Home MLB Crisp, Colon and Smith add some experience to the A’s roster

Crisp, Colon and Smith add some experience to the A’s roster

by Matt Smith

Oakland A'sIt turns out that the Oakland A’s are not going to field a team of rookies and MLB youngsters in 2012 after all.

Not completely, anyway.

The re-signing of centre fielder Coco Crisp was a surprise as it appeared as though the A’s entire first choice outfield from 2011 would be heading for pastures new. There was something brutally symbolic about that possibility;  a bold statement that the A’s had just started a completely new journey (currently titled ‘which way to San Jose?’).

The money invested in Crisp may be a tad rich; however as a fan it is difficult to view it too harshly. He’s an engaging personality who creates excitement on the base pads while also contributing with the bat and glove.

There are many other factors you need to consider from an analytical point of view when it comes to assessing his value, but as someone who will be listening to and watching many A’s games during what is likely to be a resolutely bleak season, such small crumbs of comfort aren’t so readily swept into the bin.

I wouldn’t have been shocked if the Coco comeback had turned out to be the only veteran addition of the offseason, considering this is a team entering a full-on rebuilding phase. Yet over the last couple of days two more names have been added to the A’s roster mix.

The first isn’t officially an A’s player yet. The signing of free agent pitcher Bartolo Colon still needs to be confirmed, but he looks set to add a weighty veteran presence to the A’s starting rotation. His positive performance for the Yankees last season was completely unexpected; it appeared that the former Cy Young winner’s career was over. Instead, he proved to be a real asset for New York until injuries slowed him down over the final two months.

Colon is a mixed bag for me: he has the ‘built for comfort’ pitcher body that always makes me chuckle and yet his time in an Angels uniform naturally set me against him. I suspect Angels fans may read the news of the A’s signing him with a smirk, starkly illustrating as it does the cavernous gap between the type of player they can add to their roster and the A’s position as a pauper. Still, the beauty of sport is that there’s always the possibility that Colon could out-pitch C.J. Wilson to seal a win for Oakland and, for that one day at least, underdog status will make the game all the more enjoyable.

The forthcoming addition of Colon brought some attention to the A’s possible rotation. Two of the candidates are now no longer options as the A’s traded Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman to the Rockies for outfielder Seth Smith on Monday.

Neither pitcher is likely to be too much of a loss, so it’s the addition of Smith that has been my focus since the deal was announced. At first glance, his platoon splits left me underwhelmed, but an A’s fan quickly learns to concentrate on the good rather than the bad. His struggles against lefties obscure the fact that he’s a better hitter than first appears, so long as he’s facing right-handed pitching.

Ideally you want hitters who perform well regardless of which hand the ball is coming out of, but the A’s will be able to put him in situations where he can perform at his best.  

That ‘situation’ may still be in another team’s uniform. It would hardly be the first time General Manager Billy Beane has traded for a player with a mind to trade him on soon after.  For now, I’ll welcome him to the A’s but be mindful – as with all our players – not to be too surprised if his stay with the team is a short one.

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