As I roam around the baseball blogosphere, I find virtually no mention of the A's anywhere. All is Slegna vs. Rangers in the AL West. It would appear that the reigning AL West Champion team is generally considered to have been some sort of flash in the pan.
I might be persuaded to think the same, and I'd like to explore that with you below, but first, let's look at why absolutely no one is talking about the A's at all. (To some extent this is as true of AN as it is of anywhere else- most of our recent front page articles are either about departed teammates or other teams' acquisitions, or are lighthearted fan fare).
Most obviously: There are no rumors of trades involving the A's. Billy Beane is nowhere to be found. The A's made a pretty cool trade even before the postseason ended, and... nothing really since.
Meanwhile, the Rangers keep finding their upgrade options dwindling, the Slegna, who desperately need pitching, instead added a risky outfield star, thus depriving the Rangers of him and burdening themselves with yet another huge contract that will be a headache some year in the future for them. The Rangers, who are remarkably disciplined for a team with as much money as they have, still want to trade for or sign a replacement for Hamilton, and whoever it is will likely be a masher. Plus, they are obviously interested in acquiring another SP. I don't think they will be hugely weaker than they were last year, and the Slegna, while not hugely better, will not be worse either. I am pleased, however, that neither the Slegna nor the Rangers have landed a front-of-the-rotation guy- so far! The Mariners? I guess they aren't quite ready to compete just yet, unless they land some bats. Maybe, having lost out on Hamilton, THEY'll add Swish instead of the Rangers. And yet, the A's haven't really added anything, and have lost a few important pieces. It's not like our team was so dominant that they can afford to just ignore the attempts at upgrading our main rivals have made, and are likely to make, over the offseason.
It is so quiet that... How quiet is it, Reade (that's me)? It's so quiet that I am thinking Billy is up to something. Further, I think he needs to be up to something. The A's 2012 season was really, truly magical, but it is also quite possibly not repeatable without further tinkering.
- THREE of the five veteran presences given a lot of credit for keeping the team on an even keel during their second-half run are gone: Gomes, McCarthy and almost certainly Brandon EFFing Inge. far beyond their accumulated WAR, those are some clubhouse presences that aren't easily going to be replaced.
- There's this SS problem. A healthy completely recovered Stephen Drew would certainly help there, but what I saw last year wasn't any great shakes. He doesn't have the arm Cliffie did, and if his range was maybe greater, it still wasn't elite. I expect he will hit better than Penny, though, so if we can land him, that will be a slight upgrade.
- Josh Donaldson showed some great range at 3rd, but it was over a very short period. More importantly, he needs to continue to hit like he did at the end of the season or there will be a fairly big negative effect at 3rd, since neither he nor possibly Sizemore (if necessary) are going to hit with as much pop as Inge did, and will need to hit for average to make up for a downgrade in slugging.
- We need an actual backup infielder, too. Don't get me wrong, I liked picking up Young to make up for lowballing (and probably insulting) Gomes, but Cliff would be the ideal backup infielder. His cannon would play fine at 3rd when Josh or Scott needs a rest. We already know he can handle SS and 2nd. And he probably hits better than Rosales- although I do think Rosales has more range, I just am uncomfortable when he throws. Maybe we can entice Towers into yet another trade? I guess it's unlikely, since Cliff actually costs some money nowadays. More likely it will be either Rosales or Green. Perhaps Green will be a hitting upgrade, but we do not know that yet.
- 1B. We all hope Mossome is for real, and wasn't just a flash in the pan. We hope, and we will just have to find out.
- Chris Carter needs more AB's, but he's pretty awful in the field, and Melvin seemed to sour on using him there down the stretch. I just don't think he can sit for long periods and then be expected to mash like he did during his hot stretch. And it's going to be hard to get him enough AB's with Melvin's propensity to go strictly lefty/righty splits. Carter hits both well, but I think the real issue is getting the other platoon guys into the lineup, too.
- It's going to be hard to sit either Crisp (assuming he doesn't play like he did early in the season) or Young, considering they are both earning established starter money, find enough playing time for Smith, considering Cespedes probably owns LF and Reddick RF. all while still getting AB's for Carter.
- 2nd. This is not a huge concern to me. One of Sizemore, Weeks or Green will win the job, and the losers will be either spare parts or trade bait. Green, though, maybe he'll be the backup IF.
- Anderson. Can he stay healthy? Without him, the rotation is still decent, with very little drop off from Parker to Milone to Griffin to Straily to Blackley to Colon or however the rotation gets constructed, it's all good, but we really need a lights-out, healthy Anderson to go up against the baddest of our opponents.
With all these questions and with our rather scary opponents, do you think all this eerie quiet is just the calm before a major trade by Billy, or do you think we can afford to stand pat for the offseason (so long as we sign Drew) and address our questions as the season unwinds?