TORONTO - In trying to patch together an even mediocre hitting lineup with their now familiar Moneyball blueprint, the Oakland A’s are expected to deploy several platoons this season. Fortunately, prior to most drafts and auctions, we caught a glimpse of what to expect when the A’s, in Tokyo, faced a Mariners team that went righty-lefty for the two-game set. Against RHP Felix Hernandez, the A’s sent out Eric Sogard at 3B, Brandon Allen at 1B and Seth Smith at DH. Should the A’s stick with this plan, these are the guys who should see around 400 ABs and give at least the latter two some fantasy value. When the M’s sent LHP Jason Vargas to the hill on Thursday, the A’s countered with Kila Ka’aihue at 1B, Josh Donaldson at 3B and Jonny Gomes as DH — none of whom merit mixed-league consideration.
• One position where the A’s did not platoon, as anticipated, was in RF where left-handed hitting Josh Reddick started both games. After going hitless against King Felix, Reddick went 2-for-3 with Vargas starting, including a towering solo homer off lefty RP George Sherrill. Reddick hit a respectable .275 in 40 ABs against southpaws last season, but Collin Cowgill would get some starts against LHPs should he falter.
• With newly signed closer Ryan Madson out for the year following Tommy John surgery, most expected Sean Marshall to get the ninth-inning gig in Cincinnati. The Reds, though, are keeping their options open. Marshall, however, has everything a quality closer needs and we’re figuring he winds up with the job in the end. The biggest threat may turn out to be Aroldis Chapman, who has been tabbed for the rotation.
• The Royals say that, with Joakim Soria (elbow) out for the year, they are likely going to give veteran Jonathan Broxton first crack at the closer’s job. Yes, Greg Holland may be the better pitcher right now, but letting the more experienced Broxton close makes it easier for them to trade him and his one-year, $4-million contract later in the season before he walks again.
• Spring stats mean little, of course, but Rays SP Jeremy Hellickson had to have his owners sweating after giving up a whopping 17 runs over three consecutive starts covering eight innings. Fortunately, the young righty got it together on Thursday, allowing only a Brian Schneider solo homer in seven IPs against the Phillies.
• Hard to figure what you’re going to get from Ryan Braun this season. First there was the steroid scandal, then losing Prince Fielder as lineup protection hitting behind him. And batting just .176 in spring training sure doesn’t help. However, while there are fantasy owners who have decided to let someone else gamble on Braun, the Brewers’ all-star still has enough believers that he is going among the top three outfielders in most mixed-league mock drafts.
• Really can’t see this happening, but the New York Post postulates that the Yankees could keep Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia at the back end of their rotation, which would mean that Michael Pineda would open the season in the minors. More likely, Pineda lands on the DL after feeling a little soreness in his shoulder following Friday’s rough outing against Philly.
Forecasts are divided on Mike Uggla who hit a career-high 36 HRs last year but a career-low .233 in his first season with the Braves. Don’t know what to go by in ranking him: That highly publicized 33-game hit streak, or the combined .194 average he hit on either side of it?
LINE OF THE WEEK
Yu Darvish, TEX
IP H R ER BB SO HR
6 6 3 3 1 11 1
Against the Rockies on Friday, faced Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez six times and struck them out all six times.
BEST OF MARCH
Top spring hitters
Eric Hosmer, KC
.429, 5 HRs, 28 RBIs, 3 SBs
Alfonso Soriano, CHC
.333, 6 HRs, 16 RBIs
Dee Gordon, LAD
.382, 10 SBs, 3 triples
Cody Ross, BOS
.366, 6 HRs, 15 RBIs
Mariners’ new DH/C Jesus Montero went 1-for-7 in the two Tokyo games, but saw only 17 total pitches.
Players we know, or expect, will open the season on the 15-day DL: Ryan Howard, Stephen Drew, Carl Crawford, Michael Morse, Brian Roberts, Corey Hart, Grady Sizemore, Chase Utley, Carlos Quentin, Mike Carp, Chipper Jones, Salvador Perez, Franklin Gutierrez, Ted Lilly, Tim Hudson, Dustin McGowan, A.J. Burnett, Drew Storen and Ryan Vogelsong … Josh Hamilton has a sore groin but should be okay … Shaun Marcum (shoulder) looks like he’ll be ready after throwing five IPs in a minor-league game Friday … Jed Lowrie (thumb) won’t have to go on the DL … Michael Cuddyer took a pitch off his fingers Friday but nothing is broken.
Drew Pomeranz, SP, Rockies
A top pitching futures, he was optioned out Friday after an outstanding spring. The Rox, however, can get by with four SPs for the next couple of weeks, at which time he is expected to be brought back.
Mike Trout, OF, Angels
Baseball’s top prospect will finally pay his triple-A dues thanks to a loaded Angels outfield. He hit just .220 in 135 in ABs straight out of double-A last season, but five HRs and four bags are more representative of what he can do.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
A .364 spring (with two HRs) wasn’t enough to keep him from being sent back to triple-A for the time being. Bryan LaHair has pop in his bat, but holes in his swing and will be able to hold off Rizzo for only so long.
Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
The countdown is on in D.C., though seat-warmer Roger Bernadina may delay the eagerly awaited callup if he can carry over his strong spring into the regular schedule. Harper had only 147 ABs at double-A in 2011.
Jarrod Parker, SP, Athletics
Perhaps the most MLB-ready of the young A’s arms, he was optioned early in camp. But, with little proven depth in the rotation and no fifth starter yet named, his callup may not be far off.
Trevor Bauer, SP, Diamondbacks
The third overall pick in 2011 did nothing to lessen his lustre this spring (9-1 K-BB) and may need only a few starts at double-A.