Issue: Speed at the top
Analysis: It’s nice that the A’s, who clearly lack the type of power with which you typically associate American League success, have enough burners to stack the top of their batting order with players who, in theory, can help negate that lack by flooding the bases and putting a different brand of pressure on pitchers.
Jemile Weeks, Cliff Pennington and Coco Crisp occupied the top three spots in Wednesday’s season opener against the Seattle Mariners in Japan, and the hope is that they’ll all be on base enough to create RBI opportunities that don’t require the presence of traditional sluggers to cash in.
A double by cleanup man Josh Reddick — yes, you read that correctly — or Cuban newcomer Yoenis Cespedes will have to do, rather than the three-run jack you might have expected from Jason Giambi or Eric Chavez back in the day.
But can you really take the A’s seriously with Crisp batting third? No. For that reason alone — aesthetics — Oakland manager Bob Melvin should reconsider and throw Cespedes right into the fire as the focal point of the A’s offense.
Crisp is a top-of-the-order guy. In fact, he’s a leadoff man. And as loathe to reward petulance as we are in this space, perhaps it might be wise to appease Crisp, who remains sour about losing his job in center to Cespedes, by giving him the honor of leading off.
Weeks has more power and better bat control than Crisp, so he’d fit quite nicely in the No. 2 spot for the time being, and Pennington in the No. 9 spot makes a great deal of sense, too.
That puts Cespedes, the best hitter on the team already and in possession of more than a little of that traditional pop, in the spot where most teams put their best hitter, anyway.