The Oakland A's have clearly made a switch in drafting and signing international FA's the last few years. Micheal Ynoa was signed to the biggest FA signing bonus ever given out by the A's. The A's also spent money (for them) on Solano this year from Venezuela. They have also picked up players in the draft who have fallen due to there monetary demands like Hunter and Stassi with the intention of overpaying to get them to sign and not go to college. One market the A's have neglected is picking up players from Japan that could make an impact. It may also make sense for the A's to go all out with a proven strength in drafting and only or mostly go high with pitchers.
Spending money on draft picks and International FA's seems to be Billy's next under-served part of the market to try and take advantage of. It does not matter if you are good/bad or otherwise at picking talent then you should be spending all the money you can getting these types of players. If your good at it you get all kinds of extra talent. If your bad you get less, but still more than the system would have otherwise. Since Billy's been running things, the A's are good/great at picking pitchers and poor/terrible at picking hitters high.
The A's pick up pitching talent and developing it quickly into good or better major league players. . Around half of the A's first pitching picks in the draft since 2000 have made the show or will. 50/50 for pitchers is pretty good. That most of them have been above avg is even better.
2000- Kevin Mcgerry- Bust
2001- Jeremy Bonderman-started in 2003. Second in K's A.L. 2006.
2002- Joe Blanton- started in 2004 , 16 wins in 2006.
2003- Brad Sullivan- Bust
2004- Houston Street- saving 23 games in 2005. Rookie of the year.
2005- Jared Lansford - bust at this point in AA midland with a ceiling of middle relief.
2006- Trevor Cahill- 4.55 after jumping from AA. High ceiling and almost untouchable to the A's.
2007- James Simmons- 4.89 first year AAA. minor AA all-star in 2008. Top 10 A's prospect at start of year. not now.
could be expected to pitch for the A's or someone else in some capacity the next year or two.
2008- Tyson Ross- average at best with 4.79 in single A at the moment. top 25 prospect at start of year.
The A's are not very good at picking Hitters at all. Especially Shortstops.
Hitters first pick-
2000- Freddie Bynum SS- Bust
2001- Bobby Crosby SS- ROY- but now a big fat Bust
2002- Jeremy Brown -C- Bust
2004- Landon Powell-C- hitting .203 in 22 games. Not a Bust yet, but not great for a #1 either.
2005- Cliff Pennington-SS- .373 OBA/ 26 RBI in 75games AAA. probably a backup at best
2006- Mattew Sulentic-OF- .281 5HR in 61 AA games this year. was top 25 prospect. not anymore.
2007- Sean Doolittle- 1B- top 10 prospect.hasn't done skwat this year in AAA.moved fast. will play in majors.
2008- Jemile Weeks-2b- .366 A+. doing everything right at this point.
2009- Grant Green-SS- I know its a need but with our history of wasting #1's on bad shortstops I wish the A's luck.
bust after bust after bust. all our possible above avg. talent is in the last three drafts. If we get lucky and Doolittle becomes better than avg the A's will have been 1/8 in 2000-2007. If one of Weeks/Green work out 2/10 or 20%.
people have advocated not going after International FA pitchers or picking any high in the draft since we seem to have so much pitching depth but is this a good idea? Now no one can say the next 10 years will be the same as the last ten but at what point is the pattern undeniable and a change in phylosophy need to be made? would the A's be better off just drafting pitchers and pitchers only and trading them for AA hitters down the line that have proven themselfes to have value or upside? instead of 5 pitchers and mabey 2 hitters, if we could have 10 pitchers to mix and match in trade's and the rotation should we go that way?
Now the A's probably know if they would be even better at drafting pitchers by looking over old draft notes. If they had picked the best pitcher on their board the first two picks the last 10 years would those other pitchers be above avg? they couldnt do much worse on drafting hitters high.
In conclusion I think what the A's are doing with overpaying draft picks and International FA's is very smart. Drafting pitchers only high would be radical but could be smarter. Now if the A's have a just can't miss hitter high on all the A's scouts board very early (top 5) in the draft go for it but going with a strengh on drafting pitchers could be the next step for thinking outside the box for the A's.