Here's a Thought: What Should The A's Do When Jason Giambi Returns?

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Here's a Thought: What Should The A's Do When Jason Giambi Returns?
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Jason Giambi is eligible to come off the disabled list for the Oakland A's.

Giambi claims to be healthy and expects to be activated once he is eligible to return.

Since Giambi went on the DL, however, the A's have traded Matt Holliday and Orlando Cabrera, while giving young players such as Tommy Everidge, Daric Barton, Eric Patterson, and Cliff Pennington a look.

Veterans such as Rajai Davis and Nomar Garciaparra have also hit well in the time that Giambi has been out.

The success of the veterans and the need to play the youngsters gives the A's a tough decision for who to drop off the roster when Giambi returns.

I've narrowed it down to Giambi himself, Garciaparra, Everidge, Ryan Sweeney, Russ Springer, Edgar Gonzalez, and Santiago Casilla.

I'm just briefly going to present the for-and-against arguments for each.

 

Giambi should go because: He was hitting a paltry .193 this season. He's 38-years old and has no future in Oakland after 2009, so the A's should let Everidge or Barton (currently on the DL himself) play first instead. Giambi is also a bad defender.

Giambi should not go because: He has a proven track record of success and was still walking and hitting the occasional homer this season. If he catches fire upon his return, perhaps the A's can trade him in a waiver deal. It also looks bad to release a player just as he's coming back from an injury.

 

Garciaparra should go because: Like Giambi, Garciaparra has no future in Oakland post-2009. He's got just a .681 OPS and is not a good defender. Garciaparra is also extremely fragile, and misses a lot of time with injuries.

Garciaparra should not go because: He hit .324/.359/.405 in July, and if he keeps it up, perhaps he can be traded in a waiver deal and the A's can get something in return. Garciaparra can also play third and short in addition to first, so he's more defensively flexible than Giambi.

 

Everidge should go because: He's hitting .250/.321/.375 in limited duty. He's an average first baseman who can also play third in a pinch, but he's not a defensive asset.

Everidge should not go because: He's only 26, crushed Triple-A at a .382/.432/.636 clip this season, and has only had six games to prove himself. He hasn't embarrassed himself at the plate, and should get at least a month of playing time to show his ability. 

 

Sweeney should go because: He has no offensive skill other than hitting a few singles. His batting average of .274 looks respectable; his .681 OPS does not.

Sweeney should not go because: He plays good defense in the outfield and is only 24. Sending Sweeney down would leave the A's with just four outfielders: Eric Patterson, Scott Hairston, Rajai Davis, and Jack Cust.

 

Springer should go because: He's 40 and not pitching particularly well. Like Giambi and Garciaparra, he's an average-or-worse performer in the present who is not a part of the future.

Springer should not go because: Like Giambi and Garciaparra, Springer could be moved in a waiver deal if he plays well in the next few weeks. Also, exchanging Giambi for Springer would leave the A's with just 11 pitchers, which might stretch the bullpen some.

 

Gonzalez should go because: He's got a career FIP of 5.37 and has a terrible 24/20 K/BB ratio this season.

Gonzalez should not go because: He hasn't allowed a homer in 39 2/3 innings, although that's likely a fluke. Again, it's not the best of ideas to carry 11 pitchers when guys like Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez are prone to early exits, stretching the bullpen. Gonzalez is really important because he can go several innings to lessen that stress.

 

Casilla should go because: He's struggled to a 4.76 xFIP this season. His K/BB ratio is also bad (27/20), and he's now 29 years old, so he's unlikely to get much better.

Casilla should not go because: He's got a good arm, and there's still the 11-pitcher issue. Casilla's put together some good years before in 2007-2008, and he's showing signs of improvement since the All-Star Break.

 

After reviewing all the pros and cons, I have to say that just getting rid of Giambi makes the most sense. He provides the least flexibility of any of these players, has no future in Oakland after 2009, and is arguably the worst performer of all these players.

If the A's insist on keeping Giambi, I think optioning Sweeney to the minors wouldn't be a bad idea. He needs regular at-bats to work on driving the ball, and the A's could employ a Patterson-Davis-Hairston outfield, with Cust DHing and occasionally spotting in left or right.

If it's a pitcher who goes, I'd say Springer makes the most sense. Casilla has more upside, and Gonzalez eats innings.

So, in order, this is my list of who should go the most:

1.) Giambi
2.) Sweeney
3.) Garciaparra
4.) Springer
5.) Casilla
6.) Everidge
7.) Gonzalez

What I'm scared of is that the A's are going to send Everidge down, which would be a really stupid idea in my opinion. I think Everidge and Barton (when he gets back) should take the spots of Giambi and Garciaparra.

So those are my thoughts on a pretty difficult decision. What do you think?

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