Thoughts on How to Improve the A's

I understand that it is very early in the season to be making posts like this, but today's near perfecto/no-no/shutout left a bitter taste in my mouth. And also, it may be not be that bad a time to do it as a number of unfortunate events have occured recently. Chavez is injured and as we all know, this could very well end up being much worse than it appears (it appears bad, too). Nomar also left the game yesterday, though it appears to be much less serious than Chavy's, I'll get to why it is still important here in a moment.

Warning: Light to Mild Rosterbation follows...

Actually, I'll go ahead and get to it now. After leaving, Nomar said it was just precautionary. "I just figured it's cold, my calf's tight, time to stop." Let's assume--somewhat optimistically--that Nomar is alright, and he'll be back after a day or two. Garciaparra is incapable of taking over third for an entire season. His body just isn't what it used to be.


Replacements include Crosby, Hannahan, and Baisley, apparently in that order. If Chavez isn't healthy, I would think Hannahan will probably be called up, maybe in time for the Toronto series. Hannahan is good defensively, bad offensively, and although he may benefit a tiny bit from better protection, he's still a significant weak spot in the lineup.

So at third, when the best option you have is Bobby Crosby or Jack Hannahan, one might have to look for options externally. Two options jump out to me. Adrian Beltre and Ian Stewart.

Even though they are off to a quick start and a healthy Bedard and King Felix make for one helluva 1-2 punch, the Mariners probaby aren't going to do very well this year. Beltre is set to make $12M this year, the final year in his contract. He's a fantastic player that gets no attention because he plays in Seattle. Since they probably won't get as much from any compensation picks, they might be wise to deal him--though he might be a little more expensive for partner in the same division. Reasons this won't happen also include the fact that he's owed $12M and he could cost quite a bit in prospects. However, on a side note, the Mariners don't have a strong minor league system--and they don't have a slam dunk first base prospect, like almost every team does. Because of this, the A's could deal from a position of strength, as Barton (selling low), Doolittle, Carter and even Donaldson or Spencer could be included in the deal.

Ian Stewart is another interesting option because the Rockies don't seem to want to give him a starting job. He's seen some pinch-hitting and played some outfield so far. He seems to be adequate if not stellar at third. He's playing behind Garret Atkins and Jeff Baker, though. Seeing as he's only 24 and has been a top 100 prospect for a few years running, it's difficult to see the Rockies giving up on him this early, but if the offer is right, it could definitely happen. Hurdle has publicly stated that he prefers Barmes at 2B right now, too, saying "It's very tough to pull (Barmes) after he's gone 2-for-3 and started three sterling double plays."

Dan Uggla's name has also floated around in teams looking for a third baseman, but thinking about that defense literally leaves a bad taste in one's mouth.


Cabrera is about as good as one can possibly imagine getting. No real room for improvement here, unless you want to go on a crazy prospect spending spree. Hanley and the Marlins have recently experienced some turbulence. But with a team-friendly contract like that, it's hard to fathom the Marlins trading that away. If I were Marlins GM, I would fire the manager before I traded Hanley, but crazier things have happened. Well, no, not really.


I'm not even going to suggest trading for Uggla or something. The Unicorn is the man, and to even suggest replacing him should be considered a CGV.


I really find it difficult to imagine improving the team at this position. Adrian Gonzalez could definitely be pried away, and his numbers away from Petco, even at the Coli, could be ridiculous. His contract would be pocket change to an MLB team--even Oakland. Which is why, unfortunately, he cost in prospects would be similar to Hanley.

Any changes at first base would likely come internally. Sean Doolittle saw 50 mediocre games at Midland last year, but was likely battling fatigue in his first full season strictly as a position player, and was moved up to Sacramento anyways, where he's his .316/.381/.474 through five games. If Giambi were to go down, I don't know whether we'd see Barton or Doolittle right now. Maybe neither, and we'd see Powell/Suzuki/Hannahan fill in.

Unfortunately, I don't know where Barton fits in the Oakland's future. I was extremely high on him as of last year, but the competition that has emerged in Carter and Doolittle likely make him expendable. If Nomar and Giambi are healthy this year, don't expect any changes here.


Suzuki is not flashy, but he gets the job done and then some. He appears to be handling the young pitching staff very well, which is a necessity. Geren loves him, and he has actually been spraying line drives all over the field, not a homerun guy, but a good offensive catcher anyway. Powell also provides adequately as a backup, and is capable with the bat. Nothing realistic here, either.


Holliday is obviously here for the long haul. Or at least until we're out of the race in June and he gets traded. If Giambi is at 1B, Cust is at DH and this provides for an interesting conundrum. I don't know if anybody expected Buck to see so little playing time. I'm sure I'm not alone, but not in concurrence with everyone, in thinking that the lineup would frequently feature Cust at DH, Buck in RF, but that hasn't been the case.

