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"Gettin' Zoney With It"

Even I was starting to have trouble keeping track of my favorite team’s current and future roster, so I pulled a “Zonis” and created a long roster list so I could see what the heart of the 2008-10 A’s might actually look like. Here it is, with the players who don’t figure to start 2008 with Oakland in parentheses and their 2008 Opening Day age included:

1B Daric Barton (Chris Carter, 21)
2B Mark Ellis
SS Bobby Crosby
3B Eric Chavez / Jack Hannahan
OF Travis Buck (Ryan Sweeney, 23)
OF Chris Denorfia (Aaron Cunningham, 21)
OF Mark Kotsay (Carlos Gonzalez, 22)
C Kurt Suzuki
DH Jack Cust

SP/DL Rich Harden
SP Joe Blanton
SP Chad Gaudin
SP Justin Duchscherer
SP Dana Eveland
SP Dan Meyer
(P Greg Smith, 24)
(P Andrew Bailey, 23)
(P Gio Gonzalez, 22)
(P Fautino De Los Santos, 22)
(P James Simmons, 21)
(P Trevor Cahill, 20)
(P Brett Anderson, 19)

RP Huston Street
RP Andrew Brown
RP Alan Embree
RP Jerry Blevins
RP Santiago Casilla
RP Kiko Calero
(RP Henry Rodriguez)

What stands out, of course, is that while the 2008 team should be proud if they just finish at .500, the young pitching is simply stacked. We’ll see the ones who have failed in big league cups of coffee first (Meyer, Eveland), with one of the lowest-ceiling guys next (Smith), and then it just gets better and better, with six – count ‘em six – more really young and really promising prospects in Bailey, Gonzalez, De Los Santos, Simmons, Cahill, and Anderson.

I think Beane is gunning to be back in true contention in 2009. Why? Because I think Buck and Barton are truly special, because Denorfia and Suzuki could prove to be truly solid come 2009, because Carlos Gonzalez has a real chance to be another impact hitter by 2009, because as the best and readiest of the young pitchers emerge the rotation will be back to superior form come 2009 – and last but certainly not least, because the A’s are now deep enough in legitimate young starters that if Beane deems it necessary to trade for a new SS (or new any position), he actually has the trade chips to go out and do it. Not to mention the payroll flexibility to explore a 2009 free agent market that figures to be superior to this Winter’s crop.

The Angels had better enjoy 2008, because when the A’s rebuild they rebuild differently than most teams: Before you even realize they’re rebuilding, they’ve already gotten the permits and laid the foundation, and are on to looking at what color they want for the trim.