2014 - Thoughts and Predictions

All arms, legs...and winz!!!! - Doug Pensinger

Hey, all. Like in 2012, I had to take a brief sabbatical and cleanse myself of all things baseball after another early exit in the postseason. It took a few months, but I'm finally ready to jump back in. I've got that fever again, and the only prescription, of course, is baseball. (Well, my doctor says otherwise, but what does she know?)

I was reading through BWH's Jason Castro manifesto -- my personal opinion would be to say no to the trade, in part to preserve our SP depth, and in part because I don't know how much I buy Castro's offensive breakout -- and there's was some discussion amongst a few posters regarding what the last couple months of the offseason should look like: stand pat, or look for one or two more upgrades to the roster?

First, as it stands now, here's what I assume will be the 25-man roster heading into the season:

C - Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt, John Jaso

1B - Brandon Moss

2B - Eric Sogard, Alberto Callaspo

SS - Jed Lowrie

3B - Josh Donaldson

OF - Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Craig Gentry

UTIL - Nick Punto

SP - Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker, Scott Kazmir "Sweater", Dan Straily, AJ Griffin

RP - Sean Doolittle, Luke Gregerson, Jim Johnson, Ryan Cook, Dan Otero, Fernando Abad, Jesse Chavez

In terms of depth, Nate Freiman and Daric Barton are notable position players who will presumably go to Sacramento. The steady Tommy Milone, Josh "Missing o" Lindblom, and personal favorite Drew Pomeranz (more on that later) are the next men up for the rotation.

My projected vs RHP lineup:

Coco Crisp, CF

John Jaso, DH

Josh Donaldson, 3B

Yoenis Cespedes, LF

Jed Lowrie, SS

Brandon Moss, 1B

Josh Reddick, RF

Stephen Vogt, C

Eric Sogard, 2B

vs LHP:

Coco Crisp, DH

Jed Lowrie, SS

Josh Donaldson, 3B

Yoenis Cespedes, LF

Brandon Moss, 1B

Craig Gentry, CF

Derek Norris, C

Josh Reddick, RF

Alberto Callaspo/Nick Punto, 2B

Both look very good to me, and I'd be more than content if this is what we have come April. If I absolutely had to make an upgrade, I wouldn't mind another right handed option at second base, as both Callaspo and Punto seem less than inspiring. Nico suggested Jeff Baker last month, and while the Baker puns would seemingly prove to be far more morbid than Fister, Recker, or Parker, the lefty-mashing -- and I mean, seriously, dude eats lefties for breakfast, which fits with the whole cannibalistic theme -- utility man would be a huge offensive upgrade while also serving as a good replacement for Moss if you wanted to sit him often vs LHP. As for what happens to Callaspo in this scenario...I'm not sure, but he'd be superfluous and likely find himself donning black cleats when the season begins.

But that would be a minor upgrade, and as I said, I would be fine with our roster either way. I'll leave it open for the rest of the community to offer their opinions on the makeup of our roster in the comments and in a poll at the bottom of this post.

Last offseason, we had a 2013 predictions thread around this time and I thought it'd be fun to also open up that discussion for this year. I was hit (Donaldson, Moss) and miss (Peterson, BA, Cook, Griffin...I'm getting disheartened so I'll stop) last year, and will try to keep it as reasonable as possible this time around.

Majors predictions:

How do the AL West standings look at the end of the regular season?

My guess - I figure everyone will predict that we'll emerge on top, including me, but how do you see the rest of the division stacking up? I'll guess Oakland, Texas, LAA, Seattle, Houston, same as last season.

Who will break out/surprise us in 2014?

My guess - I love Brett Anderson. No, I lof Brett Anderson. That's no secret. I hope he is eventually able to stay healthy and transform into the ace I've always thought he could be. That said, although there seemed to be much hand-wringing over the return, I thought we did very well in acquiring Drew Pomeranz. He was a very high draft pick as recently as 2010, what with his 90s fastball and hammer curve from the left side. He's had some command issues, but his strikeout rate has been consistently good throughout the minors and majors, and I attribute at least some of his struggles in Colorado to his youth and, of course, Coors. I trust our development staff to get the best out of him, which I still think can eventually be a #3 starter, maybe a bit better than that. I can see him dominating at Sac and being the first call to fill in when a starter goes down.

Aside from Pomeranz, I predicted big things for Norris last season, and still believe he can eventually break out of his role as a platoon player to become the everyday guy at catcher. Gregerson has been a favorite of mine for years, and I see him being a really valuable, dominant piece out of the 'pen.

Who will slump/regress in 2014?

My guess - I don't know about slump, but the obvious choice here, I think, is Coco Crisp, who shouldn't come close to sniffing 20 HR again. I don't think he'll be terrible, I just expect a big decline in the power department. Donaldson will also likely see slight regression, but I think 2013 Donaldson was pretty much for real. He's a really special player.

The pessimistic part of me could see Cespedes more or less repeating his 2013.

Is anyone on the 25 man traded at the deadline? If so, who?

My guess - The most likely candidate seems to be Jim Johnson. If we do have a concerning hole offensively, and Johnson pitches as well as he usually does, I could see Beane flipping him to fill any gaps in the lineup.

Who will be the team's best hitter, starting pitcher, and relief pitcher in 2014?

My guess - Josh Donaldson, Sonny Gray, Luke Gregerson.

Which new acquisition will make the biggest impact?

My guess - Craig Gentry

Which player will we most regret trading away in 2014? Long term?

My guess - I'd say both players in that Gentry deal: Choice and Bostick, respectively.

What is the our record in 2014?

My guess - 95-67.

Bold predictions?

My guess - Josh Reddick bounces back to hit 25 homers. John Jaso gets 400+ PAs and is a top 5 DH.

Minors predictions:

Which prospect has the best chance to make an impact with the A's?

My guess - I use the term "prospect" as opposed to "minor leaguer" so as to eliminate 6th/7th starters and position guys like Freiman, Barton, Parrino, etc. Much of our upper tier talent still resides in the low minors, aside from Addison Russell, who I don't see making a cameo in 2014. Besides the aforementioned Pomeranz, I would go with Billy Burns and/or Arnold Leon.

Which prospect will see his stock rise the most in 2014?

My guess - I'm a huge fan of BJ Boyd. He destroyed the AZL, performed very well in the NYPL, and should start out this year in Low-A. He's drawn both somewhat superficial and somewhat accurate comparisons to Carl Crawford, and if he reaches his ceiling, that's the kind of skillset he projects to have. I'm really excited to track his progress. Matt Olson is another favorite of mine, but I'm less convinced he'll make huge strides this season.

Which prospect will see his stock fall the most in 2014?

My guess - I hate to say it, but Max Muncy really fell off after being promoted to the Texas League and he's going to have to convince me he wasn't somewhat of a Cal League mirage. Drew Granier's walk rate terrifies me.

Of the 2013 draftees, who will be ranked the highest on prospect lists at the end of 2014?

My guess - I'll take the easy route and say Billy McKinney.

Which prospect who nobody's talking about will make a name for himself in 2014?

My guess - Ryon Healy, one of my favorite picks from last year's draft.

That's it from me. Attached is a poll regarding what the plan should be for the remained of the offseason. Feel free to add your own predictions in the comments. I think I speak for everyone when I say, April can't come fast enough.

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