Suffice it to say, it’s a nerve-wracking time to be a fan of the Oakland Athletics. Their team has just narrowly dodged the Tommy John surgery tornado that is circling their neighborhood with A.J. Griffin, whose MRI revealed no structural damage to his elbow, and will just need some rest and rehabilitation before returning to the mound, the team announced. The threat though, is far from over. The TJ tornado is circling back around and is headed directly for Jarrod Parker, who has already dealt with the lengthy recovery once before. News broke this afternoon from various Athletics reporters that Parker would indeed undergo his second Tommy John surgery, and would be lost for the entire 2014 season. The team also announced that Scott Kazmir has been scratched from his next start with tricep tightness. The tornado that has come back and hit the Athletics rotation was a 2 mile wide F5.
Mar 10, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jarrod Parker (11) throws in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
With the likes of Kris Medlen (again), Brandon Beachy (again), Patrick Corbin, and all potentially going under the knife in the near future, Parker joins what is now an extremely talented bunch who may not see a mound in 2014. For the A’s, the Parker injury is nothing short of devastating. Parker was on his way to becoming one of the better young right handers in the league, and now he’ll have to delay his development for at least a full year. As it stands right now, the starting rotation for the A’s would be Sonny Gray, Dan Straily, Jesse Chavez, Tommy Milone, and perhaps Arnold Leon. The likes of Philip Humber, Drew Pomeranz, and Andrew Werner represent the other alternatives from within the organization.
Not exactly the rotation that screams two-time defending division champions with their sights set on a World Series title.
This begs the question now as to whether the team will be forced to look outside the organization for help, CSN’s Joe Stiglich reported that Assistant GM David Forst stated no such plans. There are potential solutions out there, while none of them may present the upside that Parker did. Keep in mind, A.J. Griffin will be back (cross your fingers, they will need him) at some point within the first month or two of the season, and we don’t know the extent of Scott Kazmir’s injury although it is believed to be minor.
What kind of options might the team have via trade or the free agency scrap heap? As Richard Paloma mentioned, Jeff Samardzija of the Chicago Cubs has been dangled all offseason, but the A’s don’t figure to get into a bidding war for his services, or there’s Yovani Gallardo of the Milwaukee Brewers, whose best days may already be behind him and has shown a drastic decrease in velocity in the last couple years. On the scrap heap? How about the likes of Jon Garland, Jeff Karstens, Jair Jurrjens, and…. gulp, Barry Zito?
It’s not over dramatizing the situation to call it dire for the Athletics. Their perceived strength, their pitching staff, has taken a severe blow and the weight of the entire season and all the expectations that come with it rest on the shoulders of Sonny Gray and Dan Straily to take the next steps in their development, and on Scott Kazmir to step forward and become the leader of this staff. By the looks of it, if this team is to win their third straight AL West title, it may turn out to be the most impressive accomplishment of this era in Athletics history.