Cody Ross and the rebuilding A’s

Posted By on January 2, 2012 12:04 pm

After I wrote yesterday that the A’s were looking into signing Cody Ross, it seems that A’s fans from one end to another had a fit about what a disaster that would be.

So I wanted to make a few points that went beyond the 140-character limitation of Twitter…

First, all I know is the A’s have had preliminary talks with Ross’ people. I don’t know how hard (financially) they plan to go after him, and I don’t know how much interest he has in filling the role they want him to fill. Not long ago, he had his sights set on a three-year deal, or at least a shorter deal in a hitter-friendly park, and he’ll get neither in Oakland.

Whatever the A’s end up giving Ross (or whoever they sign in his place), I’m sure it won’t be enough to fundamentally change their financial outlook in the long-term. The A’s current payroll is somewhere in the $30M $35-40M range (I miscalculated how much the guys making the minimum will add up), if they give a veteran another $2-3M, it’s not going to prohibit them from making any other moves that more fit with the long-term interest of the club (like signing Jorge Soler). I feel confident that Billy Beane understands this, or has his long-term plan not become clear to you? It’s obvious he’s not concerned with winning a few extra games in 2012.

What he is concerned with is developing, and there are more elements to development than simply throwing every unproven player you can find on the field and letting them play.

For one, sometimes guys go in slumps and shouldn’t play anymore. Sometimes they need to sit down for the sake of their own confidence. Sometimes they need to sit down as a wake-up call, so they realize that nothing is being handed to them.

Also, it’s not a great environment for development if you are sending a message to the players that you don’t care about winning. If I’m, say, Michael Taylor, and I’m busting my tail and hitting .300 and I look over in center field and Collin Cowgill is hitting .160 and catching nothing, and the team just keeps patting him on the butt and saying “Go get ‘em Collin! We’re just here for you to learn!” how does that look to Michael Taylor?

Another part of development is being around other players who have developed already. They’ve made the mistakes that you are making, and they can help. You don’t want to have six or seven guys just hanging around the clubhouse dispensing wisdom like Yoda, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few.

No one is going to get short-changed by the presence of Cody Ross or another veteran outfielder like him. There are 2,000-plate appearances to go around for A’s outfielders this year, so that’s plenty for the young guys to get all they can handle, and still have Ross soak up the excess for whatever they can’t. And I promise you, by June, you will be absolutely sick of one of these young guys who right now you can’t fathom the possibility of not seeing seven days a week.

You need to have options. Right now, the A’s don’t have enough.


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