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If No Deal, A's "To-Do" List For The Rest Of The Season, And The Off-Season

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The trade deadline has come and gone, and barring a post-deadline announcement it appears that Joe Blanton, Mike Piazza, and the rest of the crew are still A’s. Assuming that the team we’ve known is the team we still have, here’s one fan’s view of how the A’s need to approach the time between August 1st and April 1st in order to return to being a contender in 2008…

THE REST OF THE SEASON

  • Donnie Murphy needs to play at SS every day. I am worried that Chavez’ return will put Scutaro at SS and Murphy on the bench and that would be a big mistake. The A’s need to find out what Murphy can and cannot do as an everyday SS. My suspicion is that Murphy is good enough to be a real plus option as a platoon player that his range and his hitting against RHP will prove not quite good enough to be the right SS option over 150 games. Assuming Murphy is not the answer, I would love to see the A’s make a play, over the Winter, for a long-term SS solution, and I would hate to see the A’s give Crosby “one more year to see what he can do”. We know what Crosby can and cannot do and we know what Scutaro can and cannot do. We have a chance to learn a lot about Donnie Murphy and we need to. Now.
  • The A’s should seriously consider shutting Huston Street down for the rest of the season. His injury scared me and it scared me even more to hear he was not feeling great after his first outing. Meanwhile, the A’s have Andrew Brown starting to throw better and featuring a 97 MPH fastball. Does Brown have what it takes to be a set-up man or closer? Why not use August and September to find out what Brown can do by throwing him into the closer role for two months, while resting Street to maximize the chance he can come back strong in 2008?

If August and September can’t bring us the excitement of a pennant race, perhaps it can at least bring us some valuable information about Murphy and Brown. (Quick, someone call Candice Bergen!)

THE OFF-SEASON

Everyone will have a different opinion on what the A’s should do, and Beane undoubtedly will have a different one yet. I believe the A’s are two pieces away from contending in 2008 and they are substantial pieces: A shortstop and a CFer, one of whom can bring a middle-of-the-order bat to the party. I do believe the A’s have the resources, though barely, to fill this tall order.

I think the A’s need to make one big splurge, whether it means spending money or spending talent. The A’s may not have a lot of money to spend but they have even less talent to spend, so it may be time to open up the pocketbook for one good gamble. With no appealing shortstops on the market, I would make a strong bid for Aaron Rowand if he can be secured for 4-5 years at 10-12 million/year. I think he would be worth it, because he provides a legitimate bat from the right side, plays excellent defense, and does it at one of the key positions the A’s need to improve.

Then I would look for the next A’s shortstop via trade. Might something along the lines of Dan Johnson, Dallas Braden, and Bobby Crosby fetch Felipe Lopez coming off of a down year? Between Lopez, the intriguing Chin-Lung Hu, and other possibilities, the next A’s shortstop is out there somewhere and he’s available for a package the A’s can afford to offer.

<dreaming> Buck, Barton, Swisher, Cust, Rowand, Chavez, Lopez, Ellis, Suzuki…Haren, Blanton, Gaudin, Loaiza, and DiNardo…Brown, Casilla, Embree, Duchscherer, and Street…A bench with Murphy and Denorfia…

OK, now I’m excited again!