A few questions with Athletics Nation

Thearon W. Henderson

I shared a few questions with SB Nation's Oakland A's blog before today's upcoming series, and got some answers in return.

Yesterday, the fine folks over at Athletics Nation sent us a few questions for their series preview, seeing that the hot rolling soon-to-be 162-0 Mariners are in Oakland to face the hapless A's, owners of an embarrasing .333 winning percentage. You can read my answers here.

There is no way this poor Athletics team, filled with scrubs like "Josh Donaldson" and whatever a Yoenis Cespedes is, will have a good year or anything, so I tried to cut them a little slack to keep it civil and short. Besides, it's always nice to get a little recon on your opponents, and since the M's will face the Athletics 19 times this year, it will be important to track their contingency plans for replacing not only staff ace Jarrod Parker, but a slew of other pitching injuries and maybe a toilet or two.

In all seriousness, though, you know the A's are going to find yet another way to wallop everyone this season, and it was interesting to see that while some were calling for an April shelling thanks to the loss of a few of their top arms, the A's are probably going to be able to find a way out of it. Because they are the A's, and that's what they do.

I tried to keep the questions short, as I'm sure we'll have plenty more to talk about by the time the A's come to Safeco next week. Huge thanks to Alex Hall over at Athletics Nation for answering a few of my questions, and make sure to give their great site a read: it's not just Billy Beane who's good with numbers.

1. Do you think the A's done enough to account for the loss of Parker, Griffin, O'Flaherty, and Cook? Or, at least, do you feel comfortable biding time until those latter names return?

AN: The A's came into the year with a lot of pitching depth, so the early losses have been manageable. They knew O'Flaherty was hurt when he came on board (recovering from TJS), so his best-case scenario in 2014 was always as a second-half reinforcement. Cook should be back on Saturday, so that's not a problem.

As for Parker and Griffin, the losses aren't huge as long as they don't stack up with further injuries to the rotation. Griffin is a league-average guy, as he gives up too many homers to be dominant. The drop-off from Griffin to Tommy Milone is negligible, and the latter could just as likely turn out to be better in any given year. As for Jesse Chavez, your guess is as good as mine how that will turn out. I've been calling for Chavez to get a shot in the rotation since last May, so I think he's absolutely worth a look. We'll find out if he's the next Billy Beane out-of-nowhere gem, and if he's not, then Billy will try the next guy in line in Triple-A. When it comes to pitching, things always seem to work out for Billy Beane, so I've stopped worrying when guys get hurt or things don't go according to plan.

2. What does the loss of Jarrod Parker do for the future of the A's beyond the 2014 season and their place in the AL West?

AN: Although Parker was getting the Opening Day nod, he isn't really an irreplaceable ace. Rather, he's a solid No. 2/3 starter. Obviously the team is better when he's a part of it, but losing him doesn't really change the A's present or future outlook. People don't realize it, but this team is built on offense more than on pitching -- fourth in MLB in scoring last year, only seventh in ERA. Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir both looked great in their first starts of the season, so as long as the offense keeps humming along and Billy keeps the back of the rotation stocked with average starters, things should be fine for at least a couple more years.

3. The O.co sewage drama has become one of baseball's most consistent narratives in the past few years. I feel safe saying on behalf of a lot of people that the A's, and you fans, totally deserve a new ballpark. Is that only happening if the team moves? And if they move to San Jose, how do Oakland fans react?

AN: One of our writers did a great article on the stadium situation last week. All parties involved are at something of a stalemate, and it's tough to say what direction things will head from here. It is still possible that a stadium could be built elsewhere in Oakland. If the show does move to San Jose, there will certainly be a lot of backlash from some sections of the fanbase, but I think the overall reception would be neutral-to-positive and that everyone would get used to things quickly. If they extended BART down there, then things wouldn't even change that much for the average fan. Personally, I'm so sick of it all that I don't even care which city they end up in as long as they're in the Bay Area -- just get this over with already and stop holding the team hostage so that everyone involved can stop having this cloud over their heads which distracts them from the baseball side of things.

4. Can we have John Jaso back?*

When I asked you about Nick Franklin, I almost included a question at the end asking you if we could have him. I like Jaso, but his defense is poor and I'd be happy having Derek Norris start more games (with Stephen Vogt as his backup) for the right return. I'm not eager to lose Jaso's OBP from the lineup, but middle infield is still the weakest area of this team (outside of Jed Lowrie's offense), so Franklin is quickly becoming my Holy Grail that I want to acquire. I mean, he's just sitting there in your basement, collecting dust. Why not let someone else get some use out of him?




*look, I realize that Jaso doesn't exactly fit on the M's with Zunino, and I'm not advocating that they actually go get him or anything. I know the M's aren't going the platoon route behind the plate anymore. But Jaso was one of my favorite Mariners, dammit. He caught Felix's perfect game, he was the one of the only consistent rays of sunshine in that awful 2012 season, acquiring him fulfilled the double task of shipping away my least favorite person to ever wear a Mariners uniform, ever, and then they sent him away for ugh. Feelings are feelings.
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