Ok folks, Los Atleticos are playing great baseball that is fun to watch, and considering the A's are going nowhere this season regardless of how they play the rest of the way, I thought it would be fun to think a little more about 2010. Next year is still very much a transition year on the way to 2011, when many a great prospect is slated to arrive, but the way the A's are playing recently there seems to be hope for a very fun and competitive 2010. After all, the young starters will have a year under their belt, and good starting pitching can make any team competitive. However, its still important to recognize that the A's will be EVEN YOUNGER next season, and as a result, Billy needs to keep/acquire some good veteran talent to provide leadership and direction to the youngsters.
On the pitching side, Zarro seems to be coming out of his recent funk (three runs isn't a big inning, right?) with two straight wins aided by good run support, Anderson (Fee Fii Fo Fum) is looking more and more like the real deal #1 Ace of the future since the 2 hitter in Boston, Cahill finally got through a start without giving up a home run, and Gio has been down right filthy his last 4 starts. Truly, for the first time it appears ALL four are settling in, making adjustments, and learning how to pitch at the major league level.
On the hitting/fielding side, I think its safe to say BoCro and Nomah will not be back, if they even make it to the end of the season. (Doubt it...) Also, it is likely Wallace will start next season in the bigs, and will be given a legit chance to stick at 3rd. (Remember Chavy was terrible defensively early on, so don't write the kid off at 3rd.) Pennington is proving a capable stopgap at SS until Ladendorf or Green (sign please) are ready, Ellis will be back at 2nd, and Tommy Time, given his great/unexpected play and local kid appeal, will most likely be playing 1st. Cust of course will remain at DH, absurdly playing the occasional right field.
Speaking of the outfield, it appears as though Hairston will play LF, Rajai with his amazing recent run will play CF, and Sweeney (despite constant hate from many at AN) will play RF. Cunningham and (hopefully) Buck will get their shot at the 4th outfielder spot.
Truly, with the exception of Ellis and a couple vets in the Pen, this team will basically be a bunch of kids screaming for veteran guidance and leadership. No, Cust and Raj don't count, even if they are approaching 30. As a result, the A's need to re/sign three key veterans.
First, AK has proven himself a leader and a damn good utility player that can play everyday if injuries take their toll. (as they always seem to do with the A's) He can play 3B/2B/1B very well, and even play a respectable SS in an emergency spot start. Second, the A's should resign Duke. Coming off yet another injury, he will be a relatively/comparatively inexpensive option given his All-Star skill level when healthy. Duke would push Braden from the rotation into the Pen as the long man/spot starter. Sure, Braden is serviceable as a 5th starter. Much like a Jaime Moyer, a decent lefty can always find a place somewhere as a 5th guy, but he would be fantastic out of the pen. Duke is just better when healthy and would provide key All-Star leadership to the youngest rotation in the league. Besides, Braden will most likely get a spot in the rotation at some point, as it would be a minor miracle for the A's rotation to make it through a season unscathed.
Lastly, the A's should acquire one more veteran utility infielder that can play SS. I believe this veteran should be a right handed bat to offset Pennington, and because AK would be playing the lefty role off the bench. Some of you will say Billy should go after O-Cab, and I would not be against that if he were willing to come off the bench in a utility role. I do not imagine O-Cab allowing that to happen, and as a result he is not the answer.
Instead, I am calling on Billy to take one of two alternative options. First, and my favorite option, would be to re-aquire Marco Scutaro. He will be 35, and I think it would be great to get him back in Oakland where he can rekindle the late inning magic he is so famous for. The other option, dare I say it, is El Guapo Omar Visquel. I have always loved the guy, and I would love to see him in green and gold. Either way the youngest team in the league would have all the veteran leadership and guidance they need.