Inbox: Can Cook take over as closer?
Beat reporter Jane Lee answers questions from A's fans
Why not let Ryan Cook close? Are the A's too scared to put him in that role too quickly? He's obviously their best option.
-- Chris N., Danville, Calif.
If the A's are scared, they shouldn't be -- not after the past success they've had with Huston Street and Andrew Bailey, who excelled in the role without much prior Major League experience. If anything, Oakland is scared of locking Cook into one role, when he's essentially the best option in other situations, too. That's why, at least for now, you'll still see him in a sticky seventh or eighth inning.
I'd think Cook isn't far away from securing the ninth-inning job, though. As soon as Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes string together a few good outings, manager Bob Melvin will more easily be able to define roles for all of them. For now, Melvin feels most comfortable handling the relief corps based on matchups and situations.
Who do you think should represent the A's at the All-Star Game? Is this the year we finally send someone who's not a pitcher?
-- Ted B., Sacramento
I'm not so sure about that. An injury-prone Yoenis Cespedes hasn't been able to stay on the field long enough, and Josh Reddick, Oakland's most consistent hitter, appears to be lost in the mix of a bevy of other worthy American League outfielders. That means it's likely another pitcher going, and at this point, I'd suspect and hope it'd be Cook.
Bullpen arms don't receive the same amount of hype as starters do when it comes to the Midsummer Classic, but the managers pick these guys and they look to their peers for insight into some of the under-the-radar options. This is where Melvin comes in and talks up Cook to AL All-Star manager Ron Washington, and it's a safe bet he'll do so. Cook hasn't allowed a run in 23 of his 24 appearances.
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Kurt Suzuki has been subpar at the plate and is also an average thrower. Can you tell me why he doesn't get more days off? Certainly his play doesn't warrant as much playing time as he receives.
-- Travis B., Tucson, Ariz.
I wouldn't go that far, considering the only other catching option right now is Josh Donaldson, who hasn't exactly showcased much of anything at the plate this season.
Suzuki surely isn't the hitter he was in 2008 or '09, nor has he ever boasted the best throwing arm, but he's highly respected by the team's pitching staff. Suzuki naturally sees that work and relationships as his main priority, which is why he'll never ask for a day off -- or even an inning -- despite often being banged up. No one appreciates that grit more than Melvin, who was a catcher during his playing days.
That being said, the A's could of course use an offensive upgrade behind the plate, but isn't that also true of essentially every other position?
It seems like it's never too early to start talking about the Trade Deadline. Which A's players do you see as potential trade candidates? Surely, general manager Billy Beane may want to free up some salary.
-- Jeff M., Stockton, Calif.
Sometimes, it is too early to start talking about the Trade Deadline. I fielded several questions about it back in April, when Balfour appeared to be a logical trade candidate, but it would seem his value has dipped since then given his inconsistent body of work. Ditto for Bartolo Colon, who enjoyed a tremendous April before stumbling in May.
Both pitchers appear to be finding their way back, though, so I'd think either could interest some clubs looking for pitching help. I also wouldn't rule out a possible deal involving Brandon McCarthy, who would be a nice extension candidate for the A's if he weren't injury-prone. He'd be the perfect pickup option for a contending team but of course at a high price.
Suzuki, who is set to make $6.45 million next year (his 2014 team option is worth $8.5 million), is also expendable. Likely heir apparent Derek Norris, acquired in the Gio Gonzalez deal, has performed well offensively for Triple-A Sacramento this year.
When will we see Manny Ramirez? This offense clearly needs some help, especially since Cespedes can't stay healthy.
-- Lars P., Vacaville, Calif.
I don't think that Friday is out of the question, as Ramirez appears to be finding his groove at the plate in Triple-A. If Ramirez feels as comfortable as he looks, I don't think the A's would be afraid to pull the trigger once they're done engaging in Interleague Play at National League ballparks Thursday, particularly if they struggle against Colorado this week as they did in Arizona this past weekend.
That being said, Friday is no guarantee. When the A's bring up Ramirez, whose arrival will likely take away at-bats from Jonny Gomes and Seth Smith, they want him here for good.