Inbox: How far can Cespedes' bat carry A's?
Beat reporter Jane Lee answers fans' questions
Can Yoenis Cespedes carry this team? And do you think he has any chance of making the All-Star team?
-- Alex M., Emeryville, Calif.
Cespedes can only do so much, and unless he hits a home run in every other at-bat, he'll need support from the eight guys around him to help score runs. This team appears to be decent enough to put together stretches that make you start thinking of it as a sleeper team, but there's simply not enough offense outside Cespedes to necessitate consistency, which is unfortunate, because the pitching staff has been surprisingly superb in April.
As for the All-Star Game, I think it would be a perfect setting for Cespedes to show off his talents to fans who may not get to see him in action often. But those same fans, the ones who don't take in many A's games, likely haven't seen enough of him to lend him a vote on the ballot. At the very least, he should have been placed on the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll, considering the entertainment value of his batting practice shows every day.
I thought Jemile Weeks was a high-average guy. What's going on with him this season?
-- Travis B., San Leandro, Calif.
The season is still young, and I expect Weeks will bump up his .200 average in due time. It's worth noting that he seems to be hitting more balls in the air in the early going, when the A's really need him to hit the ball on the ground on a regular basis, given the speed he offers. The young Weeks is well known for making adjustments quickly, and this is something he's surely honing in on. To be fair, he's obviously not the only one struggling, and I'd suspect a better overall offensive effort could be contagious and potentially lead him in the right direction.
Why not take a look at Adam Rosales or Wes Timmons at third base before picking up Luke Hughes? If they're not a part of the organization's future, why does management pretend that they are?
-- Nico D., Reno, Nev.
I was a bit surprised myself when Hughes was brought on board, rather than Rosales, but it seems the A's prefer to use him at the big league level in more of a utility role, like Eric Sogard. That said, Oakland has always been high on Sogard, but if his offensive struggles continue, the club could choose to swap him for Rosales, who has been hanging around the .300 mark at Triple-A Sacramento all month. Timmons, meanwhile, is struggling to reach the Mendoza Line, so I wouldn't be surprised if his turn doesn't come until September as a callup, assuming he gets one.
For now, Hughes will see the majority of time at third base, and he'll be given every opportunity to grab hold of the everyday role. My guess is the merry-go-round at the position could continue all year.
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I know it's early, but do you see the A's being active in the trade market in the upcoming months? I'd think they would be, but if they're winning, does that change things?
-- Jesse N., Petaluma, Calif.
I can't imagine their win total dictating their activity on the trade market. No matter their record, if general manager Billy Beane sees an opportunity to reel in a crop of young talent to fill out his once-depleted farm system, he's more than likely going to go through with it, at the right price. I'd think Grant Balfour is already a popular name for clubs looking for relief help, and given Bartolo Colon's body of work up to this point, you'd have to assume he'll draw heavy interest from contenders looking for that last bit of pitching at the Trade Deadline.
Don't forget about Kurt Suzuki, whose four-year deal is set to expire following the 2013 season. Suzuki will be making $6.45 million next year (his 2014 team option is worth $8.5 million), and Oakland wouldn't be afraid to dump his salary in favor of bringing up Derek Norris, should he continue to excel in Sacramento, where he's hitting .357 with a .978 OPS. Norris, ranked No. 7 among A's prospects, hasn't finished a season above .250 since 2009, leading to much talk surrounding his offensive decline, but if he keeps it up, he could be in Oakland with fellow former National Tommy Milone sooner than expected.
Who would you say have been the biggest surprises this year?
-- Greg H., San Jose, Calif.
I think Jordan Norberto has been a pleasant surprise in the bullpen, where he's finally showcasing the command he never had last year. He's already been used in several roles, whether it's for one out in the seventh inning or two in extra frames, as was the case in Wednesday's thrilling walk-off win. Elsewhere on the roster, I'd have to go with Milone. I figured he'd hold his own in the rotation, but to do what he's done so far -- he has a 2.00 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP in four starts -- has definitely exceeded my expectations.
How is Ken Korach doing? I speak for all A's fans in saying that we all miss his voice and hope is recovery is coming along nicely. Please pass along the message to him.
-- Ben D., Dublin, Calif.
Korach is on the mend from knee reconstruction surgery and, barring any setbacks, I hear he's supposed to be back at the Coliseum during the next homestand that begins May 8, which is great news. From then on, he's expected to return to his everyday role, alongside Vince Cotroneo, in the radio booth. I know he appreciates all of the well wishes that have been sent his way during this time.