Tag:Eric Chavez
Posted on: August 12, 2009 3:06 am
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Shaping the 2010 Roster for the Oakland Athletics


Players That Will Be Free Agents Following the Season:
Of the following players, I'd only attempt to bring back Adam Kennedy. Like Bobby Crosby, Kennedy can play every infield position. Unlike Bobby Crosby, Kennedy can actually hit the ball. Kennedy is having a career year for the A's, but I don't think he'll be in that high of demand on the open market. With second basemen such as Mark DeRosa , Felipe Lopez , Orlando Hudson , and Placido Polanco on the market, Kennedy is going to have a hard time getting a starting gig. If the A's could resign him to a one year deal for perhaps 1.5 Million with a club option (2.5 million) for 2011, that would be ideal. Looking at the other guys here, Bobby Crosby has an ego problem and needs to go. The A's would get a "type B" compensation pick if they offered arbitration to Justin Duchscherer, but I am inclined to believe Duchscherer would accept which would bring him back to Oakland for around 5.5-6 million on a one year deal. It's too big of a risk imo. As for Garciaparra, while he can still hit, he can no longer play the field. Let him retire.

The Following Players Will Be Arbitration Eligible Next Season:
*Devine is 1 day short of service time to be eligible. Since he didn't play this year and was hurt, I'm not sure what happens here. He was already a super 2 player. I'm wondering if he'll be a super super 2 or if the he'll enter arbitration. If he enters arbitration, he'll make about 1 million next season. If not, the A's will pay him league minimum.

Of the other players listed above, the only guy I would non-tender is Santiago Casilla. There is no point paying him a million dollars or more to not produce. If the A's still want to sign him afterwards for a lesser price, so be it, but he shouldn't be given the option to enter arbitration. Assuming the other players are kept, following the 60-80-60 scaling, Cust will make about 5 million, Wuertz about 2 million, while Davis, Devine, and Eveland will make around 1 million.

What does this mean?

The A's have a base salary next year, not including arbitration players, of 19.25 million. Adding in the five players above, that raises payroll to 29.25 million. If the A's were to have the same opening day payroll as they did this season, they'd have 33 million to spend on the open market. It's not likely they'll spend it, but it's worth noting. Also worth noting is that another 18 million (from the contracts of Chavez and Ellis) come off the books after 2010 giving the A's a ton of money to spend on their current team.

Now what does the Roster look like next year? Let's take a look at positions...


Catchers: Kurt Suzuki , Landon Powell , Josh Donaldson , Max Stassi


Suzuki has the job locked and has been one of the A's key producers. The only way he loses his job is if a freak injury happened. Landon Powell has been a solid backup all year long, both offensively and defensively. I often wish Bob Geren would play Powell and sit Suzuki more often as it would probably help the ballclub all together, but it will never happen. Donaldson is posting good numbers in AA and will be in AAA to start next season. I don't know what the long term plan is with him though as the A's catchers on their major league roster are already very young. As for Stassi, he's the future. Just drafted out of Yuba City high, Stassi has yet to be signed, but if he does, he could be the A's starting catcher in four to five years. The team has until August 17th to sign him.

First Basemen: Tommy Everidge , Daric Barton , Sean Doolittle , Chris Carter

Carter is obviously the future of the ballclub, but there is no point rushing him up to the major leagues. Carter is guaranteed to be the Texas League MVP this season and has a chance at the league Triple Crown. He will start next season in AAA. Everidge has been decent since taking over everyday for Jason Giambi, though nothing spectacular. He should get his opportunity to show what he has for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, the A's 2008 starting first basemen, Daric Barton, should also be in the mix for a job during spring training. It doesn't do any good sending Barton to AAA as the team probably doesn't want to take at bats away from Chris Carter. At the very least, Barton should be held as a reserve, the same way Nomar Garciaparra is being held now. Sean Doolittle has been hurt for most of this season, but should get an opportunity to prove himself as well next year. It's basically a logjam of mediocre players until Carter shows up.

Second Basemen: Mark Ellis , Eric Patterson , Adrian Cardenas , Jemile Weeks

Ellis' job is locked at the start of next season, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him moved halfway through the year next season. Eric Patterson was promised by Bob Geren that he was going to get every opportunity to succeed after Matt Holliday was traded, only for Patterson to be sent down after receiving minimal playing time. Adrian Cardenas tore the cover off of pitches in AA this year, but has struggled a lot since being promoted to Sacramento. Meanwhile, 2008 first round draft choice, Jemile Weeks, just keeps hitting the ball and could leapfrog Cardenas should he continue to struggle at the start of next season.


Shortstop: Cliff Pennington , Corey Wimberly , Grant Green

This is where the A's lack the most depth. Cliff Pennington is being given every opportunity to win the starting job for next year and has impressed so far in a short time frame. However, if his production falls off, I could see the A's turning to the free agent market. The A's let it be known that they might consider bringing back Orlando Cabrera . Other free agent options at the position include two former Athletics , Miguel Tejada and Marco Scutaro . The A's have Gregorio Petit at shortstop in Sacramento, but aren't keen on him playing everyday. Corey Wimberley is the shortstop in Midland, but he's made six error in 23 games at the position. Meanwhile, Grant Green, the A's first round selection this past year, has still yet to sign. Even if he did sign though, the soonest Green would reach the majors would be late 2011 or 2012.

