When looking at the starting roster for the Oakland Athletics as the season wears down, there is a notable amount of youth starting in nearly every position. Some have been there since the beginning like Mark Canha and Marcus Semien, but now they are not alone.
Some of the youth movement is due to injuries and health concerns. Some of it is due to ineffectiveness. No matter the reason, though, players like Josh Phegley, Billy Burns and Jake Smolinski have taken on more prominent roles with the team.
These five players in particular have not only worked their way into a regular role, they’ve also made an impact. Burns is arguably the team’s most valuable offensive player while Canha has vastly improved his numbers in the second half and has become a leading contributor, locking himself into the two spot in the lineup behind Burns.
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Phegley has been slowly earning more playing time as the season wore on in large part because of his exceptional defense and timely hitting. Smolinski worked his way in after being claimed via waivers from the Texas Rangers by demolishing AAA pitching while Semien has been laser focused from the beginning.
These five could form a core for the future of this team after taking advantage of their opportunities, but going forward it is already obvious that this team cannot win as is.
So what do the A’s do to remedy this situation?
The Oakland Athletics essentially have three options. They can continue with what they have and try to add one or two minor pieces in hopes that everything clicks, they can trade off some of this youth for an impact player to build around or they can continue getting rid of the veterans and dig deeper into the youth movement.
This is what the Athletics need to do. It is time to say goodbye to Coco Crisp and let Smolinski prove that he can be the everyday left fielder. They need to let Ike Davis walk this offseason, unless of course he is ready to become a relief pitcher, and work out Max Muncy at first base. Let Josh Reddick get a change of scenery and insert Canha in the outfield permanently. Finally, it’s time to stop believing that Stephen Vogt is an everyday catcher and let Phegley control the game.
The time is now to commit to the change and make 2016 the year of youth in the lineup.