Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Chavez taking grounders, but to what end?
Did you hear the news? The A's might have a new first baseman!
Eric Chavez is trying to get comfortable at a new position for the Oakland Athletics. Chavez got his first workout Tuesday at first base during Oakland’s practice at Phoenix Muni. Chavez won six Gold Gloves at third base for the A’s. He’s been limited by injuries during the past three seasons, but Oakland wants to try to keep his bat in the lineup this year.
If I'd been drinking milk when I read that, it would have come out my nose.
The A's don't actually need any more first basemen. They've got Daric Barton. Plus Jake Fox and Dallas McPherson could play first base in a pinch, and also their A-No. 1 prospect is a Triple-A first baseman named Chris Carter. They've got plenty of guys who can play first base.
What they don't have is plenty of guys who can hit. There's little reason to think Chavez will hit. Over the past three seasons, in which he's managed to play only 121 games, Chavez has a .233/.293/.415 line. Sure, maybe he can do better if he's "healthy" ... but he's less likely to be healthy if he's fooling around at first base. One might at least imagine some sort of platoon ... except Chavez, like both Barton and Jack Cust, bats left-handed.
There's really nowhere for Chavez in Oakland's lineup. This continuing charade -- we have to find a place for his bat! -- is merely in the service of two old baseball traditions: 1) if you're hurt, you get to play again when you're healthy, and 2) if we're paying you $12 million, we won't flat-out release you unless we have to.
Like Joaquin Andujar said, youneverknow. But friends, this story just doesn't have a happy ending. And the A's will be better off when they get to stop pretending that it might.