‘Horse[manure]‘: A’s players upset after Kila Ka’aihue is demoted days before birth of twins

David Brown
Big League Stew

Great timing, Oakland Athletics.

Players in the A's clubhouse reportedly are upset with team management about a roster move involving Kila Ka'aihue, who was designated for assignment Wednesday. The team replaced him with Brandon Moss, brought up from Triple-A, just four days after giving Ka'aihue the starting job at first base.

Then there's Ka'aihue's wife, Blair, who is set to give birth to twins at any moment. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Susan Slusser notes that many teammates are shaking their heads over the timing and even the necessity of the change. A's manager Bob Melvin said it was the best move for the club, as if he'd say anything different. The players, though anonymous to us, don't agree:

"Everyone is in shock," one player said.

"Total horse" manure, said another.

Melvin said that Moss, who has hit 15 homers at Sacramento, had an out clause in his contract on June 15.

"Based on the fact he was doing what he was doing and a little bit of the lack of production that we've had here, we felt it was the right thing to get him here," Melvin said.

Ka'aihue left the clubhouse without speaking to reporters, but Melvin called him a "class act" for how he handled the news, and said Ka'aihue told him it might be a blessing to be at home, with his wife about to give birth. Of course, if the A's really were doing Ka'aihue a favor, they'd wait for the right moment to put him on paternity leave, which is an option built into the collective bargaining agreement.

While Ka'aihue's production has been below-average (.234/.295/.398 with four homers) over 139 plate appearances, that still gives him the fifth-best adjusted OPS on the team. It's not his fault alone the A's bring up the rear in runs scored in the AL. Ka'aihue hasn't been much worse than Seth Smith, for example. But Smith is a pricey free agent you can't just cut. Ka'aihue is a 28-year-old former prospect with a short track record in the majors who doesn't cost much.

A's assistant GM David Forst (he speaks for Billy Beane) defended the move weakly.

Forst said that with Oakland set to face four straight right-handed pitchers (including Wednesday night), and with Ka'aihue struggling against righties when compared with Moss at Triple-A, it makes sense to do the move now. Maybe, but Moss has a longer track record in the majors, and has done less with it, than Ka'aihue.

It's up to the club, of course, who gets to play and who doesn't. With Ka'aihue's wife on the verge of giving birth, and with Moss' bring-me-up-or-else deadline more than a week away, they could have waited. They should have waited. These aren't merely pieces on a chess board. They are people. And there's very flimsy evidence to support having to make a move right now. The A's are treating their roster like a fantasy baseball player might, and they are short-sighted to do so.

It's horse manure, as the one player said.

The A's have 10 days to trade, release or place Ka'aihue on waivers. Or they could reinstate him to the roster, though that almost never happens. Instead, he gets to sit around in limbo, worrying about his career, while also worrying about a wife who's about to go into labor.

Nice work, if you can get it.

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