Tagged: Oakland Athletics

On the DeJesus-Mazzaro trade

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The other day, the Oakland
Athletics
and Kansas City Royals
pulled off the first major trade of the 2010-11 offseason.  Headed to Oakland is long-time Royals
outfielder David DeJesus, who was in
the midst of a career year before a thumb injury stopped his season in its
tracks.  The Royals snag two pitchers in
highly-touted Vin Mazzaro and minor-league
lefty Justin Marks.

David-DeJesus-2.jpg

On the surface, this looks like a trade of necessity for
both clubs.  The Royals exercised their
2011 option on DeJesus on October 2nd and will make
$6.0-million.  Given that this is a
reasonable amount for a potentially above-average outfielder, the Royals likely
thought it was better to exercise the option and try to get something in a
trade, than let Dejesus go via free agency.

 

The A’s seem quite focused on playing to their spacious park
and instead of spending money on big, cumbersome slugging outfielders; they are
attempting to create an athletic core of players with moderate power and
above-average range.  Ryan Sweeney, Dejesus, Coco Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Conor
Jackson
are all under contract or in control for next year and are all very
similar players; athletic fielders, solid contact hitters, average to below
average power.  Overall, DeJesus is
definitely a player who’ll fit in nicely in Oakland for 2011.  He’ll likely jet via free agency after next
season.

 alg_mazzaro2.jpg

That’s what makes this deal perplexing.  Clearly the A’s are a team that sees
themselves contending next year, and certainly they could in the unpredictable
AL West, but DeJesus is a 31-year-old injury-plagued player with one year left
on a deal.  Mazzaro, on the other hand is
a potential stud.

 

His numbers in the majors aren’t terrifically impressive,
but they aren’t bad either; he got significantly better last year over his ’09
rookie performance.  His minor-league
number were solid and has all the makeup of a pitcher who could eventually be a
top-of-the-rotation talent.

 

Marks, like Mazzaro, is a former third-round pick, however
he has yet to show anything at the minor-league level that would lead me to
believe he’s a major-league player.

 

Overall, I think the A’s didn’t need DeJesus enough to give
up a pitcher like Mazzaro.  On the other
hand, they are probably the best equipped organization to give up some pitching
talent given the wealth of it they possess.

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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

’09 Preview — Oakland Athletics

Oakland.gif2008 Record: 75-86, 3rd AL West
2009 Prediction: 2nd AL West

Impact Player: Matt Holliday
Impact Pitcher: Brad Ziegler
Top Prospect: Brett Anderson, LHP

Significant Acquisitions: OF Matt Holliday, 1B/DH Jason Giambi, P Russ Springer, P Michael Wuertz, P Edgar Gonzalez
Significant Losses: OF Carlos Gonzalez, DH Frank Thomas, OF Emil Brown, DH Mike Sweeney, INF Donnie Murphy, OF Matt Murton, P Greg Smith, P Huston Street, P Alan Embree, P Andrew Brown, P Keith Foulke, P Dan Meyer, P Kirk Saarloos

The Oakland Athletics are a team like the Minnesota Twins, without the success…at least not these days.  The Athletics do a lot with very little and the names and faces of players are almost always unknown at the beginning of each season.  For the first time in years, however, the A’s made significant acquisitions that might help the team be better now.  Matt Holliday was acquired from the Rockies in arguably the biggest blockbuster of the off-season and old Athletics-alum Jason Giambi has been brought back to try and rekindle the success of the late-90’s and early-00’s.  The question is, will a once again young and unproven rotation be enough to challenge the Angels in the weak AL West?

Pitching
The A’s have traded away a proverbial All-Star team of starters over the past few years.  Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Dan Haren, Rich Harden, Joe Blanton; the list goes on and on.  This year was no different as they shipped off a pitcher in Greg Smith, who many believe will one day be an All-Star, to the Rockies in the Holliday deal.  The number-one starter in this year’s rotation will be former All-Star reliever Justin Duchscherer who posted an ERA that would have led the league had he had enough innings to qualify (2.54).  Despite this, he had only a 10-8 record.  After Duchscherer, it’s a crapshoot.  Young left-hander Dana Eveland, who was acquired in the Dan Haren trade a couple years ago, appears to have one of the spots locked down; as does 23-year-old righty Sean Gallagher.  Three pitchers will likely battle for the remaining two spots: Lefties Dallas Braden (25) and Gio Gonzalez (23), as well as righty prospect James Simmons (22).  26-year-old right-hander Edgar Gonzalez signed a minor-league deal and could also be in the mix, but it looks as though he’ll have a better shot at the bullpen.  Another minor-league contract was handed out to former San Francisco Giant Jerome Williams who had a good 2003 before falling off the map due to personal problems.

