I'm sitting here watching the MLB Network and the 1974 World Series and wondering when our A's will return to the promised land. So strange to see the Coliseum back then and realize that it wasn't always such an eyesore. Also, did you know that Bill Russell, the Dodgers' shortstop, was doing the jump in the hole throw thing long before Jeter was? This would be like suddenly finding out that Dr. J was doing the tongue out thing that Jordan was long before he was. Nevertheless, onto the topic at hand.
The Yankees and Phillies got to the World Series this year in many ways in spite of their pitching not because of it. The Phillies had the ninth best ERA for starting pitching while the Yankees were more middle of the pack. Course both of the offenses were ridiculous, making the pitching almost moot when it comes to winning.
I was caught off guard by Nico who called me the other day while I was shopping at Babies R Us for our upcoming child and told me that I will also be expecting a Coco Crisp in 2010 along with a new son. I was seriously baffled by this turn of events. But I think if you look at Billy Beane's track record, you'll understand where he's going. Maybe...
If the A's decide to keep Rajai Davis, the Oakland team looks to have a plus defender in almost all positions around the field except third base. And it remains to be seen what Beane will do with third. It's possible you could see him make a move on Adrian Beltre, especially if he's ranking defense very highly, which is really the only way the Coco Crisp signing makes any sense.
Beane said to me in several interviews that power was one of the most expensive commodities to acquire out on the open market. Ironic that power is the one thing that Jack Cust does provide, albeit with a lot of warts that come along with that. But I think that it tells me that the A's are looking to groom their own power from within (or in a deal). The Chris Carter and Michael Taylor's of the world. The A's are hoping that guys like Carter and Taylor who are hopefully the answer because right now, there is not much power.
I do think that Beane is clearly looking at things like defense and even stolen bases. I mean hell, if you don't have any power on your team, at least have some speed so you can turn all those slap singles into doubles and go first to third, etc. Crisp is right about at that 75 percent average in terms of success in stealing bases and if you average out his averages over 162 games, he steals about 27 bases and gets caught nine times. He and Rajai at the top of the lineup will at least, in small part, make up for the lack of power. Course if Rajai is dealt, there goes that argument.
Now interestingly enough, the A's had a pretty fantastic second half of the season last year and they ranked 25th in home runs after the All Star break. So the team clearly was able to score runs despite the power outage. Course the A's also had the most doubles, so they did have power, only not long ball power.
So while it remains to be seen what the A's will do the rest of this hot stove season as I really wasn't anticipating the A's trading Brett Wallace (however it clearly did tell me that the A's didn't think he would stick at third) or definitely didn't think they would sign Coco Crisp or release Jack Cust, I think the team definitely has an exciting edge to it now. It's got fantastic defensive players in nearly ever position. And remember this team had the third best ERA in all of baseball last year. An improved defense behind these young pitchers and another year of experience for them can only mean good things for pitching and defense. What is it they always saying about pitching and defense? Oh yeah, that's right, it wins championships.
Speaking of pitching...Andrew Bailey is now on MLB Network as the 74 Series ended long ago, which probably means it's time for me to end this. Remember one thing. The A's have always been one of the more active teams later in the free agent season the last few years. I was kind of hoping we could truly go with the youth this year, but with the Crisp signing, it looks like the team is still trying to plug perceived holes. Buckle up for the rest of the offseason. It should be a fun ride if you can understand what is happening. I'm not 100 percent sure I do.