FanPost

Finances and Injuries, Injuries and Finances...

   If we look at the A's current roster, we find maybe 4 or 5 players that have not been on the DL for extended periods over the last few years. Among the pitchers, only Haren and Blanton have held up, and among position players, only Swisher and Ellis can honestly say they show up for work nearly every day ready to go. The success of the RiverCats last year is truly amazing, because most of the players that should have been in AAA spent huge chunks of the year in Oakland filling in for our no-shows.  
    Few would argue that the team needs to get substantially better to become a factor again. Teams can get better several different ways: they can go out any buy top-tier talent from the FA pool, they can use their tradeable assets to fill in major weaknesses, they can develop quality players in their farm systems, or the players already on the ML roster can progress and improve. Although I am a die-hard A's fan, looking at our current roster options, it's hard for me to see this team playing in October anytime soon.

    The easiest path to improvement is also the most expensive, so Oakland will never choose it. Anyone who thinks Billy is looking to the FA market to buy an A-rod or someone like that had better put down the hash pipe and get back to reality. It's just not going to happen.
    We have very few tradeable assets that other clubs would offer us something tempting for, because 90% of our players spend more time on the DL than on the field. No GM will give us a "yes" for a "maybe". If the A's are to jettison players, it will not be at fair value but rather at pennies on the dollar. Street is perhaps the only player on the roster that could be traded at or near the top of his value, and personally I would welcome that because 1)he gives up a ton of dingers, and 2)it is just a matter of time before he breaks down--his mechanics put too much strain on his arm. Ship him while he's still healthy and (relatively) effective! I envision great things for Blevins in Green and Gold...
   The third way to improve is through the farm system. We had an opportunity last season to see pretty much everybody from Sacto that management is high on. Among the pitchers, a grand total of ZERO are ready for the show. ZERO! Braden, Windsor, Komine, Meyer, etc. etc. are not realistic options at this point. If a combination of those guys starts 25 or more games for Oakland next year, we'll be 18 games out again. I think they'll be great in the future, but none of them is ready now. Maybe Meyer will finally show up...Among the hitters, of course you gotta like Barton, but honestly who else is there?
   "Wait and Hope" is how I would characterize the fourth approach, and it seems to be the one the A's are taking. Everyone hopes Chavez can put it together, because when the best player on the team hits .240 and misses 80 games two years in a row, he's not the best player anymore. Years ago we thought the sky was the limit for this guy, but now I think .275/28/85 would delight the faithful. Crosby is what he is. Solid in the field (on the rare occasions he's on it), no skills at the dish. He is the reincarnation of Walt Weiss--ROY and then flatline...Kotsay's tenure with the A's can basically be characterized by the sound of $24 million being flushed down the toilet. Rich Harden is the most agonizing example of the numerous A's who really need to show up and start doing the job. His talent is so electric, his stuff so dominating, that it brings me to tears to think it may never happen for him at all, much less in an Oakland uniform.
    Big-budget clubs never have to make the choice between trying to win now or trying to win later. They use money to acquire what they need and can always reload, like a kid with a pocket full of quarters at the arcade. Oakland is not in that position. Every time Billy has needed to make an acquisition, it has always come at a price. Who can name the most dominant pitcher in the NL over the last two seasons? It's none other than Aaron Harang, who went to the Reds in exchange for a rent-a-bat named Guillen who promptly defected to the enemy Angels after the season and has since played for about 9 other teams and had 'roids shipped to him in every city. At the time of the trade, Harang could barely make it 5 innings, and our bullpen was horrendous at that time. It made sense then--fill a immediate need by hocking a small piece of the future.
    The Ethier/Bradley trade is another example of this. We never have the money for a sure-fire solution, so we end up taking gambles on a maybe. The Frank Thomas gamble worked, but Bradley clearly shows that this approach is hit and miss. These are the kinds of dilemmas big-money clubs rarely find themselves in, and if they do trade away a prospect that ends up being a star, they can always buy him back later...
     Our team has a long way to go to get back into contention. Having the MASH unit make a recovery and actually show up for work on occasion this year would be a welcome sight, but even with everyone healthy, we still have a lot of holes to fill. I am always optimistic about the Green and Gold, but these next few years look to be very challenging...

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