2010 Oakland Athletics Preview

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athletics.gif2009 Record: 75-87, 4th AL West

2009 Prediction: 78-84, 2nd AL West

2010 Prediction: 3rd AL West

 

Impact Player: Kurt Suzuki

Impact Pitcher: Brett Anderson

Top Prospect Player:
1B/OF Chris Carter

Top Prospect Pitcher:
LHP Pedro Figueroa

 

Manager: Bob Geren, 4th Season
(226-259, .466)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff,
OF Coco Crisp, INF Adam Rosales, UTIL Jake Fox, RHP Ben Sheets,
LHP Lenny DiNardo

Significant Losses: INF Adam Kennedy, INF Bobby
Crosby
, UTIL Scott Hairston, INF
Nomar Garciaparra, RHP Edgar Gonzalez, LHP Dana Eveland, RHP Brett Tomko

 

The Oakland A’s suffered through their third straight losing
season in 2009 which hasn’t happened since the franchise had six straight
losing years from 1993-1998.  As always,
GM Billy Bean is trying to build back to respectability with very young, very
talented pitchers and unproven, often out-casted hitters.  Experiments with veterans Jason Giambi, Matt Holliday, Orlando
Cabrera
, and Nomar Garciaparra
failed in 2009, and Bean has assembled a team for 2010 which may have trouble
hitting while it waits for its talented young position players on the farm to
mature.  All of the A’s young arms showed
major promise in 2009 and look poised to have a collective breakout in 2010,
but will the lineup have the necessary teeth to bring this team back to the
.500-mark and beyond?

 

Pitching

brett-anderson.jpg

Bean and his front office have taken a $10-million gamble on
oft-injured hurler Ben Sheets.  Sheets went to free agency last year and was
nearly signed by the Rangers until it was revealed that he had a shoulder
injury that would keep him out until at least mid-season.  The Rangers were wise to stay away as
mid-season turned into 2010.  According
to the A’s, Sheets is back to full health and were so impressed by the workout
he had that they gave him $10-million for this year.  Reportedly, no other team was willing to pay
more than $6.5-million.  If Sheets isn’t
healthy or isn’t back to full health, the A’s got burned, however if he’s back
to the pitcher he was with Milwaukee in 2007/2008 (25-14, 3.39 ERA) than they
got a bargain for one season; and if they aren’t in contention by mid-season,
Sheets can be used as a trade chip to garner more prospects, something Bean has
become very good at.  Beyond Sheets is a
crop is fantastic young arms led by Brett
Anderson
.  Just last year, Anderson
was the top prospect in this organization; this year, he’s their “Impact
Pitcher.”  In 2008, the lefty posted 11
wins and a 4.06 ERA at only 21 years old. 
His stuff is nearly unrivalled and he is the fiercest competitors on the
staff.  Dallas Braden is at about that point in his career where a breakout
is imminent.  He’ll turn 27 during the
season and is coming off a year where his record was only 8-9, but he had a
3.89 ERA.  Trevor Cahill will also have a spot in the rotation after a 10 win
rookie year, many scouts think he may have a higher long-term ceiling than
Anderson.  The fifth spot could go to Justin Duchscherer who was unreal in
2008, but missed all of last season with an injury.  If the A’s want to ease him back, they could
put him in the bullpen where he was once an AL All-Star.  Vin
Mazzaro
struggled at times in his rookie season, but also had a few
spectacular starts.  The A’s believe that
the trio of Anderson, Cahill, and Mazzaro is as good as or better than
Mulder/Hudson/Zito.  If that’s the case,
the A’s are going to field a great rotation for years to come.

 

Speaking of great young pitching talent, the A’s also have
the reigning AL Rookie of the Year in closer Andrew Bailey.  Despite only
being given the job in May of last year, Bailey still posted a 6-3 record with
26 saves in 30 chances and a ridiculous 1.84 ERA and was also named to the
All-Star team.  A full year at closer
could yield terrific results for the young fireballer.  The main three pitchers who will bridge the
gap to Bailey are also very reliable: Brad
Ziegler
, Michael Wuertz, and
lefty Craig Breslow.  Ziegler didn’t dominate the way he did in his
rookie campaign, but he still had a solid 3.07 ERA and 7 saves, while Wuertz
came over from Chicago last offseason and posted a sparkling 2.63 ERA.  Breslow split the year between Minnesota and
Oakland and had 7 bullpen wins and a 2.60 ERA as an A.  Joey
Devine
came out of the ’08 season as the expected closer after posting a
surreal 0.59 ERA but was hurt all of last year. 
If he’s healthy and back to form, the A’s may have the best
top-to-bottom bullpen in the AL.  The
long-man will likely be Mazzaro, Duchscherer, Gio Gonzalez, Josh Outman,
or Lenny DiNardo.  The latter three are all lefties which may
help their cause.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Ben Sheets*

