FanPost

Public Rosterbation

 

A tremulous off season, and a lot of roster turnover, and we’ve got both an incomplete team and a lot of spare parts. At least, that’s what the initial feeling seems like. It’s time again to pull out the old notebook and see what we have, where we have it, and what we can do to improve.

The A’s have made several signings and a trade here and there, and have let some people go that AN may or may not be happy seeing out the door, depending on who you ask. Let’s take a look at the additions and subtractions first.

Additions:
David DeJesus LF/RF/CF
Hideki Matsui DH
Brandon McCarthy P
Rich Harden P

Not a whole lot coming in. We have a solid OF, a Designated Hitter, and two reclamation projects to battle with two other reclamation projects for the 5th Starter Spot. A far cry from the elation we experienced when we thought that Iwakuma would be our 5th Starter, and the still-lingering hope that Adrian Beltre would grace that list as well, with Berkman, instead of Matsui, as the Designated Hitter.

 

 

Departures:
Jack Cust DH/OF
Rajai Davis CF
Travis Buck OF
Eric Chavez DH/3B
Vin Mazzaro SP
Edwin Encarnacion 3B

To many AN’ers, the loss of Cust hurts a lot, especially to the Mariners, who now have a strange DH situation between two Ex-A’s, Milton Bradley and Cust. The A’s made a great deal sending Mazzaro to the Royals for Dejesus, and selling Rajai Davis for a couple relief prospects. Encarnacion was only an Athletic in name, but not in body, having been picked up off waivers then non-tendered, accompanied by once-prospect Travis Buck and the long awaited decline of Eric Chavez’s option.

All in all, the A’s got better this off season, but the real question is by how much, as of the team’s three major holes identified previously going into the off season, only one has been filled. But let’s take a look at the situation right now as it stands.

Catcher:
Kurt Suzuki
Landon Powell
Josh Donaldson

First Base:
Daric Barton
Conor Jackson
Chris Carter

Second Base:
Mark Ellis
Adam Rosales
Steve Tolleson
Eric Sogard
Adrian Cardenas

Third Base:
Kevin Kouzmanoff
Adam Rosales
Steve Tolleson
Eric Sogard
Adrian Cardenas

Shortstop:
Cliff Pennington
Adam Rosales

Corner Outfield:
David DeJesus
Ryan Sweeney
Conor Jackson
Chris Carter
Michael Taylor

Centerfield:
Coco Crisp
David DeJesus
Ryan Sweeney

Designated Hitter:
Hideki Matsui
Chris Carter

All together, that does not look like much. Let’s try taking the players who are above average, who we can write in for next season comfortably.

C1 Kurt Suzuki
1B Daric Barton
2B Mark Ellis
3B
SS Cliff Pennington
LF David DeJesus
RF
CF Coco Crisp
DH Hideki Matsui

What we have is a lot of mediocrity that is good enough to hold the slot, but not good enough to be heads above the competition on other teams. It does, especially, highlight our weakness at Third Base and Right Field, two places that were priorities entering the season, and have yet to be dealt with.

The obvious solution for one of those positions would be to again try to convince Adrian Beltre to even look at the A’s offer, and get him for the foreseeable future. Barring this, it looks like Kevin Kouzmanoff will man the hot corner for the A’s again this year.

In Right Field, it is a much different story. There is not much left on the free agent market other than possibly Magllio Ordonez, who looks like he will be resigning with Detroit, if he has not already. There is always the trade market, such as how we got DeJesus, but it is risky and we do have to give up someone to get someone, even if we got DeJesus on the cheap. Josh Willingham is a distinct possibility, whom I would fully endorse going after, though the A’s are rumored to have already kicked the tires on that possibility, with Washington asking too much in return. You can speculate all day on trades and targets, but the problem is that none of the scenarios we will think of will match up, because we will undoubtedly overcompensate one way or the other.

