Has a team ever had a more boring spring training than the 2006 A's? No roster battles, no job battles, no major injuries, just a few minor ones that seem nothing to worry about. I guess I can worry that some of the starting pitchers, like Joe Blanton and Dan Haren, aren't pitching that well. But I don't.
The A's lack of a proven situational left-hander is perhaps their only glaring weakness. Joe Kennedy figures to be more of a multiple-inning reliever than a left-on-left specialist, and unlike the Angels of recent seasons, the A's don't have hard-throwing right-handers to counter lefties in the middle innings.
Thus, it will be more difficult for the A's to match up against the top left-handed hitters in the division: the Angels' Garret Anderson and Casey Kotchman, the Rangers' Hank Blalock and Brad Wilkerson, the Mariners' Ichiro and Raul Ibanez.
Sorry, I'm not falling for that worry, either. Last year, Anderson, Ichiro, and Wilkerson each actually had a better OPS against LHP last year than RHP. In fact, Ichiro and Wilkerson both have a higher OPS vs. LHP for their entire careers. The only lefty hitters in the division who seem to have abnormally large career splits are Blalock and Matt Lawton. If having Justin Duchscherer or Kiko Calero face Blalock or Lawton in a game-critical situation is the A's biggest problem, well, golly, it's going to be a really good season.
But the fact that Rosenthal is dropping hints, and Ken Macha has done likewise, makes me suspect that even if another lefty isn't a pressing need, if there's a decent deal out there to be made, the A's might be tempted. The spring training trade flurry has begun, with teams making final roster shufflings before opening day, so perhaps something will happen soon.
If nothing else, the A's need to figure out what to do with Freddie Bynum, who is out of options. The A's are pretty much forced to trade him, it seems, as I doubt a team like the Marlins would let Bynum pass through waivers without claiming him. You wonder if the A's can even get anything for Bynum, since they're backed in a corner with him, but the A's were in such a situation a few years ago with Chad Harville, and ended up getting Kirk Saarloos for him. That turned out pretty well, all things considered.
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By the way, in researching this entry I found an interesting quirk. Check out the Mariners roster. Every single one of their listed catchers and infielders bats right handed. Every single one of their listed outfielders bats left handed.
Carl Everett is a switch hitter, but he's separated out by being listed as a DH. I guess Mike Morse can play some outfield, and Ibanez can play first base, but all in all, it looks like the Mariners won't be doing much platooning this year.