I don't see Beane going out and replacing Buck any time soon, because Giambi needs to rest and DH some, and Cust will play RF often enough that anybody else would see time sparingly to begin with. I wouldn't be surprised to see Buck dangled later this season, perhaps to a team like the Cubs when Bradley's body falls apart. I think Doolittle would likely replace him. This is also unfortunate, because I really liked Buck. I think I would like him more if he smiled on the field sometimes.

Centerfield is also interesting. Sweeney had an awesome spring, as did Rajai. Both, however, have been slow in putting up numbers so far. Rajai's probably most valuable as a late inning defensive replacement/base stealer, but with Sweeney being weak as hell against lefties, he's kind of forced into a platoon spot. Unfortunate, I know.

Having a dangerous guy like Rajai is a valuable asset late in ballgames, but the A's are definitely not getting enough production there--and probably not going to get stellar production, because Sweeney is still developing and Rajai's just not that good. Denorfia could very well be the answer to that problem. He's a much better hitter than Rajai and proves as a much more capable platoon partner with Sweeney. Unfortunately, you lose some defense and that late inning burner you have with Rajai. Wimberly could be that guy in the future, but I don't think he's ready. Actually, he's definitely not ready, but I needed an excuse to bring up SOCKS! Also, I found this gem. Ridiculous. 

Edmonds is still out there, but at this point his defense is just bad. This came across MLBTradeRumors today, and while I know it's extremely unlikely, I thought it was interesting. I thought Rowand could still play a good CF and hit some, so I looked it up. Rowand's UZR/150 in CF last year was -6.1, so he's been slipping in recent years. He's projected around 15 HR with OBP of .340, which is probably more power than Sweeney will have, with a simiar OBP. Unfortunately, the Giants aren't likely to eat that much contract, so I don't see any way this turns out to be a helpful deal.

Two other interesting names out there: Vernon Wells and Rick Ankiel. Wells' contract is massive and his defense is well below what it once was, as well as his offense. Another aging CF, just didn't fall off the map like Andruw, but it appears as though he's slipping quite a bit.

Ankiel, though, is the owner of one of the prettiest swings in baseball. With the emergence of Colby Rasmus, the Cardinals would be wise to move Ankiel to RF, but LaRussa has been reluctant to do that. A free agent after this year, Ankiel likely won't be a Cardinal after this year. He's projected to hit 25 HR, with a weak OBP around .320, with less than awesome defense. His arm is awesome though. It would be interesting. A lineup with Holliday, Cust, Ankiel and Giambi could do a lot of damage. Unfortunately, the Cardinals' most pressing need is pitching--MLB ready pitching, of which the A's have very litte worth giving up. If the Cardinals wanted to give up Ankiel along with Brett Wallace, I would consider giving up Anderson or Cahill and I'm sure a deal could be worked out. However, please understand friendly readers that I know this deal makes no sense, as it gets a player that isn't ready to play this year, gives up a starter for a player that's gone next year. I'm just talking.

Milledge, too, but I don't think it's ever going to happen--both the A's trading for him and him being a good player.


Obviously, this is Oakland's most pressing need. Both starters and relievers are needed. An interesting name that's still on the free agent market is Paul Byrd, who I think would look awesome in green high socks. His ERA, though, has been in the upper 4s for the last three years. He wouldn't be terrible as a fifth starter, but the A's already have a couple of them, and how much better would he be than Edgar or Gio Gonzalez right now?

Pedro is still out there, but he's also about a fifth starter at this point, along with a big injury risk. Publicity would be a plus though. Again, the uniform is appealing. Think about how awesome Pedro would look with white shoes.

Not much else is out there. Teams that were operating from a lot of starting pitching depth like the Red Sox now find themselves with a vauable commodity--or without it, as Daisuke just found himself on the DL for the first time (he'd fit right in with the A's!), so good starting pitching is very hard to come by.

Halladay and Peavy are both trade candidates. Peavy doesn't want to play in the AL and he's about all the Padres have for fans to like. Halladay is interesting, though. The Jays have some good starting pitching, and he's on a fairly team friendly contract. He would cost a lot of prospects, but I think he'd be about the only pitcher worth it. His influence on Cahill could be awesome, but again, he's expensive and I can't see it happening.


Overall, I can't see any of these happening. I think the most beneficial one, and probably most realistic one--if Chavy and Nomar are both ailing--would be to try to pry Adrian Beltre away from the M's. His right handed bat could help split up all the lefties that Holliday can't split up, while providing (legitimate) gold glove calibur defense.

If Geren continued to use Sweeney and Cabrera at the top, going Holliday, Giambi, Beltre, Cust would be a very awesome lineup--kind of like the awesomeness we all hoped a lineup with Chavez in it every day would have.

With that I will conclude. I hope I didn't waste your time. Also, I will leave you with a poll because everybody likes a good poll.

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