Jhonny Peralta added "left fielder" to his resume over the weekend, going 3-for-12 in his return from a 50-game suspension. He looked ready at the plate. Is this enough to make the playoff roster?
The A's used two left-handers as starters this year. One was opening-day starter Brett Anderson. He struggled after a long absence due to ankle and foot injuries, and is not likely to start in the playoffs. The other is Tommy Milone, who made only two starts in September and has lately worked out of the bullpen. So it is likely that the rotation will be all right-handed, like Detroit's.
The Tigers have a standard lineup against a righty, with Avila catching and Dirks in left field. Peralta could take the shortstop position back from Iglesias, but the pitching staff would revolt. And Leyland has said Iglesias is his starter. Peralta demonstrated that he knows where left field is and will not look foolish, so he could start over Dirks. But that would lose the platoon advantage, sacrifice defense, open Leyland up to second-guessing, and give the preference to a player with a PED label. Regardless, Peralta needs to be on the roster.
Jim Leyland is working through all the potential game situations. What if....
1. A lefty is brought in to face Dirks or Avila at a critical moment?
2. An important potential run is on third base, and Iglesias is due up against a tough pitcher?
3. Cabrera runs out a double in the first inning and is not able to field his position?
Scenario 1 calls for Peralta. Who better to face a lefty than Jhonny, with a career .788 OPS against southpaws? The other right handed options are Pena (.608), Santiago (.619), Tuiasosopo (.638), Castellanos (.545), and Perez (.487). Case closed, Peralta makes the roster. If he hits for Dirks, then he can take left field (gulp) or Don Kelly can go in for defense.
Scenario 2 calls for Peralta. Peralta can pinch hit for Iglesias and assume the shortstop position without causing a second lineup substitution.
Scenario 3 calls for Don Kelly or Ramon Santiago during the regular season. But in the playoffs, it calls for Jhonny Peralta who has started over 200 games at third base. Kelly and Santiago can be saved for late innings with a lead to protect.
The Giants were praised last year for leaving Melky Cabrera off their roster as they advanced in the playoffs, when his 50-game suspension expired. The Giants won the World Series, and Melky's season ended this year when a benign tumor was found on his spine. Thus there is an argument to "do the right thing." Bartolo Colon is the 40-year-old ace of the A's who was suspended last year for testing positive for PEDs. He was implicated in the Biogenesis scandal but not suspended. Are the A's planning to leave Colon off their roster? Nelson Cruz was suspended with Jhonny Peralta and returned for the Rangers' game 163. Is there weeping and gnashing of teeth? Jason Giambi hit a huge walk-off home run last week for the Indians, without which they would not have clinched a wild card spot. Giambi has confessed to using PEDs. He has never been suspended, though he lost time to treatment for a benign tumor. Apparently "do the right thing" in baseball is now to confess, serve your suspension, and be reinstated.