Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Oakland Athletics preview

A team more in transition than any other, they were a decade ago what the Twins are now. A supposed small market team that was always competitive, but couldn’t take it to the next level. Age, injuries, and an unwillingness to pay the big contract has changed the names. There is no doubt that they have the athletic talent to play ball, but do they have the talent to win. It will be hard to beat the Rangers, and they shouldn’t necessarily try. They just need to improve first. This team is going to average one to death.


Kurt Suzuki. A good defensive catcher who hits high up in the order at times, but probably shouldn’t. His power is getting better, but he’s not getting on base like he did early. He should help the young staff, and with 4 years, he’s actually one of the veteran’s of the team. Minus the caught stealing, which no one seems to be good at anymore, he’ll do what needs to be done.

Upside:  helps the pitching staff get better, because they are going to be good

Downside:  hits high in the order again

Score:  0

First base:

Daric Barton. Gets on base a lot, and that’s good. Plays good defense, and that’s good. Doesn’t do much in the way of producing runs, and that’s bad. Not much power for a corner infielder, although I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. Doesn’t run much for his lack of production, so something will have to give soon. He’s going to have to add something to his game as a first baseman.

Upside:  hits a few more homeruns

Downside:  so busy looking for a walk he forgets to swing

Score:  -1

Second base:

Mark Ellis. Injures have changed his game. He doesn’t have much power, and doesn’t run much, but he does get on base. A good defender and the ‘team leader’. He should hit second, but might be down in the 6 or 7 hole. The A’s keep bringing him back, and he’s a good guy to have. He’s the oldest guy on the team, and could be trade bait at the deadline, depending on who is hurt.

Upside:  gets traded to a team that goes to the playoffs

Downside:  gets hurt and one can replace him

Score:   0

Third base:

Kevin Kouzmanoff. A solid, but unspectacular, player who’s out there every day. He walks like Barton hits homeruns, but does have decent power and hits lots of doubles. His defense is getting better, and this team is going to be good at that. It will help the staff. He seems to be the odd man out, as witnessed by the teams desire to sign Beltre, so a trade could still be out there somewhere.

Upside:  gets traded with Ellis

Downside:  has to learn to play second base when Ellis is traded

Score:  - 1

Short stop:

Cliff Pennington. A full time job has made him better defensively, but has taken away his power and ability to get on base. Does run well and will help the team with his stolen bases. He’s a typical short stop and does everything a typical short stop will do. He’ll be the one staying when the guys on the other side of him are traded or replaced. He’ll be the mainstay when the team starts competing.

Upside:  has more extra base hits

Downside:  none as long he maintains his current production

Score:  -1

Left field:

David DeJesus. A perfect trade for the team, as DeJesus is the perfect player for this team. Gets on base pretty well, decent speed, medium power, and good defense. He can play all three outfield positions, which will be important when Crisp gets injured. Can hit anywhere in the line up, which will help, because line up construction on this team will be interesting.

Upside:  just has to do this year what he does every year

Downside:  has to lead the team in offensive categories

Score:  0


Coco Crisp. The leadoff hitter, as long as he’s healthy. He gets on base, steal bases and play good defense in center. Won’t hit for power, but should do a lot of other things well. He really needs to play the full year, as they don’t have anyone to move if the line up starts shuffling. This will be his 10th year in the majors, and its time to put it all together.

Upside:  stays healthy and plays all year

Downside:  doesn’t make it out of spring training

Score:  - 1

Right field:

Josh Willingham. A good pickup for this team. He’ll probably lead them in home runs, and get on base a lot. His defense is better in right field (see a theme here), and he can move around, if needed. He’ll probably hit fourth, between DeJesus and Barton. It’s not what other teams have, but it won’t be bad either. He’s headed for the down slope, but should have a couple of years left.

Upside:  remembers what it was like to win and helps the team do that

Downside:  has to do too much for the team

Score:  + 1

Designated hitter:

Hideki Matsui. Still has his power, and still gets on base. Can’t play defense any more and won’t have to. All he has to do is hit and get on base, and he should still be able to do that. Still one of the best hitters in the game, and not playing the field should keep him healthy and let him do what he does best. Where he fits in the line up will be interesting, but he’s going to help this team.

Upside:  doesn’t need a glove all year

Downside:  lost his home run stroke

Score:  0

Backup catcher:

Landon Powell. Exactly what a back up catcher is. Can’t hit for average, doesn’t walk, and doesn’t have any power. Can play some defense, which is good, but so can Suzuki. Does switch hit, so that’s an advantage some of the others don’t have. He strikes out too much, but can also help out at first, if needed. Respectable, and perfectly average. He’ll have a long career with this team.

Upside:  shows some power when he plays

Downside:  has to get into to many games

Score:  - 1

Backup first baseman:

Says Cris Carter on the depth chart, but I’m going with Connor Jackson. A once promising career sapped by illness, he should get the job done as a back up. He’s the right handed compliment to Barton, can help out in the outfield, and DH when needed. He should help the club a lot of ways, if his bat can rebound, but won’t be in for defensive purposes.

