Call me crazy, but I think the A's have gotten better. I'm not just talking about the 2015 San Jose A's - I'm talking about the 2012 Oakland version. Sure, we have no Compliant Pig or deJesus, but there is no reason for dismay. Trust me, we're going to be good this year!
Okay, maybe not good, but possibly better than you think. I'm going to live in a fantasy world where injuries don't exist for just a minute. If we could pretend that we really only need 6 starters in 2012 (since Anderson will miss part of the year from hanging out too much with James Andrews or Yocum or whoever did the surgery), we might still have a similar performance from our pitching staff in 2012. Consider the following beautiful graphic display:
Listed above are stats from the last two seasons. I made up the last stat - WAR/202 - as a way to compare the WAR of each player given that they had all pitched as many innings as Trevor Cahill averaged (which of course only Gio came close to).
Assuming everyone except Brett Anderson is healthy at the beginning of ST and stays that way for the rest of the season, we just traded our number 2 and 4/5 starters for quite a hefty package of prospects. And it's not that our #2 was even that much better than the alternatives. Our starting pitcher WAR (assuming al of the pitchers threw 202 innings next year) should have been around 18. (I split the season between Anderson and Josh Outman) Instead, since we just traded our 2 & 4/5 pitchers, we'll be around 17.1. This is assuming that Anderson splits the season with Guillermo Moscoso. This leaves us with a difference of 0.9 WAR.
We also lost Andrew Bailey and got back a couple of low leve, high upside guys in return. Bailey had .9 WAR in 2011, so I'm not too worried about recoupoing that WAR. Closers for the A's are a dime a dozen (or 1 for $450,000 with your frequent shopper card). When you add in Breslow's 0.8 WAR from last year, the A's traded 2.6 WAR in 2011 for 9 prospects. And we saved ~12 million from Cahill, Bailey, Breslow and Gio's salaries.
The news gets evern better though! Those prospects we traded for are not garbage. In fact, between Peacock, Milone, and Parker, they are a combined 3-0 in the big leagues. These guys are undefeated! That means that if one of our starters gets injured, we get to replace him with a guy that has never ever lost a major league baseball game. If they haven't lost yet, why should we assume that they ever will? Seems logical to me.
We've also lost about 5 WAR from free agents Willingham, DeJesus, and Godzilla and other big time contributors to the 2011 debacle Ellis, Kouzmanoff, CoJax, et. al. We also picked up a good player in Josh Reddick, who in a half season put up ~2 WAR. If Barton is back to his 5 WAR self after recovering from his peanut allergy or whatever it was that killed his 2011, that would seem to account for more than what we're losing in position players.
Assuming Chris Carter hits 35 HR in 2012 and Brandon Allen translates his AAA success into Big League mashing, it looks to me like we're competing for the 5th playoff spot! Somehow, the A's have figured out a way to cut 30 million in payroll, acquire 9 prospects, and make the team better in 2012. Beane truly is a genius.