By Jason Wojciechowski on May 7, 2015 at 8:48 PM
Boy howdy, you go away from a little bit, you miss a few games, you let the blog lie for a minute and all hell breaks loose, the bullpen can't do a damn thing right, and Billy Beane decides to turn over half his roster in two blinks of an eye.
Some of that turnover is simply Good: Coco Crisp is back, and Craig Gentry's going to go figure out how to swing his bat in Nashville. He was apparently surprised by his demotion, but he had options left, so there's almost no reason not to, unless you're so worried about his reaction that you think it's a bad idea, and if his feelings are that easily hurt, he probably shouldn't be a professional athlete.
Whether keeping Billy Burns while sending Gentry down makes sense given the rosters is something others have examined, but I'm not sure I see much distinction in terms of flexibility or anything else. This seems to come down to the basic question of whether Burns or Gentry is likely to be better at baseball over the next month, and the A's made the judgment that the answer is Burns. That's more of an insult to Gentry than it is an expression of faith in the slap-hitting 25-year-old, but who knows: Maybe Burns really can be the second coming of Brett Butler.
None of that is going to matter if the A's can't pick up the pace in the late innings. If the season ended today, they'd have the worst bullpen ERA in Oakland history, albeit just the 11th-worst FIP. To mitigate the despair, though, recall that (a) the season does not end today (b) Sean Doolittle should be back at some point (c) Eric O'Flaherty is either done for the year or should be healthy when he returns (d) Fernando Abad has had success in the past (e) RJ Alvarez is a well-regarded young reliever (f) Dan Otero has had success in the past (g) Chris Bassitt is ... he's something and (h) Tyler Clippard is a very good pitcher. (On the other hand, Evan Scribner probably isn't this good. Maybe his new cutter is magical! Probably not, though.) That's a bunch of things to feel okay about going forward, and none of them involve Ryan Cook getting his [stuff] together, which I think we can just sort of count out at this point. Not that it'll never happen, but that why convince ourselves it will? Put him out of your mind and maybe we'll be surprised.