Oakland Athletics: 4 Lineup Shuffles to Revamp the Offense

Nick HouserCorrespondent IIJune 13, 2012

Oakland Athletics: 4 Lineup Shuffles to Revamp the Offense

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    The Oakland Athletics once again lack offensive firepower, but there are a few moves Bob Melvin can make that could jump start the bats.

    Granted, the A's won't leap into the top 10 in team batting average or home runs. Still, fans can see the potential the roster has.

    It's like a puzzle.

    You never know how the pieces fit together until you play around with it. Then things start clicking and the overall picture becomes larger and clearer.

    The team has made plenty of moves already.

    Brandon Allen and Kila Ka'aihue have been designated for assignment, Daric Barton was sent down to Triple-A and Brandon Moss received a call up. That's just at first base.

    It should be noted that Oakland has suffered several injuries too.

    Brandon Inge, Yoenis Cespedes and Coco Crisp have spent time on the disabled list. Due to those injuries, Colin Cowgill, Josh Donaldson and Adam Rosales have played off and on.

    The best thing for the lineup isn't even a shuffle. It's consistency.

    Even so, here are a few minor tweaks Melvin should consider.

The First Move Is a Non-Move

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    Okay, so it's not a shuffle, but the Oakland Athletics have to find some consistency at first base.

    How can the lineup have success out of the player manning first if no one knows who it will be?

    Brandon Allen was about on par with the rest of the options—he was designated for assignment and picked up by Tampa Bay.

    Daric Barton couldn't cut it and was sent down.

    Kila Ka'aihue was hitting better than both men—he too was designated.

    The latest to try his hand is recent call up Brandon Moss.

    We are nearly halfway through the season and the A's lack better options at first base. They have to stick this one out and let their fourth try to figure things out.

    A hitter affects the man in front of and behind him.

    Commit to Moss. Hit him toward the bottom of the lineup.

Coco Crisp to the Bottom of the Lineup

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    Coco Crisp is not getting the job done as a two-hole hitter.

    He's hitting just .171, which could be overlooked slightly if his on-base percentage was high.

    It's not.

    With just a .230 OBP, Crisp has the lowest of all eight everyday positional players.

    This is not the production you want from your second batter.

    There's nothing like a trip to the bottom of the order to wake someone up. The eight and nine hitters see different pitches and there are lower expectations.

Cliff Pennington in the Two Hole

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    Cliff Pennington has spent the most time this season hitting ninth.

    From this spot, his batting average is .179 with a .253 OBP.

    Ideally, teams like the ninth hitter to be a poor man's leadoff—hits for average and gets on base (though worse than the true leadoff) with the speed to do something once he's on.

    Cliff Pennington fits the bill.

    However, batting second, Pennington's BA and OBP spike by nearly 50 points each. He's more productive all the way through from hits to walks, RBI to doubles.

It Might Just Be Time to Let the Kids Play

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    In addition to owning the lowest OBP of any everyday positional player, Coco Crisp also has the lowest batting average. Of his 22 hits, only three have been for extra bases.

    At this point, Crisp is hardly contributing anything.

    Just two weeks ago, the team moved Crisp back to center field in hopes the move would reinvigorate his bat.

    It hasn't worked.

    Colin Cowgill has been able to match Crisp's output in less time. He has a higher batting average and on base percentage too.

    It's difficult to bench a guy making $6.5 million, but if the players making less than him are consistently performing better, it's a decision that has to be—at the very least—considered.

    The youth movement already started at first base with Brandon Moss' call up.

    So who's next?

    Guys like Chris Carter, Josh Donaldson and Eric Sogard could benefit from more time too rather than be constantly bounced between Triple-A and the big leagues.

    Grant Green, Stephen Parker and Derek Norris might as well get some time in the majors.

    The team (and fans) have to be honest with themselves. It may be too late and there isn't enough talent that would kick-start the offense enough to catch up to the Texas Rangers or Los Angeles Angels.

    Fans have seen it before—young guys get a shot, which pumps them up, reinvigorating the entire batting order.

    Plus, the younger guys have no book on them yet. It could work to an advantage and translate to a few more wins.

    Either way, it won't make the A's contenders.

    It could however open some eyes, develop young players and spark a—albeit all for naught—surge.

    Wins with a no-name roster are more impressive. Losses are less embarrassing and more forgivable.

Two New Lineups

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    This is what the lineup could look like if the Oakland Athletics continue with their current roster:

    1. Jemile Weeks (2B)
    2. Cliff Pennington (SS)
    3. Josh Reddick (RF)
    4. Yoenis Cespedes (LF)
    5. Seth Smith (DH)
    6. Brandon Inge (3B)
    7. Kurt Suzuki (C)
    8. Brandon Moss (1B)
    9. Coco Crisp (CF)

    Colin Cowgill is the first option in the outfield on days off. Adam Rosales is the first option in the infield on days off. Johnny Gomes is the pinch hitter and second option at designated hitter if everyone else besides Smith plays.

    If they go with a youth movement, it could look like this:

    1. Jemile Weeks (2B)
    2. Cliff Pennington (SS)
    3. Josh Reddick (RF)
    4. Yoenis Cespedes (CF)
    5. Brandon Inge (3B)
    6. Brandon Moss (1B)
    7. Chris Carter (DH)
    8. Josh Donaldson (C)
    9. Colin Cowgill (RF)

    Eric Sogard is the infield option on the infielders' days off.