On Sunday in the ninth inning, with left-hander Oliver Perez on the mound and Eric Sogard coming to the plate, Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin did what he always does in that situation, and removed his second baseman for a pinch hitter. But as Adam Rosales busily gathered his glove in the dugout, rookie first baseman Nate Freiman strode to the plate to face the Seattle Mariners veteran left-hander.
So now, Rosales, who definitely doesn’t hit against righties, apparently also doesn’t hit against some lefties in important late-game situations. It’s hard to fault Melvin, as Rosales is currently two for his last 26 and hitting .162 in the June, but if Rosales had even a shred of confidence left it must be gone now. Also, while it didn’t matter in yesterday’s game, it clearly limits Melvin’s bench options when he has to to burn a guy like Freiman just to avoid letting Rosales hit.
When Rosales did take the field in the ninth, he wasn’t playing shortstop either. That’s the second time in his last three appearances as a defensive replacement that Rosales has played at second while Jed Lowrie has remained at short.
Perhaps, the team has begun to begrudgingly accept that for all his defensive shortcomings, Lowrie is, in fact, the best option at shortstop. Lowrie certainly lacks range and has a questionable arm, but his bat has been incredible. The infielder has already collected 11 three-hit games in 2013.
Rosales is largely still in the majors for two reasons: the team can’t just send him down because he’s out of options and because he can play short, and the ability to play shortstop on the MLB-level should not be undervalued. There are simply not enough players who are both athletic enough to play the position, and who also can hit. Just look at Brendan Ryan, who currently is hitting .199 for the Mariners.
But the problem is that Rosales is no longer even playing shortstop, which is seemingly his greatest value to the team. All of this leads me to believe that Rosales is not going to be in Oakland for long. If the team does decide to make a change, there are a number of options looming in Sacramento.
Gran Green would be the best choice if the team wants a new platoon partner for Sogard. Green has mashed lefties to the tune of a .367 average in 2013, and has reportedly improved his defense at second. But Hiro Nakajima and Jemile Weeks are also both worth considering.
I was impressed by both when I saw the River Cats play a couple of weeks ago. Nakajima has an explosive swing, and even though he only has four home runs for the River Cats, he has a history of hitting long balls in Japan. Weeks looked every bit the dynamic player he’d been back in 2011 as he picked up a pair of singles. If the Athletics want to find an unlikely spark, Weeks might be it.