A's Digital Mailbag: 6-man rotation, Rollins at SS?

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A's Digital Mailbag: 6-man rotation, Rollins at SS?

Time again for the A's Digital Mailbag! In addition to my Monday Chat, the Digital Mailbag allows me to answer your questions in more than 140 characters! Speaking of Twitter, we'll begin with questions from there.Twitter@CaseyPrattCSN What would be your thoughts if the A's do not make a move? Sniffard (@Sniff009) July 27, 2012CP: I've been saying since the beginning of trade rumor season that it would make sense for the A's not to make a move. If it ain't broke don't fix it. The people that looked like they could be used as trade bait are all integral parts of the team now. Coco Crisp is peaking, Bartolo Colon is a stable force in the A's rotation, and Grant Balfour hasn't allowed a run in his last eight games. The A's are in contention now, so I don't see a move involving a current Oakland player realistic. You'd have to look at the farm for trade options. The A's can obviously improve at shortstop, especially with Cliff Pennington injured. I don't think replacing Brandon Inge with another third baseman is a wise move. Inge is an integral part of that clubhouse chemistry you are hearing about now. He has also played good defense and is surprisingly productive at the plate. His 46 RBIs with the A's rank him third on the team only behind Josh Reddick (49) and Yoenis Cespedes (50). @CaseyPrattCSN What prospects do you think Beane meant when he said.untouchable? MIGUEL MENDOZA (@OaklandBound10) July 27, 2012CP: I think the general manager wasn't just referring to prospects when he was talking about "untouchable" players. In saying for the first time he sees a lot of players as untouchable, he was likely referring to the surprisingly successful and cost controlled players he possesses. Here's a short list of who I believe are untouchable and why: Josh Reddick is making 485,000 and isn't a free agent until 2017. Yoenis Cespedes is signed through 2015. Jemile Weeks flashed signs of brilliance in his rookie season and was already labeled untouchable. Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook are all rookies that have vastly exceeded any worldly expectations. As rookies they are all under team control for a long time at a low price. In the Minor Leagues I'd guess anyone could be moved for the right return, but Dan Straily has become an elite trade chip. The team's surprising success makes a lot or players that I didn't list unlikely to go anywhere. @CaseyPrattCSN with the A's recent success and possibility of the future being now do you see potential for some big signings this winter? Rick Valdez (@rickvaldezmusic) July 27, 2012CP: The A's payroll is around 52M. It was as high as 67M in 2011, and 79M in 2007. The ownership has stated they have payroll flexibility. With money being less of an obstacle, and the team proving to be a contender, it will be much easier to convince a player to come here. They still have the ongoing issues that the Coliseum presents, but money talks and players want to be a part of a winning team. With the young talented nucleus the A's possess, Oakland might prove to be a tempting destination. Besides, who wouldn't want to live in the Bay Area? @CaseyPrattCSN if the A's do make a trade are they likely to give up a lot for any player? Sylvester Valderrama (@SLYBOY_22) July 27, 2012CP: It all depends on the player. All reports indicated the A's were willing to part with much more than the Dodgers were for Hanley Ramirez. Except LA decided to eat his contract and the Marlins did what was best for their pocketbooks, rather than what was best for their franchise. The A's have some attractive prospects and an incredible wealth of pitching. It all depends on who becomes available and what the asking price will be. Based on how the A's are playing with the current roster, I don't think it would be too wise to give up a lot to go for it now. They could go for it with what they have. Think about how well it worked out when they shipped off Carlos Gonzalez as part of a package for Matt Holliday, or when they shipped Andre Ethier as part of the Milton Bradley trade. @CaseyPrattCSN Who you got dropping out of this current starting rotation when Anderson and McCarthy get healthy? Jorge Alonzo (@J_A_Alonzo83) July 26, 2012CP: I think the A's would be wise to wait until the absolute last minute to make that decision. No need to rush Brett Anderson or Brandon McCarthy. Every pitcher