Craig Gentry Brings Flexibility to the A’s
By Jason Burke
Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The recent addition of Craig Gentry could be the biggest trade acquisition that Billy Beane has completed this busy offseason. But how will he fit into an outfield that has already been filled with fan favorites like Crisp, Reddick and Cespedes?
With a nickname like Kitten Face, Gentry should have no problem becoming a fan favorite as well. The easy answer for playing time is that that one of the other three will get hurt and Gentry will fill in for them at such a time. I see Bob Melvin using Gentry in center to give Coco a rest and keep him healthy once or twice a week.
Gentry is a superb defender. Over the last three seasons he ranked 3rd in Defensive Runs Saved while playing many less games than most of the other candidates over that span. He can also help out dramatically with runners in scoring position with 2 outs. He excelled in this spot with a .320 average and a .485 On Base Percentage. This was a sore spot for the A’s, and was magnified in the playoffs last year.
Gentry also brings a knack for getting on base, boasting a career OBP of .355. Once on base, he has an 85% success rate when stealing bases. Coco Crisp is the only other legitimate base stealer on the team, and if Gentry is filling in for Coco, then the offense won’t miss a beat. There is a saying in Oakland, ‘As Coco goes, the A’s go,’ but with the addition of Gentry the A’s will be less reliant on one man to set the table for the team.
It can be assumed that the A’s would love to see a bounce back year from Josh Reddick, who suffered a wrist injury early last year and was bothered by it until the end of the playoffs. The same can be said for Yoenis Cespedes, who seemed to regress at times in his plate discipline, while still showing off his raw power when he made contact. Out of the two, Reddick has more wiggle room because of the cannon he possesses in RF. Cespedes brings more to the plate, but Reddick is more focused on the field. If both of them return to form, Gentry will be used as he was with the Rangers, which was for about 270 plate appearances. However, if either one is struggling, inserting the high average, high OBP of Gentry gives the Athletics a more balanced approach at the plate, and a nice change of looks for opposing pitchers.
Billy Beane is going for it in 2014, and Craig Gentry may be the key to a Championship.