By Jason Wojciechowski on May 8, 2013 at 9:35 PM
Josh Reddick's wrist is going to cause him to miss enough time that the A's made a roster move today, calling up Daric Barton from Sacramento. Reddick apparently doesn't need all 15 days, but isn't going to miss only a game or two, either, leaving the A's in that limbo where they could have a 24-man roster for a week. Rather than live with that, Billy Beane filled Bob Melvin's bench.
Daric Barton, as you may recall, was removed from the 40-man roster a ways back, so the A's had another move to make to add him. Faced with another opportunity to designated Jesse Chavez for assignment, Beane decided instead to flat-out cut Jordan Norberto. Readers of the blog will know I'm not the biggest Norberto fan, mainly due to my bias against guys who can't throw strikes. Still, the lefty averages better than 93 mph from the left side with his fastball and whiffed 46 in 52 innings in the bigs in 2012. Unfortunately, since August of last year he's been dealing with arm injuries and he's pitched just 1 1/3 innings in 2013, with his last appearance coming on April 10th.
All of this means that you might think the A's could have waived Norberto, hoped he went unclaimed because of his injuries, and kept him in the organization. And in fact there's talk that the team might try to re-sign him to a minor-league contract now that he's been released. But the word, both from Susan Slusser on Twitter and via email from Bob Rose, A's press maven, is that you cannot request waivers on an injured player. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to figure out where this rule comes from after a quick look at both the Major League Rules and the Collective Bargaining Agreement. There are rules about designating for assignment players on the Major League Disabled List, but unless I'm missing something, Norberto wasn't on that list, because why would he be? He was optioned to the minors, then got hurt—there's no need to clear a 25-man roster spot because he's not on the 25-man roster.
I don't disbelieve Slusser and Rose, by the way, and the fact that the A's appear to want to keep Norberto supports the theory that they didn't actually want to release him—I'm basically just begging for help. Can anyone find any textual support for the rule that you can't request waivers on an injured minor-league player?
With that out of the way, and noting that Daric Barton was the starting first baseman tonight against the extremely right-handed Justin Masterson, and further noting that he walked in his first trip to the plate and then made a fine defensive play that was nearly a double play in his first chance in the field, here's what I guess the lineup looks like now:
Tonight's lineup did not look like this, with Jed Lowrie at designated hitter and Eric Sogard at second, but if this roster were the A's roster for more than the next 10 days or however long it takes for Chris Young to get back and push Luke Montz or Michael Taylor back to the minors, I'd expect the above to be the basic lineup from which various variations arise.
I could be overrating Montz's place on the team, but it strikes me as entirely pointless to have Montz, Freiman, Moss, and Barton all on the squad if Montz isn't going to play sometimes. The above basic lineups have the virtue of making all 13 position players starters. Assuming that is a virtue.
It does, by the way, since I mentioned it, sound like Young will be the first back from the disabled list, as he's a tad ahead of Coco Crisp. I think he'll replace Taylor directly as it's not clear when Taylor would ever play once Young is back. Montz at least still has notional value in that case as a backup catcher when Jaso is DHing. I suppose in theory we could see Hiroyuki Nakajima make an appearance, but that likely depends on Bob Melvin's comfort with not having a backup infielder on the nights that Lowrie DHes versus not having a backup catcher on the nights that Jaso DHes. If Jaso is the default DH against righties, as I have him above, it probably makes sense to keep Montz around. Lowrie, by contrast, is presumably an occasional DH, not the default.
Now I might be mixing predictions of the A's approach with my own predilections and hopes, but that's always been more or less my mode around here, so why change now?
What do the A's do if Jarrod Parker goes on the DL, something Bob Melvin has said isn't likely to happen but about which really youneverknow? Susan Slusser tweeted that she heard that Sonny Gray is the favorite to replace Parker, which is interesting because Andrew Werner is a starting pitcher (eight starts for San Diego last year, seven for Sacramento this year, no relief appearances in his career) is already on the 40-man roster, though his 8.54 ERA might be giving the A's pause. Having to make another 40-man move with Norberto already gone could prove tough.
That said, perhaps Jesse Chavez's time would be up if Gray were to be his replacement. You can understand the A's unease with cutting Chavez for the sake of Barton—if a reliever were to get hurt, they'd be left with Werner, Pedro Figueroa (7.62 ERA himself), or ... well, no, it's just those two pitching at Triple-A and on the 40-man roster. I'm a Michael Ynoa fan, but I don't think he's ready.
But if you're adding Gray to the 40, then dumping Chavez leaves you where you started, rather than short an emergency reliever, assuming, of course, that Parker were only hurt for a short time and that Gray would go back to the minors thereafter.
I don't have strong feelings about Chavez, so I don't think he needs to go so much as I think it's weird that he's survived this long and figure there's no way he'll last the year on the roster given Mike Ekstrom and Hideki Okajima and Gray and Bruce Billings and even Danny Otero all waiting around in Sacramento for a shot and none on the 40-man roster. At least if he's removed for Gray, Chavez can say he was booted by a legit prospect.