Spring Training Roundup

Spring Training Crucial For Some Players

Spring training statistics mean little to established star players, who know their jobs are not in jeopardy. However to a rookie trying to make a team those stats are crucial and could make the difference between making a team or being sent back to the minors.There are some veterans like Adam Dunn who need a good spring to regain their confidence, even though his job is secure.

Three Unbeaten Teams

There are three unbeaten teams remaining after Tuesday’s games. The Detroit Tigers lead all teams with a 4-0 record, with Boston Red Sox next with a 3-0 record. The Los Angeles Angels are the only other remaining unbeaten team with 2-0 record.

Early Stats Leaders

Ten players are tied for the home run lead with two each, including Alfonso Soriano who hit two round-trippers yesterday. He is being counted on to provide power for the Chicago Cubs after the loss of Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena.

Brandon Allen of the Oakland Athletics is leading the majors in RBI with 8, with Shelley Duncan,  Cleveland Indians and Ryan Raburn, Detroit Tigers next with 6 each.

Yamaico Navarro, Pittsburgh Pirates and Seth Smith, Oakland Athletics lead the majors in batting average with .500 marks for players with at least 10 spring at-bats.

Worst Pitching Performance of Spring

Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves has allowed six home runs in only two innings this spring, with a 31.50 ERA.

Billy Beane’s Offseason Moves Questionable

Billy Beane may be portrayed in the movies as a miracle worker, but his offseason moves show he is not all that brilliant after all.

Since we are not able to know the behind the scenes machinations, between Beane and ownership it may not be fair to place all the blame on Beane. He may be merely following orders to cut salary.

Starting Rotation Problems

Regardless, the Athletics have real problems with their starting rotation, after Beane traded 16 game winner Gio Gonzalez to the Washington Nationals and 12 game winner Trevor Cahill to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

CBSsports.com lists Brandon McCarthy as the No.1 starter with Bartolo Colon as the second starter. Brad Peacock, Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone fill out the rotation, with the last three, not exactly established major league starters. To make matters worse, starter Dallas Braden may not return to action till April or May, while Brett Anderson might return in August.

Athletics Lead Majors In Runs Scored

The Athletics offense has performed well after the first six games, in the 2012 spring training games. The A’s lead the majors in runs scored with 41, but are second in earned runs allowed with 33, which is two less than the Diamondbacks, who have allowed 35 earned runs this spring.

The infielders are hitting particularly well with Brandon Allen and Chris Carter hitting .500 and .400 respectively as they battle for the first base job. Allen leads all major leaguers this spring with 8 RBI. Daric Barton will no longer be the first baseman, if their torrid hitting continues the rest of the spring. Kila Ka’aihue has no chance of being the first baseman the way Allen and Carter are hitting. Jemile Weeks the returning second baseman is hitting .417, with one home run and five RBI’s, showing he aims to hold onto his position.

Sogard and Timmons Battling For Starting Positions

Eric Sogard and Wes Timmons are hitting .353 and .357 respectively as they battle to win jobs in the left side of the infield. Sogard has hit two home runs in 17 spring at-bats, after hitting only five in 514 minor league at-bats with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League in 2011.

Solid Outfield

It will be interesting to see how long it takes Yoenis Cespedes to adapt to major league pitching. The outfield should be solid with Coco Crisp, Cespedes and Josh Reddick patrolling the outfield with Seth Smith and Jonny Gomes as backups. Manny Ramirez will return to the Athletics late in May after serving his 50 game suspension.

Kurt Suzuki will be returning as the catcher, but after seeing his average drop from .279 in 2008, to .274 in 2009, .242 in 2010, and .237 in 2011, he needs to improve his hitting. He could stand to improve his plate discipline, as his OBP has also dropped each of the last three seasons.

Anthony Recker is listed as the backup catcher on the depth chart, but a hot spring byLandon Powellmight land him the backup role.

Summary: The Athletics seem to have improved their offense, but the starting pitching rotation looks very shaky. When Bartolo Colon is the No. 2 starter, it shows the rotation is not great. Colon won his sixth game in 2011 giving him a 6-3 record on July 2. He won his eighth game on July 30 and didn’t win again the rest of the 2011 season, so the Athletics could be in big trouble, if he pitches like he did the last two months of last season.

Yoesnis Cespedes will be trying to prove he can hit major league pitching, while Manny Ramirez will have to rebound from his 1 for 17 season with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 and that was while he was on steroids, so he could be even worse without the steroids, when he returns from the suspension.

Pitching will be the determining factor in whether the 2012 season is successful, since the Athletics may have a good hitting team in 2012, but the question is if they scan outscore a starting rotation, which only won 20 games combined in 2011, while Gio Gonzalez won 16 by himself with the Athletics last season.

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