By Jason Wojciechowski on April 25, 2015 at 9:51 AM
Ben Zobrist has hit the disabled list with a torn meniscus in his knee. He missed a few days, tried to designatedly hit last night, and apparently it didn't go so well, so now he's on the DL. I have to imagine that Zobrist is likely to go under the knife at this point, and the reports are that it would be a three- to six-week injury in that case, so the lack of backdating won't come into play. (UPDATE: Surgery it is.)
Up in Zobrist's place is Max Muncy, the A's fifth-round pick in 2012 and the consensus no. 18 A's prospect heading into the season. That's a spot ahead of Mark Canha, for whatever that's worth. (Nothing, really. These ranks aren't anywhere near finely grained enough to, even in the aggregate, give people meaningful actual ranks.) Muncy is a corner infielder, mostly a first baseman, and a lefty hitter. He's not going to play over Ike Davis at first, especially not with the latter hitting .353/.414/.490 to start the year, and he's not going to DH over Billy Butler. In fact, it's unclear where Muncy fits at all, given that both he and Eric Sogard (the other second baseman on the team besides Zobrist) are lefties.1 Tyler Ladendorf would have been a better fit, particularly as he's already on the 40-man, but he's on the disabled list in Nashville.
The real question, then, is: why not Joey Wendle? He had a mediocre year at Double-A last year, but still showed enough that the A's liked him for Brandon Moss, and it's not like Muncy set the world on fire: a .264/.385/.379 line is nobody's idea of a top corner prospect. And then the obvious point: the A's don't currently have a very good option to play second base against lefties.
Service time issues don't seem likely to be in play, given that regardless of whether it's Muncy or Wendle coming up to the majors, they're sure to be optioned back down to Nashville as soon as Zobrist is ready to come back, so nobody's likely to accumulate enough time to wind up with Super Two status down the road.
Obviously scouting comes into this more than stats, though, and maybe the A's evaluators just don't think Wendle is ready to succeed in the majors.
By the way, the A's bullpen shuffle caused by Jesse Hahn's blister has resulted in some transactions I haven't talked about yet: Hahn is still on the roster, and just needed to skip a start (at least for now), which means Jesse Chavez took a turn in the rotation (which, by the way, is why it's so great to have Chavez around), which means the team needed (or, really, wanted) someone who could go long in the bullpen, which means R.J. Alvarez got sent out for Arnold Leon, who made his big-league debut in Anaheim on Wednesday (I was there!), who then himself got sent out for Chris Bassitt, I guess/think because Bassitt wasn't on turn to start on Wednesday the way Leon was? I don't actually know. Leon pitched in a blowout, and Bassitt isn't any more likely to get high-leverage work.
Oh, and in all this, Eury De La Rosa got designated for assignment because the A's needed a 40-man spot for Muncy. I'd had Chad Smith as more likely to go before De La Rosa but that turned out wrong. There's potential here that he's not good enough to get claimed on waivers, but, as he's optionable, it seems likely that there's some team out there that can move someone to the 60-day DL or figure De La Rosa is worth DFAing2 someone else.
Also, Jarrod Parker has been sent on his rehab assignment; those are capped at 30 days, so unless he has a setback that requires the A's to re-DL him, he'll be back with the A's before the calendar turns to June. Exciting? I guess! Kendall Graveman's struggling right now, so it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to option him to Triple-A to see if he can figure out how to succeed in the majors. Parker's no ace, but in this rotation, he's probably the no. 4, and that's a decent position to be in.
The answer today, for what it's worth, is that Muncy is playing third base with a righty on the mound. Lawrie sits. I can't imagine the A's will be willing to forego Lawrie's defense at third every time they face a right-hander, so this is probably more a "get him in the lineup for his debut" situation, as Bob Melvin has noted in the past he likes to do, than a sign of things to come. ↩