The A’s refuse to name an outright closer, at least at this time.  Instead they plan to use Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler in a platoon fashion unless one proves he deserves the job over the other.  Both were lights-out last season; Devine was 6-1 with a stupidly-low 0.59 ERA (and no, that’s not a typo), and Ziegler was 3-0 with an almost-as-ridiculous 1.06 ERA.  The A’s signed veterans Russ Springer (40) and Michael Wuertz (30) to deals in the off-season and they should bridge the gap to their two closers nicely.  Santiago Casilla should round out the right-side of the ‘pen and young lefties Jerry Blevins and Josh Outman should take care of the A’s needs in the southpaw department.  Overall, this bullpen has major promise and they’ll need to be at their best every night with the inexperience and all-but-certain growing pains their rotation will experience.  The lack of a true closer may hurt them if Devine and Ziegler don’t continue their path to success.

Rotation (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • Justin Duchscherer (R/31)
  • Dana Eveland (L/25)
  • Sean Gallagher (R/23)
  • Dallas Braden (L/25)
  • Gio Gonzalez (L/23)

Bullpen

  • Joey Devine (R/25) — CO-CLOSER
  • Brad Ziegler (R/29) — CO-CLOSER
  • Russ Springer (R/40)
  • Michael Wuertz (R/30)
  • Santiago Casilla (R/28)
  • Jerry Blevins (L/25)
  • Josh Outman (L/24)

Lineup
The A’s might hit more in ’09 than they did in ’08 with the addition of some proven talent in Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi and the continued development of some of their young hitters.  In the outfield, Holliday will play Left, young Ryan Sweeney (acquired in the deal that sent Nick Swisher to the White Sox in the 07-08 off-season) will likely play Center, and young Travis Buck should start the year as the everyday Right-fielder.  If either Sweeney or Buck don’t look ready yet, Eric Patterson or Rajai Davis might step in.  In the infield, Eric Chavez is back from an injury-plagued ’08 at Third.  Chavez hasn’t been healthy since 2005 and management may be nearing the end of its patience, especially considering the A’s have a highly-touted prospect in Chris Carter who may not be that far off the majors and another young talent in Cliff Pennington who can also play the position.  The middle infield is filled with question marks.  Bobby Crosby should start again at Short but seems to have forever lost the power that saw him win the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2004.  People seem to forget, however, that he was never a good contact hitter, hitting only .239 that year, which is exactly his career average.  Mark Ellis should start at Second but struggled mightily last year hitting just .233 with 7 less home runs and 35 less RBI than in ’07.  Daric Barton was awful at First in ’08 and will likely spend this year learning from Giambi who should get most of the playing time there.  Giambi could also DH at times, giving everday DH Jack Cust a chance to play the outfield.  The A’s liked Cust’s 33 HR in ’08 but didn’t care for his .231 average, his 77 RBI or his 197 strike outs.  Catching duties will belong to Kurt Suzuki who was solid last season and might benefit from not being asked to lead-off this year.

On the bench the A’s, as with most areas, will go young with backup catcher Rob Bowen (28), Barton (23), Patterson (26), Pennington (25), and corner-infielder/second baseman Jack Hannahan (29).  That youth off the bench might hurt them when players like Chavez and Giambi go down with injuries.

Lineup (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)
  CF  Ryan Sweeney (L/24)
  C    Kurt Suzuki (R/25)
  1B  Jason Giambi (L/38)
  LF   Matt Holliday (R/29)
  DH  Jack Cust (L/30)
  3B   Eric Chavez (L/31)
  2B   Mark Ellis (R/32)
  RF  Travis Buck (L/25)
  SS  Bobby Crosby (R/29)

Bench
  C    Rob Bowen (S/28)
  1B  Daric Barton (L/23)
OF/2B Eric Patterson (L/26)
 INF  Cliff Pennington (S/25)
 INF  Jack Hannahan (L/29)

Outlook
The A’s appear to be better offensively than last year but their pitching took another hit with the loss of Greg Smith and All-Star closer Huston Street.  The A’s will need more unexpected performances from another crop of no-name pitchers to even approach the .500-mark.  Although I believe in the A’s development system (especially when it comes to pitchers), I’m just not sure this year will work out very well for them.  Final Prediction: 78-84, 2nd AL West