in the rotation has proven they deserve a spot. Only when Anderson or McCarthy are absolutely knocking down the door will it is time to decide. You'd have to start with the back of the rotation. Travis Blackley could still be extremely effective as a long reliever. When he first came to the A's he began in the the bullpen and pitched very well there. He has proven he can get it done in the rotation though. It would be difficult to move him out. A.J. Griffin has yet to allow more than three runs in a start this season, it would be tough to remove him from the rotation. This of course segues nicely into the next question @CaseyPrattCSN I expect the A's to make room for Straily in the rotation. How will they do it? Trade Colon? 6-man rotation? Someone to pen? Brad Hill (@CaliforniaJag) July 27, 2012CP: The A's would be wise to consider a six-man rotation. A's manager Bob Melvin said the team has yet to fully discuss that though. The six-man rotation could limit the innings of rookies Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone and keep 39-year-old Bartolo Colon fresh. If Brandon McCarthy returns it might also give the A's a chance to give him extra rest, something that has really benefitted him this season. If they do go that direction I don't see it happening as a means to get Dan Straily into the rotation, it will likely be a way to get Brett Anderson or McCarthy in. @CaseyPrattCSN What are the chances the A's bring Jimmy Rollins back home? Nathan Morris (@Naty_Mo) July 27, 2012CP: The Encinal high school stand out would look good in Green and Gold. Jimmy Rollins grew up in Alameda an A's fan. Would that be enough to get him to waive his no-trade clause? Rollins, 33, is a former MVP and won't come cheap. He is also declining statistically year-by-year. He peaked in 2007 when he won the National League MVP award. He is very popular in Philadelphia and the Phillies have to believe they will be contenders next season. Here's his WAR by year starting with his best season: 2007: 6.9, 2008: 5.6, 2009: 3.0, 2010: 2.5, 2011; 3.8. 2012: 2.6. Rollins' contract is a bit burdensome as well. He is owed 22M through 2014, and has a vesting option for 2015. The 2015 option is worth 11M more if he is able to reach certain performance incentives. According to Cot's baseball contracts if the option doesn't vest, the team owns a 8M club option and Rollins owns a 5M player option. Rollins will make a large dent in the payroll and in the prospect department. The A's would likely have to give up less in the personnel department, if they ate all that money. A lot of work would have to be done to make this move. I don't see it happening, but crazier things have occurred. @CaseyPrattCSN With all these names floating around the A's rumor mill, who do you think would fit best with this club? (@JamalM_510) July 27, 2012CP: I still think the A's biggest need is a shortstop, and I think Yunel Escobar remains the best fit. There has been a lot said of his potential clubhouse chemistry issues, but Hanley Ramirez might be one of the worst out there in that department and the A's didn't shy from going after him. Escobar is still just 28, and had a good 2011 season. He could be a valuable addition to the A's and wouldn't cost as much as Rollins, Ramirez, or Asdrubal Cabrera. You have to wonder how series the back issues are that kept Escobar out of the final two games of their recent series with the Blue Jays. E-MAIL What are the As plans for their rotation? Will they shut down all the rookies, even if they are in contention for a playoff spot in September? If they get into the playoffs, should we not expect to see Parker, Milone or Griffin?- Matthew MitchellCP: Keeping a close eye on the rookies is important. The A's main concern is Jarrod Parker who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009. Tommy Milone hasn't had any injury issues and appears to be fine for the long haul. A.J. Griffin should be fine for the stretch run as well. The A's haven't said they would shut down down anyone -- even if they make the playoffs -- like the Nationals have claimed they will do with Stephen Strasburg. Instead, the A's have been very careful with Parker's pitch count, and they will look to find a way to limit him a little at a time -- rather than shutting him down completely. A six-man rotation might play into this eventually, and the A's certainly have the bullpen strength to cut the A's starting pitchers break. Don't expect to see anyone shut down if they are in the hunt.

