Cactus League Opener: Lineup Analysis


In just about 13 hours from the moment I’m typing these words, the Oakland Athletics will take the field and face off against the Milwaukee Brewers in Maryvale, AZ in the opening game of the 2013 Cactus League.  Normally I wouldn’t do an analysis of the everyday lineup the night before the game takes place, especially since the lineups aren’t released that far in advance normally.  But this is a very special occasion, the 2013 edition of the Athletics will finally square off against opposing teams and that is undoubtedly a big deal.

February 18, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics shortstop

Hiroyuki Nakajima

(3) poses for a picture during photo day at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The lineup was posted by the official Athletics Twitter account this morning, and it’s very interesting to say the least.  Of course one shouldn’t read a whole lot into the lineup that is conspicuously missing Yoenis Cespedes and Coco Crisp.  For those not inclined to click the link, the lineup is as follows:

1. Jemile Weeks, 2B

2. Hiroyuki Nakajima, SS

3. Josh Reddick, RF

4. Brandon Moss, 1B

5. Seth Smith, LF

6. Chris Young, CF

7. John Jaso, C

8. Josh Donaldson, 3B

9. Scott Sizemore, DH

P. Jesse Chavez, RHP

Aside from the fact that Scott Sizemore is at the DH spot, this lineup looks more or less like a version of a regular season lineup we could see.  Of course without Crisp and Cespedes, who have been known to miss games unfortunately, the outfield looks a bit different as well.  The most interesting facet of this lineup though is right at the top of the order.

This time last year Jemile Weeks was thought to be the one member of the team that could be counted on to produce.  As we all know he did far from that in 2012.  But Bob Melvin is intent on giving everyone a shot to claim a spot in the lineup and maximize their own playing time.  Putting Weeks in at 2nd for the first game, and  right at the top of the order as well is something of an assurance that Melvin will indeed give him a fair shot.  It is just one game though, so no lasting conclusions can be drawn and if he shows himself to be the same Jemile Weeks from 2012 his audition might be brief.

Hiro Nakajima is an intriguing placeholder for the second spot in the lineup, I would have expected to see John Jaso there perhaps with this particular personnel.  Not making him wait around to get his first taste of MLB action is surely a good idea.

The heart of the order isn’t much different that ones we saw in 2012, Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, and Seth Smith providing a left handed power trio to navigate through in the early going.  Chris Young will get to show off his centerfield skills from the six spot, getting a chance to show why the A’s waste zero time in acquiring him in October.

John Jaso, Josh Donaldson, and Scott Sizemore will round out the lineup, with little surprise there aside from the aforementioned DH start for Sizemore.  Scott did miss a couple days for the birth of his first daughter, so perhaps they’re just easing him back into things as he might be ever so slightly behind the others.

Jesse Chavez will make the start, well… because somebody has to.  With this extended Spring Training due to the World Baseball Classic, the A’s will want to bring along the members of their projected rotation gradually.  Chavez pitched poorly in his brief time with the team in 2012, so this will be a good chance for him to show the A’s something against the Brewers starters (or at least some of them).

The games mean nothing, but once the schedule gets underway we’ll certainly begin to see trends and start to get some ideas as to who might win some of the position battles that are about to take place.  Bottome line, baseball is back and that’s the most important part of it all.