I think it's pretty clear that we need upgrades offensively right now, but this post will focus more on 2012 and beyond. One way or another, Kouz will be gone by the end of 2011, and the expiring contracts (and sketchy injury histories) of Crisp and Willingham could leave some gaping holes in the outfield. Without any obvious help coming from the minors at the moment, the A's may very well have to look outside of the organization for help.
It isn't necessary at all, but I've always wanted to say this -- more after the jump
I'll start by saying that I've always been a big fan of Adrian Cardenas, and Stephen Parker's bat has garnered some positive reviews, but both might have trouble handling the position and I think it'd be a mistake to bank on either to start full-time in 2012.
Also, I won't mention the usual suspects (Stewart, Wright, Headley) because they've already been discussed as possibilities a lot here.
James Darnell - Another one of my favorite prospects (along with several other minor leaguers in that system), Darnell has gotten off to a blistering start in Double-A San Antonio this year, hitting .433/.541/.761 in 18 games. John Sickels covered him last week on his site. Aside from the first half of last season when he dealt with a hand injury, he has hit everywhere since being drafted in 2008.
There have been rumblings that he may have to move to right field, but he has the tools to play third. As John mentioned, he has the range and arm strength to play 3rd, but just makes too many mistakes. Even if a move to the outfield is in his future, the A's could use him there as well. I'm not great with comps, but I could see Corey Koskie-type numbers from Darnell. He has a good bat.
What would it take to get him? I'm not great with trade scenarios, but with Headley at third and a potential glut in the OF in the future for the Padres, I can't think he'd be too tough to pry away. Maybe something starting with Krol or FDLS?
Allen Craig - Like Darnell, he would questionable at third. Probably moreso than Darnell, actually. But also like Darnell, he's done nothing but hit since he got drafted. He has a .308/.370/.518 career line in the minors, and while you may be quick to dismiss that as an older guy beating up on younger competition, he raked as a 22 year old in High-A and at 23 in the Texas League. He had just been pigeonholed in Triple-A the last couple years before finally scoring some playing time on the ML roster this season.
Again, I don't know whether or not he'd be able to handle third adequately. I haven't seen him play there. But he has moved around and is currently playing in left, so he might be a solution there too if he can't play third. I can't imagine that it would take more than a B-/C+ prospect to get him. Reminds me a little of Ryan Ludwick.
Jed Lowrie - He could probably be considered one of the "usual suspects", but I think he should be our number one target if we're looking for someone to play 3rd. It'll be harder now to trade for him now since he's hitting well and Scutaro's contract is expiring. It might take Ross, but I 'd do that. .284/.380/.445 in the minors, .287/.381/.526 in 55 games last year, .390/.413/.610 in 18 games so far this year. Grade A- from Sickels as a prospect. Health has been the one thing holding him back.
With Chris Carter looking more and more like a DH every day, and Michael Taylor continuing to, well, suck, we could have a lot of holes to fill in the outfield come 2012. These are some guys I think we should target there:
Ryan Kalish - I think he's always been somewhat underrated as a prospect because he doesn't have one tool that stands out, but he can play center, really controls the zone, and has a good power-speed combo. I could see some years where he hits .280 and goes 20/20. He was squeezed out of the crowded Boston outfield before the year, but I'm sure they still think highly of him. I would dangle any of Ross, Carter, Choice, Weeks, or Green to get him, he's really one of my favorites and could hold down center for years.
Chris Young - Might be a little far-fetched, but if the D-backs were dangling Upton this past offseason, why not Young? He'll strike out a lot but is a legit 30/30 threat and plays great defense in center. He's had some poor years but is coming off a great one in 2010, so maybe he figured some things out. Like with Kalish, there aren't really any prospects of ours I wouldn't give up for him.
Luke Scott - Honestly, I thought he and Willingham would already be on this team a year or two ago. He still might be a good fit for left in 2012 as a guy who will play solid defense, get on base, and hit 20-25 or so homers. Can't think that the Orioles would ask for too much. And who knows, if we're in it but the Orioles aren't around the ASB, maybe Beane could try to pick him up for the stretch run.
So what say you, AN? Who are some possible 3rd basemen or outfielders we're not discussing who you think the team should go after? Or do you think our in-house options will be sufficient?