A's spring training Day 14: A one-sided Cactus League rivalry

A's spring training Day 14: A one-sided Cactus League rivalry

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Debate the significance of an A’s exhibition win over the Giants if you will, but don’t question its significance to Bob Melvin.

Beating the team in black and orange means a lot to Oakland’s manager no matter what the calendar reads. On Monday, the teams played a late-February game under an overcast sky and occasional light rain at Scottsdale Stadium.

Not exactly regular-season like conditions. And with both teams’ everyday players having exited the game early, the A’s held on for a 5-4 victory that ran their Cactus League winning streak to eight over the Giants.

Counting exhibitions in the Bay Area too, the A’s are 18-6 against their Bay Area rival in their past 24 spring games.

“Look, when the Giants and A’s play, there’s a little more to it,” said Melvin, who grew up in the Bay Area and played three seasons for the Giants. “You play your spring games and you’re excited about getting to play these guys. And, especially, our youngsters should be. They know the way I feel about it. The whole Bay Area is watching when we play each other.”

Matt Joyce homered deep to right off Jeff Samardzija in the top of the first, giving the first-year Athletic two home runs in two games with his new club. Stephen Vogt blooped an RBI single in the first and Ryon Healy doubled home two runs in the second.

The Giants rallied to tie it 4-4 in the seventh with three runs off minor league reliever Trey Cochran-Gill. But Adam Rosales drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth to give the A’s the lead back as they posted their first victory in three Cactus League games this spring.

NOTEWORTHY: Starters Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea both threw for the A’s, with Manaea in particular earning strong praise for his two scoreless innings.

The lefty felt very good about his slider and changeup, and according to Healy, when he went to the plate for his third at-bat, Giants catcher Buster Posey commented on how good Manaea’s changeup looked. Manaea got both Posey and Kelby Tomlinson swinging on the pitch in the third.

It was the slider, his third-best pitch, that Manaea is trying to hone.

“I was really, really happy with how my slider was,” he said. “It was probably the best one I’ve thrown in a couple years. It just felt really good out of my hand and had some good movement.”

Added Melvin: “If he gets that one to (the) back foot of a rightie, now he’s going to have three plus-pitches.”

Graveman escaped his one and only inning of work unscored upon when he stranded runners on second and third.

NEW GUYS: Joyce, likely to platoon in right field with Mark Canha, has played in two exhibitions, and twice he’s gone deep on 1-2 fastballs that caught the inner half of the plate. On Monday, Melvin batted him second and Joyce went deep off Samardzija.

“I can’t even talk to that guy,” Healy said with a smile. “He says he’s just trying to put the bat on the ball, and he has two homers.”

As for another first-year Athletic, there’s still no concrete word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will report to camp. He remains held up in the Dominican Republic as the visa process plays out. Melvin admitted a bit of concern just because Casilla is slated to play for his national team in the World Baseball Classic, and Melvin would like to get Casilla in camp for a stretch before he departs for that.

The Dominican Republic plays its first game March 9 in Miami.

“I’d like to get him here — I’d like to meet him,” Melvin said. “It’s not his fault.”

Melvin said a typical schedule would have relievers appearing in nine or 10 exhibitions before the team heads north, but that he didn’t think that would be necessary for Casilla. It’s also worth noting that none of the A’s other front-line relievers have pitched in their first game yet.

ODDS AND ENDS: Vogt, getting his first start behind the plate, and Rajai Davis each had two hits. … Shortstop Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect, played the final four innings at second base. Yairo Munoz, another highly touted infield prospect who’s in his first big league camp, entered in the same inning at third base. … Melvin praised reliever Kyle Finnegan, who came over from minor league camp for the day and handled the ninth for the save.

Despite uncertain role in 2017, Healy will be 'happy camper'

Despite uncertain role in 2017, Healy will be 'happy camper'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For a player who impressed so much in the second half last season, Ryon Healy’s role remains a bit hazy entering 2017.

The A’s insist he’ll get consistent at-bats — the question is where. As the roster shapes up, Healy will bounce between first base, designated hitter and occasional time at third base when newcomer Trevor Plouffe isn’t in the lineup.

Healy sounds game for whatever might be in store, when asked if he’d rather be guaranteed to play in the field every day.

“I think that’s any player,” Healy said. “But as long as I’m on the big league roster and I’m playing every day in the lineup and contributing to the A’s winning ballgames, I’m going to be a happy camper, that’s for sure.”

Healy earned his first big league promotion as the A’s came out of the All-Star break last summer. He hit .305 in 73 games as Oakland’s everyday third baseman, and he led American League rookies in hits (82) and extra-base hits (33) in the second half.

But when the A’s signed Plouffe in the offseason to man third base, it complicated Healy’s situation because Yonder Alonso remains as the presumed first baseman against right-handed pitchers. Healy, 25, was primarily a first baseman until last season, and he’ll spend this spring getting ready at both corner spots, though A’s Bob Melvin said first base will be more of a priority.

Melvin has talked with Healy already to make sure they’re on the same page about how he’s likely to be used.

“We’ve had conversations with that,” Melvin said. “Shoot, everybody wants to get into a routine and have one spot to play and hit one place in the lineup. That’s just not how we do things here. You try to communicate that to him ahead of time and prepare him for the role he will have. And he’ll prepare very well for it.” Healy, bothered by some quadriceps soreness early in camp, started at first in his exhibition debut Monday and lined a two-run double to left-center off Giants reliever Kraig Sitton.

There are similarities between first and third in that they’re both corner infield spots. But there are also differences that he’s gone over with infield coach Chip Hale.

“They’re both very reactionary positions, but we’ve discussed how to attack ground balls because third base you need to be a little more aggressive because of the throw across the diamond,” Healy said. “First base, you can drop-step a little bit, let the hops get to you. … I just gotta make sure I get quality reps at both and I’ll be OK.”