How many catchers can the A's fit into one lineup?
I haven't seen any actual facts, but this might be the first time in history that a first-place team has traded an All-Star cleanup hitter in the midst of a mid-summer pennant race.
And what makes Yoenis Cespedes' exit all the more surprising is that the A's didn't have anyone fancy on hand to replace him. Clearing the way for a hot prospect, or an underused fourth outfielder? Sure. But this? No.
So how do the A's fill that void in their lineup? Well, they added Sam Fuld to the fold. Re-added, actually. But Sunday, at least, they also deployed one-two-three catchers in the lineup.
Of course they didn't all catch. All-Star Derek Norris caught, Stephen Vogt played first base -- with semi-regular first baseman Brandon Moss shifting to left field -- and John Jaso DH'ing. All of which makes sense if you look at this season's stats, because those three catchers have combined for an 839 OPS ... or almost exactly Freddie Freeman. Three Freddie Freemans in the lineup? Yes please!
But as management must know, these guys aren't Freddie Freeman, either singly or collectively. They're all veterans with long professional track records, and a reasonably accurate method has them combining for a 750 OPS the rest of the season. More like Pablo Sandoval.
Oakland's three catchers won't play every day. So it's really more like trading two Freddie Freemans for two Pablo Sandovals for two months. Hardly the end of the world. But losing Cespedes hurt a little bit, both because he's a good player and because it'll be that much harder to pick up the slack when the Catchers Three regress as they must.