Well, news broke today that Scott Sizemore cleared waivers and elected free agency so there goes my longshot prediction that he might end up as the right-handed half of a second base platoon with Eric Sogard.
What can I say? I was a Sizemore fan and I saw more upside in a healthy Sizemore over Oakland‘s other options as a complement to Sogard. I was wrong, but I’ve gotten used to it over the years. Feel free to label me a bad A’s fan because Sizemore’s journey through waivers totally escaped my attention. It’s almost like I’m a busy dad of two instead of a full-time baseball blogger. Oh wait, I am a busy dad and it’s a minor miracle that I spend as much time as I do blogging about baseball.
Best of luck to the snakebitten Sizemore as he moves on with his career. He makes Eric Chavez‘s last few years with the A’s look like a perfectly healthy walk in the park. If anyone’s due for a run of good luck and a return to full health, it’s Sizemore. As long as we’re talking about Sizemores, it’d be nice if Grady Sizemore finally got healthy too. But back to Scott Sizemore and the A’s …
Call me crazy, but I think the Anaheim Angels would have been better off taking a buy-low gamble on Sizemore at third base and dealing Peter Bourjos for much-needed pitching. But Anaheim’s front office decided to trade Bourjos for St. Louis’ David Freese. Sizemore’s a little younger and the last time he was healthy he was good for a 1.2 WAR with Oakland in 2011 compared to the -0.3 WAR Freese posted last season for the Cardinals. But if the Angels want to continue to ignore pitching while loading up on batters slowly entering the downside of their career, far be it for me to complain.
So at this point it looks like recently signed Nick Punto is poised to fill the more predictable role as Sogard’s platoon partner at second base for the A’s. And now that Sizemore is out of the picture, Alberto Callaspo may have a better opportunity to hang around toward the end of Oakland’s bench. If you believe that the A’s would try Callaspo out at first base then I can definitely see a role for him as a super sub/pinch hitter which could actually be pretty handy to have around.
Nate Freiman arguably did a decent job last year as the right-handed half of Oakland’s first base platoon with Brandon Moss, especially considering the fact that he was making a big jump from Double A as a Rule 5 pick forced into extremely limited playing time. Freiman could use everyday at bats in Sacramento to advance his development and Callaspo’s .270/.350/.409 mark with Oakland in 2013 is right on par with the .274/.327/.389 line Freiman posted. If the A’s could win with Freimanesque offense at first base against left-handed starting pitchers in 2013 they could probably handle it out of Callaspo in 2014.
The advantage of going with Callaspo over Freiman, which is purely my bored-with-the-offseason speculation, is that he’s better suited to deliver as a pinch hitter in between infrequent starts and he offers a lot more versatility off the bench as a switch hitter who can handle almost every infield position. Sure, Callaspo can’t play third or second base very well but Freiman can’t play them at all so Oakland comes out ahead in that exchange. That’s a nifty little weapon for manager Bob Melvin to have in his arsenal late in a ballgame.
If versatility is the name of the game in Oakland then Callaspo has an inside track over Freiman to nail down a spot on the bench as a utility guy holding down the short end of a first base platoon with Moss.
As much an anything else, the interesting angle to Sizemore and the A’s parting ways is that it opens up another spot on Oakland’s 40-man roster. With just 38 of 40 spots filled, general manager Billy Beane has a little more wiggle room to add players via free agency, trade or the Rule 5 draft without moving anyone else the A’s value through the waiver process. It’s a deliberate move by the front office and it’ll be interesting to see what Oakland does with the roster spots as the offseason rolls along.
My money is still on a starting pitcher and a reliever eventually coming to town but it could take a little while for that to unfold as the market slowly evolves over the next month or so.
So best of luck to Scott Sizemore. Put that green and gold injury bug in the rear view mirror and get your career back on track. In an offseason where buying low is the savvy move, Sizemore has a chance to make some general manager out there look very smart if he can just get healthy again.