For a little over a month now, I’ve sat back helplessly as the Oakland Athletics have surrendered a healthy division league and severely jeopardized a third straight postseason appearance. In the midst of an uncontrollable cacophony of patented Brandon Moss strikeouts, bullpen walkathons, maligned managerial misfires, fundamental defensive failures, and overall bad luck – there lies Alberto Callaspo.
The diminutive Venezuelan left a decent impression on Athletics fans last season, slashing his way to a .270/.350/.409 line in 180 plate appearances after being acquired at the trade deadline. Showcasing a propensity to provide a professional at-bat, Callaspo was somewhat of a secret weapon off the bench while platooning with Eric Sogard at second base successfully during the bulk of the second half of 2013. While his defensive skills were nothing to write home about, his solid 22.4 LD% and strong K/BB ratio made him at an appealing role player for 2014.
Somewhat displaced by the addition of Nick Punto over the offseason, Callaspo began this season as a jack-of-all-trades even seeing time at first base despite his limited defensive value. A relatively hot start to the season warranted a greater amount of playing time and with the hamstring injury to Punto, Callaspo teamed up once again with Sogard during the second half to handle the bulk of the duties at the second base position.
The result? Disaster.
While Sogard pulled his weight for the most part, Callaspo provided next to nothing during the second half with a .214/.268/.268 mark while showcasing all the range of a banana slug at his position as his -3 UZR rating will attest to. Somewhat symbolic of Oakland’s struggles, Callaspo’s general lack of competent play combined with his low-energy approach proved to be a fatal mix during Punto’s prolonged absence. To point the sole blame on him would be erroneous, however for anyone who closely watched Oakland’s deep despair of foul play leading into the Seattle series – it was abundantly clear that Callaspo provided no benefit with his lackluster play.
Seemingly back to a bench role, manager Bob Melvin can use Callaspo in a pure bench role. Serving as a late-inning pinch-hitter such as he did in Saturday night’s victory and as a fill-in at designated hitter and third base. Essentially, the less seen of him the better.