Hello Athletics Nation. This is my first fanpost. I don't have a deep knowledge of teams and players across the league, but I have something I wanted to bring up for discussion.
I'll start off by saying I think the 2014 team is very deep and nearly complete, with few needs. No, the lineup is not nine Mike Trouts, so there are upgrades we could make anywhere, but being reasonable baseball fans and amateur analysts, we know that it's best to focus on the fewest but most beneficial moves we could make.
Here's what I think the A's lack: a bat. Specifically, the bat. If you have a fresh memory of the 2012/2013 playoffs, or have even watched the A's lately against, say, Felix Hernandez, you'll know the lineup has trouble breaking through against ace pitching. I believe it's because, from 1 to 9, the A's don't have a scary hitter. They have a lot of good hitters - guys like Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespesdes, who will occasionally force an IBB or (more commonly) a late-inning pitching change. But these are .250 hitters who strike out a lot (Cespedes has yet to show a large sample size of his 2014 BB%/K%) as well.
How, then, do we take the A's lineup and upgrade it from good to scary? Start with the slots with the most room for improvement - 1B and RF! Naturally, the DH position should be looked at as well, since the roster is full of guys who can rotate between it and defensive positions.
What I'd love for AN to do with me is: look for hitters with contracts ending this year or with reasonable salaries for 2015 (figuring that the A's will carry at least one Callaspo / Young type for $10M each season). Even better, if you know they or their ownership aren't exactly leaping at the chance to re-sign this year for megabucks and longterm security.
Some links (potentially outdated - I'd love a better source):
My suggestion: RF/1B Michael Cuddyer. Consider this:
- He's not exactly excited to stick with the Rockies beyond this year: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/04/hellweg-cuddyer-espinosa.html
- He bats over .300 away from Coors Field.
- He gets on base well enough - ~9% career walk rate. An A's must!
- He only makes $10.5M this year, which (with really simple math) would only hook the A's for less than $5M around the deadline.
- His splits are good enough that he could play every day, keeping any of Reddick, Sogard, Punto, or Barton (if Barton were even kept on the roster) on the bench until late-inning defensive subs.
- He's currently on the DL (15 day, hammy) - could lessen his perceived value a bit.
- The NL west is competitive, and LA could be running away with it by late summer like they were last year, lessening any win-now mindset in Colorado.
Imagine a lineup like this:
1. CF Coco Crisp
2. SS Jed Lowrie
3. DH Michael Cuddyer (figuring he offers the least on defense, less than Callo)
4. 3B Josh Donaldson
5. 1B Brandon Moss / LF Yoenis Cespedes (based on pitcher handedness - but maybe Moss moves back further)
6. other Moss / Cespedes
7. 2B Alberto Callaspo
8. C John Jaso / Derek Norris (platoon)
9. RF Josh Reddick / Craig Gentry (platoon)
AN also collectively knows far, far more than myself about the farm system and potential trade prospects, so who would you be willing to let go of for a rental of either Cuddyer or your batter of choice?
Have fun with this one :)