If we go the in-house option for the outfield, the obvious solution would be a platoon of Conor Jackson and Ryan Sweeney, which is a dangerous situation to be in. Both players are severely injury prone, coming off bad years. Sweeney was once upon a time a very valuable outfielder for the A’s, but has since lost his knees, removing much of his defensive value. Jackson has lost his health and his hammy, and no matter how much we believe we have the kid who came out of Cal, the odds say he belongs on the alumni softball club rather than a major league baseball team. However, there is a good chance that the A’s could make due with a Sweeney/Jackson platoon until they feel that Chris Carter can hit at the major league level and take over duties there. Still, I would prefer a trade for a star outfielder, though who knows if we have the chips.

Barring any star free agents suddenly becoming willing to sign with us, or any ‘fuckin-A’ trades being pulled off from out of nowhere, it looks like we will enter the season with a positional roster looking something like this:

C1 Kurt Suzuki
1B Daric Barton
2B Mark Ellis
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
SS Cliff Pennington
LF David DeJesus
RF Ryan Sweeney
CF Coco Crisp
DH Hideki Matsui

C2 Landon Powell
BN Conor Jackson
BN Adam Rosales
BN Sogard or Tolleson

Now for the other side of the ball, the side that A’s fans like the most, mainly through default. The pitching staff was awesome last year, and this year should be great as well. We will have much the same core as last year, though with the prospect of improved health, a few new faces, and some players coming back from injury that could be potential game changers.

Starting Pitchers:
SP Brett Anderson
SP Trevor Cahill
SP Gio Gonzalez
SP Dallas Braden
SP Brandon McCarthy
SP Rich Harden
SP Josh Outman
SP Bobby Cramer
SP Tyson Ross
SP Clay Mortensen

That’s a lot of pitching depth, with Harden and McCarthy added recently, and Outman recovering from Tommy John Surgery. And remember, that anyone after the 4th spot in this scenario will be possible bullpen fodder, which helps out that side as well.

Relief Pitchers:
CL Andrew Bailey
RP Mike Wuertz
RP Craig Breslow
RP Brad Ziegler
RP Joey Devine
RP Henry Rodriguez
RP Jerry Blevins

Despite the battle for the 5th Starter spot, and likely spill over into the bullpen, much of the bullpen looks set with the return of Devine. Jerry Blevins and Henry Rodriguez both have tenuous grasps of slots in the pen, however, and can likely be bumped to make room for people from the 5th starter battle. Rodriguez could be dealt to a team that values his 100MPH arm, and Blevins is what he is; a LOOGY.

My projections for the pitching staff:

SP Brett Anderson
SP Trevor Cahill
SP Gio Gonzalez
SP Dallas Braden
SP Brandon McCarthy

CL Andrew Bailey
RP Craig Breslow
RP Mike Wuertz
RP Brad Ziegler
RP Joey Devine
RP Rich Harden
RP Bobby Cramer

One interesting thing this year is that the A’s did not go after their customary reliever/backup rule 5 draft pick. This could either mean that the A’s thought the Rule 5 draft was very thin this year (which is saying something considering their record in the draft), that the A’s feel confident with their depth on the bench and the bullpen, or that they realized that their approach to the rule 5 draft was severely flawed, and decided to eschew it until they could re-examine their process (the reason I am hoping for).

Ultimately what we have here is a team with a good pitching staff and a mediocre offense, which is pretty much what we had last year. This is not a team that can have many hopes to push to the playoffs if their completion is strong. The lineup has too many holes, too much mediocrity, and no great hitters to pick up the slack. A reason to have a great hitter in your lineup is that when no one else is hitting, he at least can pull the lineup with him. The A’s will have no slack in that regard, and cannot afford any slumps by multiple players with their current talent level. I expect to see a lot of the same; low scoring games with the pressure on the pitching staff not to give up any leads for fear that the offense cannot compensate. This could all change drastically with the addition of two more bats at Third and Right Field, because if you add Willingham and Beltre into that lineup, all of a sudden that is a team that can win the AL West.

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