What sort of situation would we have to get to for the A's to look outside the organization for pitching help?
The time is probably now with so many question marks in the rotation, though it appears they're set to forge on with what they have, at least for the moment -- particularly since there's not much available out there right now. However, I'd think it would only take one more starter either going down or greatly struggling to convince them to seek outside help. Their depth can only carry them so far, and it's already thinned significantly with Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin out with injury. Moreover, they seemingly don't have as many of those ready-to-win young pitchers as they did in the two years prior, so an additional proven arm would only be beneficial.
Nate Freiman, Michael Taylor and Sam Fuld seem to be on the bubble. Who has the upper hand for a final roster spot? What will become of them?
There's a chance none of them make the roster, but that only happens if Craig Gentry is deemed ready for Opening Day. Gentry has yet to make his Cactus League debut, and if the A's want to give him more at-bats ahead of the season and backdate a DL stint, it's almost guaranteed they would carry Fuld. Taylor has had a great spring, but he doesn't quite fit the profile of a fourth outfielder like Fuld does, and Fuld is the more experienced one with a pair of opt-out dates in his pocket. So it's more likely the A's try to trade Taylor here in the next week, because it's almost guaranteed he wouldn't pass through waivers.
Freiman, meanwhile, is probably destined for Triple-A Sacramento to start the season, with the A's going with Brandon Moss and Daric Barton at first base. Freiman gives them great depth, though, and proved his worth as a right-handed bat last year, so I'm sure he'd return to the big leagues at some point this year.
What ever happened to Hiroyuki Nakajima?
Nakajima is in Minor League camp this year after spending all of 2013 with Triple-A Sacramento. He's joined the big league team's travel squad a handful of times this spring, as is normal for several Minor Leaguers, and picked up a couple of hits on Tuesday. That was the first time manager Bob Melvin had seen him play third base, which several scouts believe to be his best position. Still, he has a long way to go on both sides of the game, and it's unlikely he sees time with the A's this year, barring a barrage of injuries to the infield.
Derek Norris, over or under 120 starts at catcher, barring injury?
-- Nico D., Concord, Calif.
Under, easily, because the A's won't face that many left-handers this year. No matter how well he does, Norris will remain in a platoon. As Melvin said Wednesday morning, "Even if he does hit righties better this year, he'd have to hit them better than the guy that we have on the other side." That guy is John Jaso, who reached base at a .405 percentage against righties last year.