After the recent monster trade the Oakland A’s completed with the Chicago Cubs, the starting rotation has officially been upgraded. The next order of business is to upgrade the Athletics’ only other weak spot – second base. It has been rumored that the Oakland A’s wanted Chase Utley but since Utley does not plan on waiving his no-trade rights, there is a slim chance the A’s will get him – especially after trading their top prospect and other reliable players to Chicago.
Even though Utley would have brought veteran experience and a power bat to the Oakland A’s lineup, he is not the best fit for the team. But Tampa Bay Ray’s second baseman Ben Zobrist is a player that the A’s would gel well with. He has many qualities that the Athletics look for in a player and would definitely be an upgrade for second base.
For starters, Zobrist is a versatile player. He can play at second, at shortstop, and in the outfield. The A’s skipper Bob Melvin loves to work with players who have the ability to play multiple positions because it gives him options when it comes to creating the lineup for each game. This season, Zobrist has a .974 fielding percentage and a .419 Range Factor at second base. Those numbers are up there with Nick Punto‘s and Eric Sogard‘s fielding statistics and they are the Athletics best defensive second basemen. The Oakland A’s would not be losing any defense at this position if they were to acquire Zobrist.
Additionally, Zobrist does have a stronger bat then the Athletics current second basemen. Between Sogard and Punto, second base is currently batting .201, slugging only .249, and has one home run. Alberto Callaspo, who has recently been fielding second base, does have a more powerful bat, but sometimes the A’s need him to play other infield positions.
Zobrist has recently gotten hot and in his last seven games he has batted .458 with a .994 OPS. For the 2014 season, he has a .268 batting average with 22 RBI and .406 SLG. Zobrist would bring a hot bat to an already hot team and help the Athletics cruise into the post-season.
The Athletics have a surplus of pitchers after their trade with the Cubs, so they could potentially trade some of those pitchers for Zobrist. Like the Oakland A’s, the Rays had numerous pitchers go down with injuries this season and could be in the market for some new additions to their bullpen. Also, the Ray’s pitching is 19th overall in ERA with a 3.90 and are 25th in the league for quality starts. Some new, reliable, and quality pitchers may just be what the Rays need.
Currently, there is no open spot in the starting rotation or the bullpen for A’s pitcher Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz has been great both as a starter and as a long reliever for the Athletics this season, but he injured himself before the trade with the Cubs and has now lost his spot. This left-handed pitcher has a .291 ERA with 48 strikeouts over 55.2 innings for this season. Since David Price is the only left-handed starter for the Rays, Pomeranz would help diversify their starting rotation. Pomeranz is only on the 15-day disabled list and is expected to return soon.
Additionally, Oakland recently optioned Tommy Milone for Triple-A even after he went 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA in his prior 11 starts. In his last start with the Athletics, Milone pitched six scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays. Even though Milone was underrated in the Athletics organization, this youngster would bring new blood to the Ray’s starting rotation and would be a reliable pitcher for the Rays.
With pitchers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin expected to return next season, the Oakland A’s would be able to trade Pomeranz and Milone, still have a full bullpen for 2014, and ultimately have a surplus of pitchers available for next season. They are going to need to get rid of some of them at some point whether it be through trades or by sending them down to Triple-A. So why not trade some of them now in order to upgrade second base?
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