John Jaso is not a DH and other links

By Jason Wojciechowski on March 4, 2014 at 8:08 AM

Links! (A few days old at this point, but hopefully nothing's wildly out of date.)

Apparently John Jaso is not a DH. I don't know what to do with this news. Have you heard about Baseball Prospectus' new catcher metrics? They work in how a catcher frames and blocks pitches while taking account of pitch type rather than using a generic strike zone for all pitchers. (E.g. curveballs have a drastically different strike zone than fastballs.) By those numbers if Jaso saw 7000 pitchers last year, he'd have cost the team just shy of 30 runs compared to the average catcher's blocking and framing. By BP's metric, Jaso subtracted the ninth-most value in the league last year on framing despite having half to a third as many pitches caught as seven of the eight catchers above him. The eighth? And number one overall? The immortal Ryan Doumit. So that's who the A's are putting behind the plate to catch this staff of youngsters.

That article speculates that this means we'll see Brandon Moss and Daric Barton as the first basemen, which presumably leaves Nate Freiman high and dry, because why would you need three first basemen, even on the assumption that Freiman is better than either Moss or Barton at hitting lefties? So is this the roster?:

C: Jaso
1B: Barton
2B: Callaspo
SS: Lowrie
3B: Donaldson
LF: Cespedes
CF: Crisp
RF: Reddick
DH: Moss

C: Norris
DH: Freiman
IF: Punto
OF: Gentry

It seems weird to basically have three first basemen on the roster, but it is the DH league, and Moss is still an emergency outfielder, so maybe it's not that weird. I suppose it's also possible that Michael Taylor plays himself into the picture for Freiman's spot, given that the option situation of the two means that Taylor can always be cut a month into the season in favor of Freiman.

Stephen Vogt's chances of making the team, if Jaso is a catcher and not a DH, appear to be nil absent injury. His versatility is nice, since he can play first base and outfield as well, but he's a lefty, so who's he going to play over? Cespedes isn't going to platoon, and Vogt bats from the same side as Moss and Barton, so what's the point?

The A's picked up Jake Elmore from the White Sox and designated Andy Parrino. It seemed entirely possible that Parrino could pass through waivers and remain with the team, available in case of an injury stack, but the Rangers claimed him, as they are required to do with all A's utility infielders who have been DFA'd. There's no real reason to say a lot about Elmore. He's here in case Nick Punto falls down the dugout steps.

But hey, that Tyson Ross trade looks like total crap, doesn't it?

I do enjoy that we've got anonymous scout sources citing OPS as the reason why Elmore is better than Parrino.

This is a pretty good ode to Josh Reddick's first robbery of Mike Morse by D.L. Nelson at Athletics Nation. Sometimes you put aside the reality of what's supposed to happen and, if you're a player, go out and do something amazing, and if you're a fan, just lean back and appreciate it. Or pound the table and shout, as Nelson's 90-year-old mother-in-law did.

I've got to say that I don't really get the idea that Reddick's defensive wizardry proves he's healthy. He played good defense last year, too.

Lev Facher is asking the right questions about how the A's will align their infield late in games because of the somewhat extreme offense/defense splits of the Callaspo-Sogard, Punto-Lowrie, and Moss-Barton(?) pairs. The Sogard-Callaspo split isn't as bad as the other two, but you certainly don't want Lowrie defending when Punto is available or Punto batting when Lowrie is available. Same for Barton and Moss. How to fit all six of these players on the 25-man roster is another issue, though the news that John Jaso won't be the designated hitter helps answer the question, given that it makes Stephen Vogt's hold on a roster spot very tenuous.

Speaking of Moss, he's working on bunting, which is a good idea against the shift, particularly in situations like he's talking about. Not-an-out is a lot better than an out.

Also, Jane Lee gets a great quote from Bob Melvin: "I ask each of these guys, beware of your deficiencies and how you can incrementally get better." (I wonder if he actually said "be aware" but either way, I like the idea of focusing on understanding who you are as a player and where you can remedy or compensate for who you are not.)

Craig Gentry's back worries me a lot, not least because we've already lived through Eric Chavez's back (not that Gentry compares to Chavez on the field) and probably other backs I'm forgetting. As Jane Lee's article points out, however, the upside of Gentry missing spring time is that the A's already know Gentry will be on the 25-man roster as long as he's healthy enough to make it. It's not a question. Not having him available to play games, then, means getting to take longer looks at Sam Fuld and Michael Taylor, both of whom are cusp-y and might not be able to make the team without an injury. More information is good.

More on outfielders: here are some nice words about Billy Burns, the A's speed-burner minor leaguer who, reading between the lines, apparently has a wet noodle for a throwing arm.

Here's more on Sean Doolittle's slider. Try not to be giddy, but gosh.

On Doolittle's fastball, here's a caution about knowing the context for your stats: "Nearly 57% of the time, a batter swings at his fastball. The batter only swings and misses 11.8% of the time. This means he isn’t blowing it by people ... ." Per ESPN Stats & Info., among pitchers who threw at least 300 fastballs last year, Doolittle ranked 55th out of 397 in whiffs per swing on the fastball, i.e. he was in the 85th percentile on whiffs per swing on fastballs. Cut the pool down to those who threw at least 750 fastballs? Doolittle is in the 90th percentile of that group. Granted that they threw twice as many fastballs as Doolittle did, he's sandwiched on the leaderboard between Matt Harvey and Max Scherzer. So I would confidently say that Doolittle is blowing it by people.

What in god's name is the point of this.

I would not advocate getting frustrated at the A's losing like their second spring training game, even if it was 11-3, even if it was "at home." I just don't see the point. Nor would I advocate saying Yoenis Cespedes is "not hot" when he's 1-for-6.

Apparently SFGate is just lolwhat these days because they're not even bothering to correct typos in their headlines that have been up for five days.

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