Like far too many players to wear green and gold the past several years, Michael Ynoa has been chewed up and spit out by the injury bug. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
RANDOM RAMBLINGS FOR JUNE
All the odds and ends that were too odd to end up in the monthly Rewind and Fast Forwarding posts.
* With the amateur draft right around the corner ESPN’s SweetSpot took a nice look at all-time draft teams for the AL West and Oakland stands out as one of the best in the league. They’ve done a helluva job drafting over the years and hopefully they can strike some gold with this year’s batch of selections to keep the rebuilding effort moving toward a successful end result.
The A’s have the No. 11 overall pick in the first round, five of the first 74 overall picks, and selections 62 and 74 in the second round.
* Considering the success the A’s are having with first baseman-turned-relief pitcher Sean Doolittle in the minor leagues this season maybe it’s time to throw in the towel on the idea of Michael Ynoa ever delivering more than a dozen pitches in a row without getting hurt and convert the kid to a position player. Of course, the only minor problem with that totally absurd idea is that Doolittle actually pitched in college and Ynoa barely had any experience pitching in organized baseball when the A’s signed him as a teen out of the Dominican Republic.
I know I should have let go of the idea of Ynoa being part of Oakland’s future a long time ago but for some reason the longer the odds become on him ever putting it together the more determined I get to see him amount to something as a baseball player. Clearly, in my more desperate moments of boredom I even briefly envision Ynoa as a position player just to see the A’s get something out of their investment.
At this rate smart money says the kid will probably vanish from professional baseball but there’s a part of me that thinks he could resurface in several years with another team as a live-armed shutdown relief pitcher who still has a long career ahead of him.
Michael Taylor is hitting well in his fourth trip through Triple A but his path to Oakland isn’t clear. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
* If I’m Michael Taylor I grab a first baseman’s glove and start taking grounders in Sacramento just to find a clearer path to the major leagues with the A’s. I’m sure it’d be a waste of Taylor’s outfield defense and he probably doesn’t hit for enough power to pull it off, but shifting to first base would give him an open shot at playing time in Oakland assuming that the organization is done with Chris Carter and Daric Barton and Kila Ka’aihue aren’t long-term solutions.
With a batting average well over .300 and an OPS in the neighborhood of .900 in his fourth run through Triple A I don’t think Taylor has a whole lot more to gain from playing at that level. His inability to handle center field and Oakland’s glut out of outfielders has him trapped in the state’s capitol and a move to first base, which appears to be a black hole in the organization, may be just what the doctor ordered to jump start his career and provide me with a little entertainment if it pans out.
* I’m too cheap to pay for ESPN insider access to read the rest of this article by former MLB general manager Jim Bowden, but I certainly agree with the premise that the A’s would be better off if they had a couple of truly horrible seasons during this rebuild so they can land some premium draft picks.
* Blast homers off a battleship? This minor league home run derby is all kinds of awesome.
* Always nice to see someone from outside the Bay Area weigh in on the A’s stadium issue and apply some pressure on commissioner Bud Selig to finally make a decision.
And I’m sure the people behind the full-page ad in the Oakland Tribune were overjoyed to see that their PR move got them some coverage in the Los Angeles Times.
Meanwhile, John Fisher and Lew Wolff probably couldn’t care less about the open letter in the Trib and have no interest in selling the team or breaking ground on a new ballpark in Oakland.
As usual, there’s nothing but hot air being weakly blown around and none of it is getting the A’s any closer to a new home anytime soon.
* If we want to look way ahead, we can set our sights on August when the owners meet again and we might get some more noise about the A’s stadium issue.
* Pet peeve of the month: Hearing someone called a professional hitter by a broadcaster during a game. I just hate that one. No one’s out there playing ball for free.
The mad, hacking fool who gets himself out swinging at a ball in the dirt? The patient guy who works the count and goes with the pitch to the opposite field? They’re all getting a paycheck most of us would die for so they’re all professional hitters.
* The more I watch Daric Barton “hit” the more I believe that he actually wants to be a home plate umpire. Seeing him get demoted to Sacramento is one of the early highlights of the year. It’d be nice if Kila Ka’aihue actually represented a notable upgrade over Barton in the lineup.
One more thing about Barton: He’s a professional hitter which is one more example that the cliche is basically worthless.
Edwin Encarnacion hits the ball with authority which is more than you can say about most of the guys in Oakland’s lineup. (Reuters)
* When I look at a Blue Jays box score Edwin Encarnacion’s name and stats always catch my eye. The A’s claimed him off waivers from Toronto in 2010 but quickly let him go and he’s arguably been more productive than just about anyone the A’s have had in the lineup since then.
What was the point in shelling out the money for the waiver claim in the first place? I’d take Encarnacion’s bat at third, first, or DH over anyone the A’s have run out there over the past couple of years.
The front office was smart enough to grab him but they weren’t smart enough to hold onto him.
* If the A’s want to find some creative ways to try and improve the ballpark experience for fans and boost attendance they can look to the country where they opened the 2012 season. Japanese baseball has cheerleaders in miniskirts and beer girls with kegs of ice-cold suds strapped to their backs. Brilliant. I wholeheartedly approve.
Note to owner Lew Wolff: Less tarp, more beer girls.
FILL THE MAILBAG
In an effort to make things a little more interactive here at Junkball please feel free to send me some questions or comments about the A’s, Major League Baseball or … well … whatever and I’ll try and get around to answering them once a month.
I know I promised to dig into the mailbox in this post but time didn’t exactly cooperate with me this weekend so I’ll get to it in a few days.
Fire away on Twitter at @JunkballBlogger or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll kick some stuff around for the sake of amusement.