By Jason Wojciechowski on March 4, 2015 at 9:57 PM

Today's big (big?) news is that Coco Crisp will be a left fielder this season for the A's as they try to keep him healthy for a full year, keeping his bat in the lineup and his legs on the basepaths. The position is also a better fit for his arm, though it theoretically "wastes" his range, assuming that at 35 and with a season of awful defensive statistics in center behind him, the range is what it was.

Still, the change doesn't wreak much havoc on the roster, which is a benefit of having three center fielders among your four (or five, if you count Mark Canha, or, hell, six, if you count Stephen Vogt, or, hell, seven if you count Ben Zobrist, but you get the point) outfielders -- the A's can just take the left field platoon they were going to run out (Fuld and Gentry) and put it in center, leaving everything else happily in place. For what I think the roster looks like now check out the roster page. If you click to the most recent prior version, the only thing this move does is swap left and center and clean up the substitution situation when Crisp needs to DH, as he'll surely need to do from time to time even if he's a left fielder instead of in center.

What's interesting to ponder is whether this lasts all year. The A's have tried this before, sliding him to left in favor of Yoenis Cespedes, but that fell apart fairly quickly and Crisp resumed his usual position after his famous "demigod" comments. Given that Fuld can't hit and Gentry might not be able to either, it's not hard to see one or both of them failing to finish the year with the A's. There's also the possibility of injury or even the acquisition of a slugger type for left field. Will the A's take themselves out of the picture for any such trade because they see Crisp as a permanent left fielder, or will they entertain the possibility that he could slide back over?

Crisp's comments on the move were Crispian, expressing the basic idea that he'd still rather play center and supreme belief in himself to do so while simultaneously basically saying he's not going to raise a ruckus about it. There's a certain amount of faith the A's are putting in Bob Melvin's player-handling and ego-massaging abilities; based on everything else we've seen from him, I certainly hope this is the strength of his managerial game it's made out to be.

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By Jason Wojciechowski on February 28, 2015 at 12:12 AM

The A's claimed Alex Hassan off waivers yesterday from Baltimore, who needed room to add Everth Cabrera to the roster. Oakland cleared room on their own 40-man by moving A.J. Griffin, who isn't due back from Tommy John surgery until something like June, to the 60-day disabled list. Hassan's a Duke product with a .396 career minor-league OBP but not much power. He's limited to the corners and has a total of nine career major-league plate appearances. He's unlikely to make an impact for the A's, but he's a nice bit of depth at a weak position for the A's: The corner outfield chart has Josh Reddick, which is a good thing to have, but it also has Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld, with Billy Burns waiting in the minors in case of injury. Hassan isn't an upgrade on any of those players, but at least gives Oakland someone to turn to if, say, Fuld eats the whole wheel of cheese.

I have updated the current roster page, the fringes of the 40-man page (where I rank Hassan fourth most likely to be DFA'd), and the generations of A's page, which also now includes Chad Smith, giving the A's a total of 19 first-generation players out of the 42 on the 40-man roster plus 60-day disabled list.

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By Jason Wojciechowski on February 26, 2015 at 10:25 PM

The A's claimed Chad Smith off waivers from the Tigers today, taking the opportunity presented by Taylor Thompson needing to hit the 60-day disabled list with a shoulder injury. I don't have much to say about the transaction. You can check out the roster page and the fringe page to see where I think Smith fits in, in terms of his place on the depth chart and his likelihood of being cut.

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By Jason Wojciechowski on February 18, 2015 at 10:30 PM

Another week, another Minors Wrap. I should come up with some sort of clever name, but I probably won't.

In any event, as there is yet again no minor-league action to talk about, let's instead examine one Branch Kloess, who the A's signed to a minor-league contract on February 11th.

Google shows Branch Kloess is a lawyer who was charged with obstruction of justice for entering a guilty plea on behalf of someone who, it is alleged, he knew to be using a false name. The question for the appellate court is whether a particular provision of the law was an element of the obstruction of justice offense (and thus needed to be alleged and proven by the prosecution) or an affirmative defense (with the burden on the defendant to prove it if he is to make use of it). The Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which covers Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, ruled in what might be broadly characterized as the more government-friendly or defendant-unfriendly manner, holding that it was an affirmative defense. That was in 2001.

So after serving his jail time, presumably, Kloess started playing professional baseball at the age of 24 in 2009. He spent a little time in the Frontier League before signing with the White Sox. He played in Chicago's system through 2012, reaching Triple-A, before spending the last two years with San Diego, playing in Tucson and El Paso, both Triple-A squads, where he put up a combined 5.95 RA/9, which is on the one hand brutal and on the other hand a bit less brutal than it looks because of how horrific it is to pitch in Tucson and El Paso. (Did I tell you about how I saw Sacramento go back-to-back-to-back in Tucson? That was cool as hell. Jeremy Barfield hit one of those dongers.)

I have now told you everything there is on the Internet about Branch Kloess.

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