So far so good for the A's, but do you think they can keep playing consistent baseball and winning without Yoenis Cespedes?
-- Rory M., San Francisco, Calif.
Yes, because they were doing this already when a healthy Cespedes wasn't producing. He had just three hits in his first 25 at-bats during a seven-game span and the A's still won five of those games. This is a team that knows not to rely on any one player -- whether it be Cespedes or Josh Reddick, who is also off to a slow start -- and that's why the lineup was built the way it is, with players like Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie and John Jaso, who all can provide both the long ball and small ball.
Cespedes' absence in the lineup is always felt, no doubt, but Seth Smith is really easing that burden right now, especially with his production against left-handers.
What will the team look like when Adam Rosales and Hiro Nakajima come back from the disabled list?
-- Jonathan J., San Leandro, Calif.
Probably not too different than what it looks like now, though the A's might be inclined to option Andy Parrino to Triple-A Sacramento in favor of giving Rosales a roster spot when ready. Though limited in playing opportunities with Eric Sogard drawing the majority of the starts at second base against right-handers, Parrino has just one hit since his promotion. He's a good defender and can play multiple positions, including the outfield, but Rosales meets all those requirements, too, and the A's have always liked having him on hand.
Nakajima, meanwhile, is likely to stay in the Minors for some time. Even when completely healthy, he'll need more than a few at-bats down there to regain his timing and continue recognizing pitches, things that were coming along slowly for him during Spring Training while making the adjustment to big league ball.
What were your impressions of Shane Peterson, and why not keep him on the roster when Brandon Moss returns rather than Michael Taylor?
-- Brian F., Hayward, Calif.
I'd have to see more of Peterson at the big league level to offer a fair assessment, but he's clearly very defensively sound, and I think with more at-bats -- he didn't look completely comfortable at the plate this week -- he could be a nice little dynamic hitter at the bottom of the order. That being said, it would obviously be nice to see what he could do with more time in Oakland, but I think it serves the A's well right now to see what Taylor can do with his opportunity. At 27, Taylor's not exactly young anymore in baseball years, and his role in the organization is increasingly becoming a little hazy, so this is his chance to show them why he should stay.
When do we see Dan Straily back in Oakland? Why even send him down in the first place? Is there any chance he could take Jarrod Parker's spot in the rotation?
-- Liam D., San Jose, Calif.
Parker's not going anywhere, at least not for now. It goes without saying that he hasn't looked himself this season, but the A's are confident that he'll soon be back to form, and there's no reason to doubt that, since he doesn't seem too far off on any of his pitches.
With that being said, don't expect to see Straily back up until the A's absolutely need him. In other words, he'll be promoted the second any starter goes down to injury, but likely not any time before.
What do you think has been the biggest surprise of the season so far? I'm pleasantly surprised that they look like the same team from the second half of last season.
-- Fernando S., Reno, Nev.
While the A's resemble the same feisty club that took home the American League West crown last year, it's important to remember that it's still April and that half of their 12 wins have come against a rebuilding Astros club. However, any month is always a good month to distance yourself from other teams in your division, so the A's have to be happy with this type of start. The confidence they have now really didn't come for them last year until mid-season, and that was a big factor for them down the stretch.
I've been pleasantly surprised by Lowrie's consistent production, as well as what we've seen from Smith, especially against left-handers. In that regard, the same goes for Moss, who used to only be trusted with right-handers on the mound. I didn't think Sogard would continue his Spring Training hitting ways, but that's exactly what he's done.