MAC: A Good or Bad Thing?

After trading away several players, the A's have restocked... blah blah blah. 

We all know that the A's went into rebuilding mode a couple of years ago, and that we're on the verge of seeing the fruits of Beane's labor. Anderson, Cahill and Mazzaro have been getting all the attention so far this ST, but for all intents and purposes, I'm going to throw Gonzalez (of the Gio variety), who has Zito-like potential and Simmons, who will probably be Joe Blanton sooner rather than later.

(If you don't believe me regarding Simmons and Gonzalez, read the next two paragrahps. If you're alright with this, skip the next two. Okay, thanks.)

Let me clarify my comparisons. Gonzalez and Zito both have problems with the BB/9 rates (Zito for nibbling, and Gonzalez probably for both nibbling and just plain control issues). Both have big (read: GOOD) looping curves that they work off and get many fly balls. Both were #2 prospects for Oakland before they made it to the pros, with Gonzalez #26 in 2008 and Zito #41 overall (BA). So, all things aside, Gio does have Zito-like potential, whether it be one that played in Oakland or San Francisco.

As far as Simmons and Blanton, the similarities are pretty obvious. Both are hittable guys that have very good control and don't strike many people out. Compare Simmons 2008 (H/9: 9.9, HR/9: 0.7, BB/9: 2.1, K/9: 7.9) to Blanton's 2004 (H/9: 10.2, HR/9: 0.7; BB/9: 1.7, K/9: 7.3). Both would be very valuable as a number four starter.


Okay, now that we have that cleared up, let's get down to business. This Spring Training has been so exciting because G-SMAC, K-Hill and the Gang, the Little 3 + Gio and James, whatever you want to call them, have tons of potential, and should anchor the A's rotation for years to come. At least until Fautino, Ross, or Ynoa and his beautiful eyes oust one of them.

With Duchscherer's health in question, the A's rotation is in worrisome at best. Gallagher has had his injury problems. Eveland had a good season last year with shaky peripherals. Braden may or may not have a screwball, but he does have a tattoo of a mustache on his index finger.

With a healthy Duke, the fifth spot in the rotation would have been up for grabs, with Gio, Outman, Gonzalez (of the Edgar variety) and Jerome "I could have been good but then I got fat" Williams. But with the first spot and the last spot in question, a whole lot of people have been clamoring over SMAC, calling for rotation spots given to them right out of the box.

That, folks, is a bad idea.

Anderson and Cahill have had 12 combined starts above A+. Mazzaro has had always impressed scouts, but his numbers only came together last year at AA. If this is exciting, it's also an obvious sign of inconsistency. Also, in his five starts at AAA (small sample size alert!) he posted an ERA of 6.15 with a WHIP of 1.72.

So why do people want to throw them into the fire? Because they have potential! And yes, they have all the potential in the world. Oakland has arguably the best and most pitching prospects in all of baseball, and I'm just as excited as everybody else is for when Ynoa cures cancer with his beautiful blue eyes.

But, also like most of you, I want to make the playoffs. I want to make the Angels cry. I want the world to know how lucky they have been the last few years and to remember that Oakland has historically shat in their mouths.

History will tell you that throwing inexperienced rookies (yes, it's redundant, but considering they've had very, very little experience over AA combined and that they're only 21 or 22, it's true) into the fire probably doesn't bode well for them or the team. Oakland is in an interesting position in that they are in a spot to contend and graduate some very good prospects.

Let's look at some guys. Take Edinson Volquez, for example. He tore it up last year in his first full year. But most people don't remember that he appeared in 2005 at age 21 and put up an ERA of 14.22. He appeared again in 2006 and put up a WHIP of 2.06.

Or Dan Haren and his 5.08 ERA at age 22 with the Cardinals.

Kazmir and his 5.67 ERA at age 20. Cueto's ERA of 4.81 at 22. Lester's 4.76 at 22 and 4.57 at 23. Remember Fausto's ERA of 5.42 and all of his blown saves with the Indians at age 22?

These are all guys that fared relatively well in their first taste of the show, but all of these guys there are a whole bunch (Hmm... like Gio or Gallagher, for instance?) that put up real ugly numbers. On the other end, there are only a few Lincecums and Lirianos and Clemens' and Pedros and Zitos and Hudsons (but not Mulders because he put up some not so beautiful numbers in his first year) that dominate.

SMAC may be capable of putting up tolerable numbers, but I think ultimately that most of us are too excited and too anxious to watch them bloom before our (not as beautiful has Ynoa's) eyes. At 21 or 22 years old, I doubt they are mentally ready. And I don't want to risk the A's possible playoff run because everybody's so antsy to see if they are the real deal. It could ruin our chances at competing. It could mess with their headas and give them Rich Hill syndrome.

I don't see any possible way that putting them in the rotation can help us in any significant way. Especially when you consider the fact that the likelihood of hitting on all three of them instantly is even more unlikely, it's a huge risk. Maybe it keeps us neutral. Maybe I'm just an idiot, but I don't think Beane went all out in his quest to compete this year. There are certain safety measures he took, which is why we got low risk-low reward guys like Edgar and Jerome to fill in a 5th spot. He didn't want to lock any pitchers up long term, because the A's have such a glut of talent in the minors that will take over very soon. But in taking these safety measures, he put contention this year at risk. I don't think he built a rotation that's capable of competing, but the A's almost always outpitch their expectations.

Anyway, what do you guys think?

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