Transactions: Cowgill, Taylor, Carignan, Miller

By Jason Wojciechowski on May 12, 2012 at 3:40 PM

I'm a day late on this call-up/send-down pair of moves, and I'm well more than a dollar short in life in general, but transactions never die, they just fade away. So before this one fades:

The reported reason for Collin Cowgill coming up and Michael Taylor going back to Sacramento was that Bob Melvin wanted a more legit center-fielder on the roster than he had with Reddick-Smith-Gomes-Taylor as his healthy pasture-men. Josh Reddick can probably play a semi-competent center overall -- if I had to guess,1 I'd figure he's at least as good as Cespedes up the middle. Their arms are comparable, their outfield speed seems similar, and, if anything, Reddick seems to get better jumps. That said, I think it's no coincidence that Melvin asked for this move to be made on the day after Reddick was victimized by a knuckling line drive to center that dove a different direction than he expected, leading to extra bases for the Tigers.

What's interesting is that instead of calling up Jermaine Mitchell, who is arguably the most legit center-fielder on the 40-man roster outside of Coco Crisp, Billy Beane reached for Cowgill, a guy who has carried the "tweener" label for a while: he'll hit enough for center, but it's not clear whether his glove can handle it.

There are two ways of looking at this. One is that the A's are seeing what they have in Cowgill, having long ago decided that Josh Reddick, while perhaps being able to handle center in a pinch, is a right-fielder in the short, middle, and long terms. The other is that the A's have already made the determination that Cowgill can play center, and Melvin's "I want a center-fielder" is the 100% face-value reason for calling him up. I'm not sure I can cite any facts pointing one way or the other. I suppose we could give the A's the benefit of the doubt, in a sense, and take them at their word when they say things, but, c'mon, this is professional sports. Forget about figuring out when management is telling the truth -- I don't even know what truth is.

You're allowed to feel bad for Michael Taylor, who got exactly sixteen plate appearances. He looked alternately solid and terrible in them -- he hit the ball hard a few times, but he also appeared completely baffled by off-speed stuff, particularly change-ups, helping him end up with seven strikeouts in those sixteen trips. That the A's were willing to send him down in order to get a "real" center-fielder on the roster might be the clearest sign yet that they've given up hope that he's anything other than a 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th outfielder. It's a sad fall for Taylor, given his stellar hitting from 2008-2010 at A through AAA levels. But hey, a Stanford kid who's apparently never going to live up to his promise? The A's might do well to keep him around as long as they can -- if he's on their roster when he decides to hang 'em up, maybe they can get first crack at turning him into the next Billy Beane.

Jim Miller for Andrew Carignan is just resource alignment in the depths of the bullpen. Miller threw 59 pitches combined on May 9th and 10th while Carginan's been striking dudes out in stints lasting from three to eight hitters for the last three weeks in Sacramento -- 17 strikeouts in 39 batters faced is a hell of a lot, especially when it's paired with one walk and no homers. He showed what he needed to show to come back up, in other words, and with Miller likely needing at least a day, and maybe two, to recover, well, why not let him do it in Sacramento. This is the 8, 9, 10, or even 11-man bullpen that has developed as the rosters of the AAA and major-league teams have effectively fused in the last N years (determination of N being left as an exercise for the reader). No point wasting a spot in the majors on a guy who can't help you tonight.

Of course, Carignan promptly walked two and gave up two hits against the Tigers yesterday, so maybe there's something about his wildness that works against the 35-year-olds hanging on for dear life in the PCL that doesn't in the majors. Or maybe it was just a game.

  1. I do. I'm a blogger.