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A Bigger Issue?

For the past several seasons, AN, the A's and everyone around the team has focused very clearly on the injury issues. Rightfully so. The injuries have derailed a team that could've had potential to be very good for a while.

Everyone has said that the A's needed to revamp their medical staff and procedures to try and stop the issues from repeating year in and year out. And they were right. Beane did that, but he also made the drastic move of essentially getting all new players (if the Kotsay deal is finalized sometime today as expected I also expect Huston Street to be dealt soon after).

I would argue that at least as important as the injury problems to the decision to completely rebuild and possibly more important was the A's lack of good minor league prospects. The A's drafting process and the proposal to try and make it better came to prominence in Moneyball, but the A's have not had great drafts at all. They've found the occasional gem that has been able to make a quick leap to the pros and have an impact. Nick Swisher, Huston Street and Joe Blanton are a few that come to mind. Yet there have been way too many Cliff Pennington's and Richie Robnett's. Guys who were high draft picks given a lot of money who haven't come close to panning out.

I would say that has to be an area of grave concern to Billy Beane as he's trading away the few successful players that the A's have drafted to try and restock a barren system. That should be an area that the Oakland A's focus on extensively. Yes, they've had Ethier and used him to get Milton Bradley and Travis Buck is turning into a great pick as well. I'm not saying that the A's scouting and drafting department hasn't done a good job. That's not it at all. They just need to be better than the other teams out there in order for the A's to remain a viable and competitive franchise. The A's rely on getting a player like Bobby Crosby to replace a Tejada when he leaves for a greener wallet (Crosby is another one who hasn't worked out as expected thus far). And if it doesn't work out, you wind up with a team that can't compete with Yankees West down here in Anaheim.

So while Beane is in the process of reviewing nearly everything organizationally, he might as well look at their drafting and evaluation process. The A's must be better than the other teams out there and yet the Angels are constantly restocking their system nicely. It's a trend that absolutely must change. Having a higher pick in the 08 draft should help, but if the A's don't want to be in a similar situation again in three or four years, then their drafting must consistently be excellent. Now before everyone jumps on me saying that the A's have Cahill and have drafted and developed a lot of the talent they're now dealing away, I'm not arguing that. I'm just saying that in order for the A's to continue to be excellent down the road, the A's should dedicate a ton of resources to making sure their drafting department is one of the best in baseball. For a small market, it is what will ultimately mean success. Or failure.