31/2

R/R

Dallas Braden

26/7

L/L

Brett Anderson

22

L/L

Trevor Cahill

22

R/R

Justin Duchscherer

32

R/R

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Andrew Bailey (CL)

25/6

R/R

Brad Ziegler

30

R/R

Michael Wuertz

31

R/R

Craig Breslow

29/0

L/L

Joey Devine

26

R/R

Vin Mazzaro

23/4

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Gio Gonzalez

24

R/L

Josh Outman

25

L/L

Brad Kilby

27

L/L

Jon Meloan

25/6

R/R

Henry
A. Rodriguez

23

R/R

Lenny DiNardo*

30

L/L

*=newly acquired

 

Lineup

kurt-suzuki.jpg

What the A’s possess in pitching, they lack in position
players.  That is to say, the talent as
of right now is significantly less.  That
could change in the coming years with a stockpile of young hitters in the
system such as first baseman Chris
Carter
, outfielder Michael Taylor
(acquired from the Phillies via the Jays for Brett Wallace in the Halladay trade), and shortstop Grant Green, but until those players
are ready, runs will be hard to come by. 
The Outfield is led by late bloomer Rajai
Davis
who broke out at 28 in ’09 with a .305 average, 48 RBI and 41 stolen
bases.  One has to wonder if he’ll
sustain that production going forward, but as of now, he’s the everyday
leftfielder.  Ryan Sweeney will be the rightfielder after a solid ’09 where he hit
.293.  He only hit 6 homeruns, but most
scouts believe he’s a 20/20 guy in waiting. 
Coco Crisp was acquired via
free agency after an injury-plagued 2009 with the Royals.  Crisp will play great defense and steal some
bases as well as provide a solid leadoff option, but was most likely acquired
for his trade value.  If Crisp struggles
or Davis comes back down to earth, the A’s could use Travis Buck who needs to have a big year to prove he’s not a 4-A
player, and reserve outfielder Jack Cust
will be the DH.  Cust strikes out far too
often to justify keeping him for 25/70 production. Taylor could also see time
at some point this year.

 

The A’s swapped Scott
Hairston
back to San Diego (where they acquired him last season) in a deal
that landed new third baseman Kevin
Kouzmanoff
.  Kouzmanoff has nice
power and a terrific glove, but needs to hit higher than .255.  The A’s believe he can do just that.  Once highly-touted Daric Barton has been a bust so far, but the A’s will give him
another chance to start at first.  If he
falters Eric Chavez (more on him in
a minute) could assume the role until Carter is ready to take the next step,
which could be soon.  Steady Mark Ellis returns at second and
continues to be extremely underrated, while the shortstop job will be given to Cliff Pennington who hit .279 in
limited playing time last year, but needs to be better defensively.  The catcher will be Kurt Suzuki who has started more games at catcher than anyone else
over the past two years.  He’s durable,
good defensively, highly respected by his coaching staff and his pitchers, and
is one of the best game-callers out there; oh yeah, he also hit .274 with 15 HR
and 88 RBI in 2009.

 

Chavez will be given a new role this year as reserve
corner-infielder and occasional DH.  The
A’s hope that keeps him healthy for the first time in years, but it appears his
days as the longest tenured Athletic are numbered.  He may end up starting at first (which should
save his fragile shoulder) if Barton struggles and Carter isn’t ready.  Beyond him is Buck, and infielder Adam Rosales who was acquired in an
early-February trade with the Reds.  The
backup catcher will be Landon Powell
who won’t play often but can provide some pop with the bat when he does.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

CF

Coco Crisp*

S/R

30

RF

Ryan Sweeney

L/L

25

C

Kurt Suzuki

R/R

26

DH

Jack Cust

L/R

31

3B

Kevin Kouzmanoff*

R/R

28/9

1B

Daric Barton

L/R

24/5

LF

Rajai Davis

R/R

29

2B

Mark Ellis

R/R

32/3

SS

Cliff Pennington

S/R

25/6

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

INF

Eric Chavez (3B, DH, 1B)

L/R

32

OF

Travis Buck (LF, RF)

L/R

26

INF

Adam Rosales* (SS, 2B)

R/R

26/7

C

Landon Powell (1B)

S/R

28

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

UTIL

Eric Patterson (2B, CF, LF)

L/R

27

UTIL

Jake Fox* (3B, 1B, LF, RF)

R/R

27/8

3B

Dallas McPherson*

L/R

29/0

 

The A’s won’t hit, but if their pitchers are as good as most
people say they certainly have a shot at cracking the .500-mark for the first
time since 2006.  In a pitcher’s park
like the Coliseum, the A’s might not need to score more than a few runs a game
to win.  The AL West is maybe the most
parodied division in baseball and with the Angels having taken a step back, the
A’s may shock some people and stay in contention all season.

Final Prediction:
82-80, 3rd AL West

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