I understand the A's have the choice of bringing back Brett Anderson as either a starter or reliever, but which option do you think is best for the club at the moment? We can't wait to have him back.
-- Danny M., San Rafael, Calif.
The A's could put him to good use in both roles, but I think more so in a starting one, based on some of the inconsistencies we've seen with the rotation lately. There are still nine games before rosters expand on Sept. 1, and Oakland should be able to get by in the bullpen without any added help until then. But the rotation could use an immediate boost, with A.J. Griffin, Tommy Milone and Dan Straily all struggling to produce consistently quality outings of late.
Anderson returned from Tommy John surgery around this time last year. The impact was immediate and significant, and I'd suspect the same this time around as well. When teams are in a rut, a fresh face can often spark some life into play.
Do you think we see John Jaso back this season? I realize one player isn't going to fix the A's problems right now, but Jaso was doing really well before he was put on the disabled list, and I think not having him has really hurt the team.
-- Greg Z., Berkeley, Calif.
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I don't see Jaso returning before the regular season ends. Teams typically don't rush players no matter the injury, but they have to be extra cautious with concussion patients, considering the long-term effects that can surface if not treated with care. Jaso's still suffering from common symptoms, but he hit off a tee this week, which was the first time he participated in baseball activity since going on the disabled list. He'll have to graduate to more cage work and live batting practice -- there's no telling when that will be -- before he embarks on a rehab assignment.
The A's would do well by adding a catcher off waivers, with Derek Norris (broken left toe) also relegated to the bench for at least a couple of days, not for upgrade purposes, since Stephen Vogt is doing a nice job, but for depth.
Obviously the A's don't have the same second-half mojo they did last year. You have to wonder where they'd be if they had brought back the exact same team, though I guess that never happens with any club. But if there was one thing you could do over about Oakland's offseason last year, what would it be?
-- Brent K., Seattle
It would have to be the decision to not re-sign Jonny Gomes, since bringing him back would've prevented them from giving away Cliff Pennington for Chris Young.
At the time, that deal with the D-backs seemed like a steal, since the A's were getting an above-average defensive outfielder with some pop in Young in exchange for a shortstop who struggled to hit. Pennington could be easily replaced, and Young gave them the bat they lost in Gomes, right? Right, except Gomes' bat would've proved more impactful and at a lower cost -- he's making $5 million this year with Boston, while Young is bringing home $8.5 million -- and Oakland could've kept Pennington's glove.
It's Pennington's defense they're really missing, particularly when turning double plays. Jed Lowrie has held his own, but hasn't been exceptional at shortstop. He could just as easily take over at second base, providing the same consistency in the lineup he has all year, with the A's able to keep Eric Sogard on the bench.
Who do you think will be called up when rosters expand?
-- Jason M., Fresno, Calif.
The A's typically don't overdo it when rosters expand, only bringing aboard players they feel can truly help the team in some way, partially as something of a reward for their work at Triple-A. I'd have to think relief help would be the first priority, so expect Evan Scribner back up, and maybe Hideki Okajima as well.
As for position players, perhaps some speed by way of Jemile Weeks. And if they do need additional outfield bodies, with Josh Reddick's wrist ailing again and Coco Crisp still on the mend, we might see Shane Peterson and/or Michael Taylor.