Its all about UPGRADING the team (2011 content)

Over the last bunch of weeks and essentially all this season, every poster on here has given their views on who we should target in a trade this offseason. This post will give you our current team's WAR (fangraphs) per position, where that ranks, and who is available via a FA (or trade) that is a significant upgrade over what we have.


*PERSONAL NOTE* I'm really happy with 2010 although it was frustrating watching us trot out replacement level garbage in the corner outfield positions, I feel like a Ryan Ludwick type really could have made things more interesting with Texas, but it appears Billy Beane looks gun-shy after the Matt Holliday fiasco and sat on his hands, combing over the garbage and throwing it at the wall to see if it stuck. Only Chris Carter really got the fans excited in his last 30 PA's, and so ends our night. Nevertheless the team satisfied both sides of their fanbase, securing a protected pick AND finishing at .500 and in 2nd place.

1B: Daric Barton 4.9. The 7th best 1B in baseball this year. The guy who finally looks to have it all together. He's not living up to those Mark Grace (good) comps, he's looking more like another Kevin Youkilis (better). The AL leader in walks, he's showing jussst enough power to have you want to believe that the 24 year old will be hitting 20+ dingers on the regular by the time he's 30. Out of the 6 players in front of him, 3 are untouchable (Morneau, Pujols, Votto), one is extremely expensive (MigCab) and 1 is about to be (Ade-Gon). The other is Huff....who I'm sure exactly 0% of people reading this would prefer over Barton. Barton's only issue is that because we have others who are good hitters who cant play anywhere but 1B/DH, meaning: it would be ideal if Barton moved to 2B, 3B or LF, but even that's not very worth it. You do not mess with a 5 WAR guy. Verdict: No way to upgrade/keep him.

2B: Mark Ellis 3.2. Wow, I'm confused. Ellis sat at 1.8 no less than 3 weeks ago but a blistering September threw him into the top 10 2B, tying Orlando Hudson and making himself a Type A Free Agent. In terms of improving here, the players who might be available are Rickie Weeks (6.1), Kelly Johnson (6.0), Dan Uggla (5.1) and Hudson. How do we take Ellis's season though? He was miserable at the plate for 3 months, then a total god in the last one (That was a 988 OPS for those counting). You gotta think Ellis's Sept was a clear fluke and he's still not going to $6MM on the open market. I'd take him on a 1/$3MM deal but I think Hudson is a better option, and Weeks the most interesting.

Johnson looks like a product of his park, but still has the defensive chops to be an interesting target. Uggla is a masher through and through, but awful on defense. However, only Hudson and Ellis will not cost players.  Hudson did lead all 2B in UZR and suffered a wrist injury that sapped his effectiveness at the plate.  Verdict: Either sign Hudson to a 1/5, Ellis to a 1/3 or trade for Weeks.

SS: Cliff Pennington 3.7. Ladies and gents, we have the 6th best SS in baseball here. He's young and was largely misrepresented by his injury-riddled minor league numbers. You should believe in him, but if you ever have a chance to upgrade you should. That would mean acquiring Hanley Ramirez or Steven Drew which in this case, are unlikely occurrences. Verdict: No way to upgrade/keep him.

3B: Kevin Kouzmanoff 2.9. This one is quite strange, is Kouz that good on defense? Does he really stink that much with the bat? The talent pool at 3B is starting to dwindle after years of greatness, at this point only Adrian Beltre is available and an upgrade, unless you want to overpay for David Wright. I don't think Case Headley is available either.  I'd like another look at Kouz, perhaps with him never hitting higher than 7th all year, I think he might be better than this year with the bat, and might keep that glove up and around the better ones, he's still young enough to change his approach at the plate. Verdict: Throw as much money and years at Adrian Beltre as possible, or stand pat.

C: Kurt Suzuki/Landon Powell 1.9. Awful, awful, awful production from a spot where we expected more. Zooks approach at the plate fell off a cliff, its like he punished the A's for locking him up with a new contract. Sadly, there's not much we can do here, I'd love to somehow get Mike Napoli and give him 550 PA's but the A's aren't going to admit they blew money on a guy who had a bad year, compounded by being played relentlessly. Rest well this winter Kurt, we need you better than you were this year. Verdict: Create a new "player kidnapping" rule and throw Joe Mauer in the van, drive back to Oakland, win the World Series....or hope that Kurt goes to hitting school in the offseason. Either way we cant upgrade because we are locked in with Suzuki.

OF: Raj Davis/Coco Crisp/Ryan Sweeney/Gabe Gross/Eric Patterson 4.8. Yup, 4.8. That's pathetic. Barton was worth as much as all 5 combined. That's not good. Crisp reps 3.3 of that 4.8, so he can stay, but how hard will it be to replace a total of 1.5 WAR between 4 players? Um, easy as hell. This is why we were not contenders this year. If you want to get all micro with it, those 4 players are what sunk our year: Patterson & Gross are gone/goners, and Raj will most likely be relegated to a 5th OF/PR spot. That leaves Sweeney, who will most likely be hurt anyway and needs to be gotten rid of simply because we cant afford to upgrade the places where we have similar hitters, namely C & 3B. These 3 new players will need to be a starting LF, a starting RF and a 4th OF.

Chris Carter looks to have done enough to be in LF on opening day, that leaves us with a RF need, a guy who can play defense and hit well. We know for sure Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth will be available (and looking at the most money), I'm supportive of buying low on Magglio Ordonez too (although his D is just average). Other potential upgrades who may be available via trade include Shin Soo-Choo, Nick Swisher, Corey Hart, JD Drew, David DeJesus (at deadline), Cody Ross, Ryan Ludwick. Verdict: Re-up Crisp and go with Carter in LF and either sign Crawford, Werth or Ordonez or trade for Choo, Swisher, Hart, Drew, DeJesus, Ross or Ludwick. Release Sweeney, keep Rajai as a 5th OF, and find a better hitting 4th than Sweeney.

DH: Jack Cust 2.4. Okay, I'm just about sick and goddamn tired of people hating on Jack Cust. He was the 4th best hitting DH in the AL this year, despite missing 6 weeks due to poor front office player management. Give him a full year and he's probably #1 or 2. Unless you want to get Papi, Manny, Konerko or Dunn, you simply cannot upgrade over him based off this year with players that are available. Paying big money on a long term deal for a DH = not smart GMing either. Cust will cost us around $3-4MM and that's a perfect complimentary piece for our new RF and the Cartermasher in LF. Verdict: Let Cust play 150+ games, watch the offense roll in.

Adam Rosales 1.6. Funny thing about Rosales, he was second in innings at 1B, 2B, SS & 3B and even had 3 games in LF. That makes him a pretty nice versatile bat off the bench...which is where he belongs. Some people have been talking about giving him an everyday role, I think that would be as smart as sticking Cust in LF full time. Verdict: keep him on the bench, we are A's after all he will probably get 400+ PAs anyway, unless he gets injured himself like he did this year, in TrueAthletic© fashion.

There you have it, a nice little jumpoff for those thinking about offseason targets. We can in theory make moves, but in this writers opinion the only one we really need to make is bringing in a new RF. Beltre and finding a more interesting option at 2B would be nice, but look like pipe dreams, as does the reality of trying to sign Carl Crawford. A full season from Anderson, Crisp, Bailey & Weurtz certainly makes the A's better, as would a nice rebound from Outman and Devine. Carter knows how to hit bombs and Barton looks like he's on the up and up, we are almost there folks. Things are definitely going to be more interesting in 2011 for sure.

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