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What Has Happened To Building Our Offense?

In case you missed it in Dan's fabulous recap last night, Huston Street has unloaded on Bob Geren. In a text to Susan Slusser (read the full article by John Shea, it's a good one):

"Bob was never good at communication, and I don't want to speak for anybody else, but it was a sentiment reflected in many conversations during the two years I spent in Oakland, and even recently when talking to guys after I left. For me personally, he was my least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports from age 6 to 27. I am very thankful to be in a place where I can trust my manager."

From the same article, remember Mike Sweeney?

On that same 2008 trip, according to multiple sources, Mike Sweeney was furious with Geren for not allowing him to play more in a series in Kansas City. Sweeney thought it would be his final chance to play in K.C., where he spent most of his career. On a team flight, according to the sources, Sweeney had a blowup with Geren and was released shortly thereafter.

So not to pile on the A's this week, but as long as we're talking about it, let's shift the focus slightly and talk about the real problem with the A's offense, and why this problem has continued for the better part of five years.

Not to simplify what is no doubt a multi-faceted issue, but I'd venture to say that when you are a small-market team, you can't afford to buy a team; you have to build one from within. A quick glance at the A's offensive prospects should cause us to worry. Not only are there a limited number of highly-touted prospects in the system, but the A's simply don't have any offensive stars on their current team, and certainly none from their own system. In fact, the last ten years' worth of offensive draft picks are all but unrecognizable.

Looking at the A's current roster reveals exactly three offensive players that were drafted by the A's, namely Kurt Suzuki, Landon Powell, and Cliff Pennington. And if you think any of those are a true solution to our offensive woes, I don't know what to tell you. "League-average" or "solid" at best, "lacking utterly and completely in power numbers" at worst, it's pretty safe to say that none of the three will emerge as a true A's star.

Homegrown talent is what built the early 2000's A's teams. Drafting a score of offensive talent like Ramon Hernandez, Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, and Eric Chavez, the A's put together a lineup that supported their stellar starting pitching. As we should have learned from Moneyball, the A's can't outbid anyone to build a team; they have to create a team from scratch. Not to mention (adding insult to injury), it turns out that it doesn't matter how much money the A's offer top-tier free agents; none will sign with or stay here in Oakland anyway. There have been entire posts written about why, but whether you choose to blame the stadium, the foul territory, the management, the lack of fans in the seats or the weird smell in the clubhouse,the A's can't buy nice things. The A's haven't signed a top-tier free agent in years.

That leaves the A's no choice but to build a winning offense, and we all know how well that has worked out. Our last homegrown offensive stars would probably be Nick Swisher (Yankees) and Andre Ethier (Dodgers). Obviously neither one is with the A's anymore, but neither is anyone else. The A's haven't produced a good hitter--much less a great one--in almost ten years.

Need proof? Here is a chart of the last ten years of A's drafts, which includes all of the position players taken in the first ten rounds. You'll notice that some lists are short; the A's have taken a considerable amount of pitching over the years, perhaps to the detriment of building their offense. Of course, it's also too early to make any judgments on players from the 2008 and 2009 draft, and there might very well be some help on the way. I'm fully aware that most draft picks don't work out, but when you have the disadvantages that the A's do, what you need most is your own farm system.

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Freddie Bynum (SS) Robert Crosby (SS) Jeremy Brown ( C ) Omar Quintanilla (SS) Landon Powell ( C )
Daylan Holt (OF) Jarrett Stotts (SS/2B) John Mccurdy (SS) Brian Snyder (3B) Daniel Putman (CF)
Beau Craig ( C ) Marcus McBeth (OF) Nicholas Swisher (1B) Andre Ethier (CF) Kurt Suzuki ( C )
Marshall Mcdougall (3B) Austin Nagle (RF) Mark Teahen (3B) Dustin Majewski (CF) Kevin Melillo (2B)
Daniel Johnson (1B) Stephen Stanley (OF) Edward Kim (1B) Myron Leslie (3B)
Clinton Myers (C/1B) John Baker ( C ) Luke Appert (2B) Chad Boyd (OF)
Mark Kiger (SS) David Castillo ( C ) Thomas Everidge (1B)
Brian Stavisky (CF)
Brant Colamarino (1B)
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Clifton Pennington (SS) Matthew Sulentic (OF) Sean Doolittle (1B) Jamile Weeks (2B) Grant Green (SS)
Travis Buck (RF) Jermaine Mitchell (CF) Corey Brown (OF) Preston Paramore ( C ) Max Stassi ( C )
Justin Sellers (SS) Angel Sierra (OF) Gregory Desme (RF) Jason Christian (SS) Stephen Parker (3B)
Daniel Hamblin (1B) Joshua Horton (SS) Tyreace House (OF) Ryan Ortiz ( C )
Christian Vitters (SS) Daniel Hamblin (1B) Jeremy Barfield (OF) Myrio Richard (CF)
Mitchell LeVier ( C )
Rashun Dixon (OF)

In addition to drafting pitching instead of offense, it can probably also be argued that the A's just haven't been terrible enough to have received the draft picks of a team like the Royals, or the Rays. Have the A's been so focused on pitching that they have lost sight of offensive talent in the process? Are the A's scouts missing talent? Has the A's perpetual .500 record hurt them overall in the draft? Is there a way to build up the system without sacrificing their current pitching talent? Why can't we have nice things?

Current Series

4 game series vs Angels @ Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Mon 05/23 WP: Scott Downs (2 - 1)
SV: Jordan Walden
LP: Brian Fuentes (1 - 7)
1 - 4 loss
Tue 05/24 WP: Guillermo Moscoso (1 - 0)
LP: Dan Haren (4 - 3)
6 - 1 win

Oakland Athletics
@ Los Angeles Angels

Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 7:05 PM PDT
Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Trevor Cahill vs Ervin Santana

Clear. Winds blowing out to left field at 5-15 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 70.

Complete Coverage >

Thu 05/26 12:35 PM PDT