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Tommy MIlone would love to earn a role back in the starting rotation.
As you saw in the slides prior, there are a couple of key position battles. Here's a final look at each, with a prediction of who wins:
Fifth Starter: Tommy Milone vs. Dan Straily
Milone started 2012 as a quality arm. Straily was not even a thought. Fast forward a year and Milone was inconsistent while Straily might have been one of the most reliable arms in the rotation.
Milone has shown he has the stuff. There's little reason to believe he can't bounce back. But he stands in his own way mentally (assuming 2012 wasn't a fluke and he just isn't as talented as previously thought). And even if he does, management may just be sold on Straily outright.
Winner: Dan Straily
Bullpen Spots (2): Drew Pomeranz, Josh Lindblom, Dan Otero, Jess Chavez, Evan Scribner, Francisco Abad, Francisco Rodriguez, Tommy Milone
Chavez, Scribner and Abad are out of options. Therefore, the initial inclination may be to go with two out of three of them or all three.
It likely starts that way.
As soon as Eric O'Flaherty returns, though, he's going to take a spot, and based on prior work, the best guess is Scribner's. Eventually, Otero has to make his way onto this roster too. It's a coin flip between Chavez and Abad.
Meanwhile, Milone, Pomeranz, Rodriguez and Lindblom should start in Triple-A and remain there unless there's an injury.
Winners: Abad, Chavez, Scribner to start; O'Flaherty, Otero, Milone to finish.
Less Likely Battles: Catcher, Second Base, Fourth Outfielder, Shortstop, DH
It may seem like quite a few battles, but these are less realistic.
Stephen Vogt would have to wildly outplay Derek Norris and the A's management would have to give up on the latter for now. It's possible, but not probable.
Eric Sogard is the primary second baseman, for now. But it's his job to lose. If he hits near the Mendoza Line, the A's may be quick to swap him out in favor of Alberto Callaspo or Nick Punto on a more permanent basis.
Craig Gentry is slated as the fourth outfielder. He will also get time at DH. It'd take quite the miracle, but Sam Fuld could storm into spring training and make many within the organization rethink their position on Gentry. Again, it'd take a lot to sit the guy Oakland acquired for the hefty price of Michael Choice.
Addison Russell has such high potential, he could push Lowrie at shortstop. Lowrie would simply slide to second base. But in order for this to occur, Russell would have to hit .800 in spring training or something similarly ridiculous.
For now, Jaso is the DH.
If he doesn't hack it, though, there are all kinds of guys that could give it a shot including Fuld, Callaspo, Michael Taylor and more.
All of this, of course, is purely speculation.
The A's should open the season with Norris at catcher, Sogard at second, Lowrie at short, Jaso at DH and Gentry in the fourth outfield spot.
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