By Jason Wojciechowski on May 29, 2012 at 11:40 AM
While I was off watching minor-league baseball in Fresno and Bakersfield (and catching foul balls, and winning free tickets by throwing harder than anyone else in my age class), the A's were making roster moves and playing games. I haven't caught up yet on the games, but here are the moves.
First, on Sunday, the A's sent down Graham Godfrey and called up reliever Andrew Carignan, thus putting the team at four starters and eight relievers for the nonce. Travis Blackley started Monday's game in what would have been Godfrey's rotation spot, and it appears that the goal is to have Brandon McCarthy ready to go on Saturday, the next day the Blackley/Godfrey/whoever slot will come up. Were McCarthy to have a setback, the story would change, but I imagine it wouldn't change that much -- Brad Peacock has been having some balls-in-play issues (though one can ask about Sacramento's defense and the PCL's effect on that) so I'd guess we'll just see Blackley again if McCarthy can't go. Anyway, let's cross the setback bridge when we reach it.
Carignan is just Carignan. Eight walks and four strikeouts in 31 batters faced hasn't been getting the job done, however small a sample 31 batters is. He only appeared twice in Sacramento since the last time he was sent down, getting two strikeouts and three ground-outs against Albuquerque, but giving up three hits (albeit with two strikeouts) in an inning against Round Rock. I don't think we'll be seeing Carignan in any high-leverage situations for the A's, even as high-leverage is a relative term. The games may be on the line, but the season isn't.
Yesterday, Brandon Inge was activated from the Disabled List, leaving the A's with a roster decision to make. Inge will be the starter, pushing Josh Donaldson either to the bench or to AAA. If he was going to stick, it would have to be at the expense of Anthony Recker, Adam Rosales, or Collin Cowgill. (Jonny Gomes isn't going anywhere.) If the A's sent down Rosales, there would be no legitimate infielder on the roster, leaving the A's in a tough spot if Jemile Weeks or Cliff Pennington were to get hurt mid-game. (In a day-to-day injury situation, where they couldn't recall Rosales but Weeks also was not able to play, Eric Sogard is always available.) They could send down Cowgill, leaving them with four outfielders and Josh Reddick serving as the emergency center-fielder in case Coco Crisp got hurt. (Parallel to the last parenthetical, the A's could call up Jermaine Mitchell to cover center in a pinch rather than rely on Reddick there were Crisp to be hurt enough to miss a day but not hurt enough to put on the DL.)
What the A's did, as you already know, is send down Anthony Recker, who had four hits and four walks in 37 PA on the season, leaving Josh Donaldson as the backup catcher, the position everyone thought he'd be in when the year started. (Or the position we thought he'd be competing for with Recker, anyway. Looks like he won.) Donaldson still has an overall line that contains an OBP beginning with a "1", and it's not like that's all dragged down by his early-season struggles. From May 13th to present, the period he spent covering for Inge, Donaldson hit .180/.176/.340. He popped a homer and five doubles, but he also did not earn a single walk in 51 PAs, which makes sense: if he can't hit at all, why throw him balls?
Nobody seems to know (and by "nobody" I mean "I checked David Wishinsky's blog and he didn't know, so I figure nobody does") why Neil Wagner was placed on waivers. Inge was coming back from the 15-day DL, so he never left the 40-man roster. Nor is it clear that this was performance-related -- Wagner had a 5.49 ERA in AAA, sure, and he'd allowed 20 hits in 19 2/3 innings, but he'd also struck out 24 and walked just six with only one homer allowed, so it seems like he might have some promise.
Today brings, perhaps, some clarity, as Sean Doolittle was promoted to Sacramento. If it was just a matter of clearing room in Sacramento, it isn't clear why the team didn't just demote someone. Wagner, if you like, or Trey Barham, who's 26 and has poor numbers so far this season.
It isn't any big thing. Wagner is likely a replacement-level reliever, and he's off to ply his trade in the little fishing village where the Padres play. Oakland is unlikely to be any worse off for this "loss."