For most teams, having four talented outfielders vying for three positions would cause some kind of conflict — but with the Oakland Athletics, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Heading into a new season and an Opening Day matchup with Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners, the A’s have arguably one of the most promising outfields in the game. Josh Reddick (fresh off a season that found him hitting 32 home runs and winning a Gold Glove), Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and the newly-acquired Chris Young are all more than capable of playing on an everyday basis and being consistent offensive contributors.
Yet, the A’s — who went quite far in 2012 with a patchwork roster comprised of castaways, rookies, and under the radar types such as Brandon Moss — don’t appear to be dealing with any hostility among the outfield crew.
Young, picked up from the Arizona Diamondbacks in October as part of a three-team deal also involving the Miami Marlins, has mostly been an everyday starter so far in his career. However, with the A’s, he’s expected to be part of a rotating crew involving incumbents Cespedes, Reddick and Crisp.
Given the seemingly inevitable injury bug that seems to bite the A’s every season, though, it makes sense to expect the “four players rotating around three positions” concept to work well. Crisp and Cespedes both missed a handful of games last season with various small injuries, and should that happen again in 2013, players such as Young and the left-handed hitting Seth Smith can easily slide in there to replace them.
Of course, the season hasn’t even begun yet, and all of this is speculation. High-profile players on MLB teams tend to come with certain expectations and personalities. A few weeks down the line, someone might vocalize his discontent with starting only 2-3 games per week, creating a bit of an issue for the team. Should that happen, the A’s would have to make some kind of adjustment.
On the other hand, the calming presence of manager Bob Melvin may win out, providing the A’s with a special kind of outfield durability that ends up helping them protect their American League West division crown. Let’s hope that happens, because how the situation plays out will greatly affect the team’s chances in 2013.