Upside: plays the entire season as a utility guy and doesn’t have to start

Downside:  becomes the first baseman or designated hitter on a full time basis

Score:  - 1

Back-up infielder:

Adam Rosales. Perfectly suited for the role, he can play all the positions, and do it fairly well. Won’t hit much, but the hope is he won’t be called on to do it very often. The only drawback is that he’s a right handed hitter, so he doesn’t give the starters a day off vs tough lefties. No power, and he doesn’t steal. He also won’t get on base very often, but will do what he is there for.

Upside:  all the starters stay healthy and hit

Downside:  one of them doesn’t

Score:   - 1

Back-up outfielder:

Ryan Sweeney. Perfectly suited for the role. He can play defense, and play all of the positions. No power at all, but will get on base. A few doubles and a high average will help, but he doesn’t still. He does give the team a lot of options, and has started in the past. If Crisp can’t go, Sweeney looks to start for him. Still young, so he doesn’t have to settle for this role, but he does until he gets the chance again.

Upside:  doesn’t have to start and gets to help out all the positions

Downside:  Crisp is injured and Sweeney can’t put up his numbers

Score:   0

Rotation (front 3):

Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson, and Trevor Cahill. Cahill and Anderson are studs, and are going to be good. They’re only 23 and the future is bright. Cahill won 18 games, and while that is not the best metric for pitchers, it’s still impressive. Braden is good, and as a lefty that’s important. He just needs to shut up and play the game. None of them strike out a lot, but they don’t walk to many either. They don’t give up homeruns either.

Upside:  not too many innings, so they could stretch out this year

Downside:  some kind of injury hampers development

Score:  0

Rotation (back end):

Gio Gonzalez and Rich Harden. Again, the depth chart. Gonzalez was the second best pitcher on the team last year, but he does walk way too many guys. Harden is hurt again already, and who knows if he can go. Keeping him the fifth guy will lighten his work load, and he shouldn’t have to do much more than keep it close. Gonzales has nothing to prove, and just needs to keep doing it.

Upside: Harden is healthy

Downside:  Gonzalez walks too many

Score:  0


Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour, Michael Wurtz, Craig Breslow, and Joey Devine. A little on the old side, but that is probably a good thing with the young staff. They know how to pitch, are good, and will strike out a ton of hitters. The starters don’t have to go much beyond the sixth inning, which will help the innings count. They’ll all veterans and they don’t walk a lot of guys either. The strength of the team.

Upside:  keep the starters from pitching too many innings

Downside:  don’t get enough leads to hold

Score:  + 2


Andrew Bailey. He’s good. And he’s going to get better. The strikeout rates were down a little, but that’s probably injury related. Even at the levels they were at last season, he’s still better than a lot of other guys. A talented bullpen that won’t blow leads will get him a lot of save opportunities. No sophomore slump for him, as he was even better the second time around.

Upside:  no injuries and the strikeouts return

Downside:  gets too many close games because of the bullpen and rotation --  to many innings

Score:  +2

Team speed (which includes base running):

Good. They could steal a lot of bases, if everyone is healthy and gets on base. Losing Davis hurts, but DeJesus and Willingham can run. Lots of doubles and triples, and they should all do well on the bases. They all have decent range in the field, which will be a big help. They will need the steals to help offset a lack of power that the other clubs all have.

Upside:  looks like a track meet

Downside:  becomes too important because no one can go deep

Score:  + 1

Team defense:

Good. The best in the league. This will be important, because it is such a young rotation. The outfielders will help with the deep alleys, and they infielders won’t give up too many free runners. The catchers are good, but will need to be better against base stealers, as every run will count. The A’s are going small ball, and as the defense goes, so will the pitching, will make the wins come.

Upside:  Gold Gloves abound

Downside:  injuries put guys without gloves in the line up

Score:  + 2

Team batting:

For all the good, there is the bad. Not a lot of power, they’ll have more stolen bases than home runs again. They don’t get on base as well as they should, so they have to take advantage of every opportunity. The pitching staff won’t give up a lot, but they aren’t going to score a lot. Doubles, triples, and smart base running are going to be more important than anything else. You have to expect some kind of trade if they can stay close.

Upside:  a trade brings a big bat

Downside:  a trade takes a good starting pitcher

Score:  - 1

Team pitching:

Good, better, and really good. Pitching should be the least of the worries for this team. Starting is good, if young. The bullpen is solid, and the closer is an elite one. Barring injuries, the staff will lead the league in pitching and get them a lot of wins. They ones they don’t win will be close. They just won’t get too many runs to work with, so the expectations will be hard on them, but they can do it.

Upside:  lead the league in shutouts, WHIP, and ERA+

Downside:  finish last in the division

Score:  + 2

Total score:    2

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