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A’s should bail on Kouzmanoff, start LaRoche

Apr 6, 2011, 3:30 PM EDT

Kevin Kouzmanoff Getty Getty Images

Now even his glove is letting him down: Kevin Kouzmanoff committed his fourth error in four games Tuesday, eclipsing his total from 2009 when he set a record for fielding percentage by a third baseman with three errors in 311 chances.

But while that’s probably a fluke, Kouzmanoff’s atrocious hitting likely isn’t.  He’s opened this season at .267/.250/.333 with one RBI in four games. In 147 games since joining the A’s, he’s hit .247/.282/.394 with a dreadful 99/24 K/BB ratio in 566 at-bats. He entered last year as Oakland’s cleanup hitter, only to get dropped steadily as the year went on. This season, he’s batting eighth.

The next move is to simply pull him from the lineup. After an excellent spring in which he hit .333/.388/.583 with four homers and 13 RBI in 60 at-bats, Andy LaRoche made his first start of the season last night. Playing shortstop, he went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. The A’s might as well give him a shot.

Of course, it’s no given than LaRoche would be an upgrade.  The 27-year-old has hit .226/.305/.339 in 1,090 at-bats as a major leaguer.  Even Kouzmanoff, who also excelled with the bat this spring, has that beat. LaRoche, though, probably has the greater offensive upside, and he does offer more range at third base. He wouldn’t be the first hitter to break through after getting the boot from the Pirates.

Kouzmanoff isn’t worthless.  But we do know what he is: he offers just enough power and defense to justify a spot in a starting lineup, but he clearly ranks in the 20-30 range among major league third basemen. LaRoche may not be any better, but it’s worth a shot and the A’s would still have the insurance policy to fall back on.

  1. Detroit Michael - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    Smart teams don’t change a starting player after four games. Get real.

    • scatterbrian - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:59 PM

      Agreed…but considering the A’s went after Beltre, signed LaRoche and even had Encarnacion for like five hours, they’ve clearly been thinking about it for more than four games.

  2. proudlycanadian - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    I came home in the evening and discovered that the Jays were behind by 5 to 1. Thank you Kouzmanoff! Thank you very much! The speed of Davis and Escobar on the base paths also had a hand in pressuring Kouz and his team!

    • cur68 - Apr 6, 2011 at 4:04 PM

      Best 5 innings of baseball (5 thru 10) I’d watched all year (yes, I know what I just wrote). The real test is tonight; 5th starter Jesse Litsch and his school girl fastball against Dallas Braden and his bad boy screwball. It’s gonna be Coyote Ugly tonight, I bet. Hope you got some Tums handy.

      • proudlycanadian - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:03 PM

        I will be playing bridge instead of watching tonight’s game. Braden is not as good as his 15 min. of fame indicates. It could be high scoring.

  3. jdl1325 - Apr 6, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    I thought this exact thing last night. I also would like to see Connor Jackson get some more ABs. Now that his Valley Fever is completely subsided and he’s had time to get back into game shape, he could be at least as useful as Barton.

    • scatterbrian - Apr 6, 2011 at 4:20 PM

      For now it looks like Jackson will get starts in LF vs. lefties, with Willingham DHing and Matsui cheerleading.

  4. raffy7 - Apr 6, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Pouliot again! I just read his Jeff Samardzija article from yesterday, crucifying him after two innings of relief work on the season.
    Today comes another article tearing a guy apart for a bad first week of the season.
    While a team does not want to waste too much time on an unproductive player, it is a long season. What is the urgency here for these teams to make these changes, especially when there isn’t really an upgrade suggested?
    Kouzmanoff has proven himself as a defensive third baseman, so a couple of errors to start the season doesn’t have me condemning his glove quite yet.
    While his bat has never really lived up to the defense, urging the A’s to start Andy LaRoche at this point of the season is making a change for change sake. LaRoche is more unproven than Kouzmanoff. LaRoche may still become a solid player, but the A’s are gonna give their starting third baseman more than a week before dumping him.

    Pujols! Hanley Ramirez! Tulowitski! Carl Crawford! All off to bad starts! Dump them! Abandon ship!

    You gotta chill out Matt.

    • proudlycanadian - Apr 6, 2011 at 6:06 PM

      Don’t forget to blame “Francoma” for Boston’s losing streak.

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