Now we're back to where we were in May: both Crosby and Rich Harden will be out for an extended time. Were the injuries really the reason the A's struggled in May? We're about to find out.
Besides the obvious problem of replacing Crosby's numbers with Marco Scutaro's, losing Crosby really hurts the balance of the A's lineup. Crosby balances the the 3-4-5 slots the A's order, giving them a right-handed power threat to go with lefties Dan Johnson and Eric Chavez. Having three lefties in the lineup in a row makes it too easy for the opposing managers late in ballgames.
Against LHP, Kielty is the obvious choice to replace Crosby in the middle of the order; he's hitting .311/.392/.444. But against RHP, Kielty struggles to the tune of .230/.328/.343. You don't want those numbers killing any rallies.
The other options against RHP fall into two groups:
the low OBP/high SLG options
Jay Payton: .274/.295/.585
Nick Swisher: .263/.338/.508
the high OBP/low SLG options
Scott Hatteberg: .285/.360/.370
Mark Ellis: .308/.363/.439
The problem with Hatteberg is that it makes three straight LH bats in the order, which causes a matchup disadvantage late in ballgames.
The problem with Ellis is that nobody really believes those 2005 numbers reflect his true talent level. He's never hit with power like this before. I'd rather have him hitting second and getting on base ahead of the big boppers.
The problem with Swisher is that low batting average, which is not ideal for an RBI lineup slot.
My guess is that Macha puts Jay Payton in the middle of the order, as he did last night. I don't really like that choice, but I don't like any of the choices.
I had been opposed to bringing up Daric Barton and putting him on the 40-man roster before it's absolutely necessary, but with Crosby's injury (and Kotsay's) it may be time to revisit that position. If the A's show any signs of struggling on offense in the near future, I'll reserve my right to change my mind on that one.