Haven't posted in awhile, but all that means is that there's a ton of crap bubbling in my head. Here are some of my recent - but not altogether lucid - thoughts concerning our little engine that could (or could not) of a baseball team:
Roster Spots: I think pretty much the entire AN community is convinced that Daric Barton should be the A's everyday 1B to begin 2010. Any roster scenario that sends him back down to the minors to start the season just seems really short-sighted. With that being said, and Chavez somewhat healthy taking up one bench spot, the team in need of 7 relievers, Gross signed to a major-league contract, Adam Rosales looking good and two OOO (out of options) dudes vying for a spot...who stays and who goes?
Despite his poor spring, I say the team should keep Fox if it comes down to him and Patterson; then Rosales should be sent down for the time being (the trade of Petit should clear the way for Rosales to play everyday SS at Sacramento). Patterson could be a nifty little player - especially for an NL team - but his "utility" doesn't seem all that it's cracked up to be, since he's basically a platoon player with some speed who doesn't have a ton of defensive versatility. The organization also has a bit of depth of lefty-swinging psuedo-2nd basemen in Adrian Cardenas and Eric Sogard, who both seem like better hitters going forward. As far as Patterson's speed, I think that with Rajai, Crisp and Pennington playing mostly everyday, this team won't lack for basestealing threats.
Fox, on the other hand, despite his poor Spring, seems like a better fit for this team that is probably going to lack for power most of this year and probably next year, especially without an immediate breakout from both Carter and Taylor whenever they come up. The A's are mostly stacked with lefty-hitting corner guys as well (Brown, Buck, Barton, Peterson, Sulentic, Doolittle) while - besides Carter and Taylor - they don't have a real reliable corner right-handed bat with pop. Fox might be a well below-average defender, but at the very least he DOES have experience at catcher, third base, left field, right field and first base.
Further down the line in May or so, once the starters hit their stride and the bullpen reaches full strength, I really think that the team could drop down to 6 relievers and bring Rosales back-up to be an additional bench player.
What is Beane Going to do With All That Money?: Over at BP today, they ran a nice little story called "Contractual Matters" that basically broke down all of the future guaranteed salary commitments for all of the teams in the AL West. The A's have a whopping $6.8 million in guaranteed salary committed for 2011 - including the buy-outs for Chavez, Ellis and Crisp and the second year of Wuertz's 2-year deal. The team only has $250,000 committed in guaranteed salary for 2012 (Wuertz's 3rd-year buy-out).
This will obviously change once Suzuki/Anderson/Bailey/etcetera get signed to long-term, arby-year-chewing extensions and Sweeney, Kouz and Braden get raises in arbitration, but even so, it certainly appears that for the next few seasons especially, this organization will have a significant amount of payroll flexibility. By my fairly conservative calculations involving very rough arbitration raise estimates and buy-out cash awards, this team could roll into 2011 with something like a $35 million payroll, if Chavez, Ellis and Crisp are all bought-out after this season and every other player is retained after the season.
Now, even if ownership only allows for a projected 2011 payroll equivalent to this year's projected payroll ($55 million) it still appears that this team could have something like $20 million to spend in the off-season. That's a significant amount of cash. Unfortunately, the quality of the 2011 free agent class doesn't really seem all that great in terms of fits for the A's - I guess Adam Dunn would be intriguing, but that would pretty much necessitate Carter playing full-time in the field for however long he's under contract. The other hitters on the market either have significant warts or really will likely be snatched-up by the Yankees (Carl Crawford, anyone?)
I'm thinking that a long-shot possibility could be the A's possibly re-signing of Ben Sheets...right now, with Ben getting hit around by Giants' minor leaguers and still looking to get back into "ace" shape, this doesn't seem like a very likely scenario. But just think: if he gets back to being the Sheets of old, stays relatively healthy most of the season and helps the A's play above-.500 ball for the year and he enjoys himself...what would stop the A's from thowing some legit cash at him to stay around for a few years (2 years/$24 million with 3rd year option?) to continue to front the staff in front of the young guys? I think that could work out pretty well for both sides, and if it did, it would likely allow the A's to possibly package a young pitcher or two for some legit impact major league offensive talent in a year or so.
As for 2012...I am kind of looking forward to that free agent class. I'm kind of crossing my fingers that both Jason Bartlett and JJ Hardy stay un-extended and stay relatively productive, especially as defensive players. GRant Green could certainly be the A's shortstop by that time, but I'm still not convinved he can stay there long-term and both of those guys might still be fairly attractive options at short by that time.
Anyways, that's just a thought.
Warriors Sale?: Now that it seems extremely likely that Chris Cohan will sell the Warriors sometime this year, I got to thinking about how that will affect the A's. I think that in a weird way, it could benefit them, especially in terms of the A's relationship with the Giants, vis-a-vis San Jose. Word is, many of the possible purchasers of the Warriors would definitely like to eventually go into partnership with the the Giants and move the team into a brand-new arena right next to AT and T Park in San Francisco.
I'm thinking that if that were to happen eventually, it might in an off-handed way give the A's to San Jose a boost, in that MLB and the rest of the Bay Area could look at the Giants and be like, "You've been raking in money at AT & T for years now and now you'll be raking-in money for the next decade with this new arena, so now you've got two sports basically monopolized in the Bay Area, so stop crying poor." At the same time, if the Giants get embroiled in this type of major development, I doubt that really be as vehement in opposing an A's move to San Jose anyways.
I know that most East Bay-ites will not like my take on this, given the loyal following the Warrios have there...but it just kind of strikes me as an interesting development that could help the A's stay in the Bay Area long-term.
Actually...it might also help the Raiders and 49ers stay there too...
In my perfect world, the Warriors and Giants get San Francisco, the A's get a new facility in San Jose and the Niners and Raiders would share a completely renovated for football-only Oakland Colisuem. That way, each major segment of the Bay Area is hosting major sporting events and every major sports team currently residing in the area, stays there in a fairly comfortable, teneble situation. But maybe I'm completely dreaming...
What do you all think?