, and you can feel free to toss in Mitchell and Taylor if you want, but you're a more optimistic person than me).
All of which is really just to say that Darren Bush has his hands full in terms of juggling everybody. I hope he's handy with a spreadsheet.
The rest of this is just that Tyson Ross is coming up to pitch tonight against the Angels after throwing nine innings across two starts in AAA, walking three and striking out four. One could ask to see a few more whiffs from someone who's supposedly over-qualified for the level, but it's nine innings, so I'll just note that PECOTA doesn't see much in Ross -- a 4.45 weighted-mean projected ERA in Oakland isn't anything to bring home to your friends in Berkeley.
The swap of random right-handed relievers is nearly beneath your attention, though if you want to talk about dominating a level that you should, how about Neil Wagner's eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 Sacramento innings? He's not a prospect, but he is 28, so if he's a major-leaguer, this is what he's supposed to do. (On the other hand, he's given up six hits in that time, leading to three runs, which is not what he's supposed to do, but when you're talking about balls in play to a defense featuring guys like Chris Carter and Grant Green still learning his way, you're in a situation where you can't go making judgments about how a guy has pitched without actually watching him pitch. Coincidentally, the A's have a whole host of dudes on payroll who have watched Wagner pitch.)