Third Basemen: Eric Chavez , Brett Wallace, ?

I really don't want Brett Wallace to be "handed" the starting job at third base next year. Wallace is a good talent, but needs to work on his game both offensively and defensively. He's been just "okay" since arriving in Sacramento, but not great. I want a great hitter to emerge, not an average guy. If anyone can challenge Wallace for the job out of spring training it would probably be beneficial to the A's. The team cannot count on Eric Chavez being healthy, which is also why an Adam Kennedy resigning would make more sense. Let Wallace earn his way to the big leagues and supplant whoever we have instead of just handing him the spot like the team did with Daric Barton in 2008. Wallace was just drafted a year ago. There is no reason to rush him to the show either. This area needs to be addressed.

Left Fielders: Scott Hairston , Aaron Cunningham , Travis Buck

The A's aren't going to give up Sean Gallagher and Craig Italiano for a bench player. Hairston is here to be a permanent fixture for the A's and is under control through 2011. Cunningham will probably get some opportunities to play, but probably in right field rather than left. Travis Buck is in management's doghouse and I expect him to sit in AAA and rot, much the same way Brad Halsey did a few years back.




Center Fielders: Rajai Davis, Eric Patterson, Ryan Sweeney

I'm willing to give Rajai a chance as long as he keeps hitting and stealing bases. His play this year has been good so far. Eric Patterson is a player I can see the A's using in a backup role as he can play all outfield positions and second base. He'll probably never start though. Meanwhle Ryan Sweeney will probably start next season in right field again....for now.




Right Fielders: Ryan Sweeney, Aaron Cunningham, Travis Buck

Sweeney is a solid defender, but hits for far too little power to be a permanent fixture in right field. He belongs either in centerfield or on the bench which means the A's will soon have to choose between Sweeney and Rajai Davis. Cunningham has 20 home run pop, but has yet to hit for average at the major league level. If he finds his swing, Sweeney could be bumped elsewhere. Again Travis Buck is in the doghouse, so don't expect him to be called up anytime soon. There isn't any outfielder in AAA that I expect to be a significant factor next year, however, Midland has some solid producers in the outfield this year and they could make their way to Oakland by the second half of next season.

Designated Hitter: Jack Cust

There really isn't another position for him. He can't play first base and he's terrible in the outfield. Fortunately for him, no one else with terrible defense on the A's can mash so he has this job locked up. He has underperformed at all aspects of the game this season. Hopefully he'll bounce back next year though. The A's have him under control through 2011.





Starting Rotation: Dallas Braden , Brett Anderson , Trevor Cahill , Gio Gonzalez , Vin Mazzaro , James Simmons, Josh Outman , Clayton Mortensen



The A's will probably feature the same starting rotation next season as they did this year. Hopefully, their young pitchers will continue to develop and get better. Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez have really found their stuff as of late while Cahill and Mazzaro have struggled at times. Braden has been an achor at the front of the staff and as the veteran of the group, is under controll through 2013. James Simmons has had a rough year this season and will probably need to head back to the minors. Josh Outman, who performed well this season before undergoing Tommy John Surgery, may or may not be back next year. Clayton Mortensen needs more work as well, but could find himself in the mix later on.

Closer: Andrew Bailey , Joey Devine, Brad Ziegler

My assumption is that the closers role is Bailey's to lose. However, having him and Devine in the 8th and 9th inning makes for one scary combo.






2010 Top 10 Prospects

Note: My opinion only listed here
  1. 1B Chris Carter (pictured above)
  2. 3B Brett Wallace
  3. 2B Jemile Weeks
  4. OF Aaron Cunningham
  5. 2B Adrian Cardenas
  6. SS Grant Green
  7. RHP Michael Ynoa
  8. OF Grant Desme
  9. C Josh Donaldson
  10. OF Corey Brown
Best Hitter for Average: Adrian Cardenas
Best Power Hitter: Chris Carter
Best Strike Zone Discipline: Josh Donaldson
Fastest Baserunner: Corey Wimberly
Best Athlete: Rashun Dixon
Best Fastball: Henry Rodriguez
Best Curveball: Justin Marks
Best Slider: Henry Rodriguez
Best Changeup: Anthony Capra
Best Control: Mickey Storey
Best Defensive Catcher: Josh Donaldson
Best Defensive Infielder: Adrian Cardenas
Best Infield Arm: Dusty Coleman
Best Defensive Outfielder: Grant Desme
Best Outfield Arm: Shane Peterson

Posted on: July 14, 2009 3:41 am
 

A's Midseason Report Card

2009 Record: 37-49, 4th Place in American League West
Offensive Grade: F
Defensive Grade: D
Starting Pitching Grade: B-
Bullpen Pitching Grade: B-
Managerial Grade: F
Front Office Grade: F
Overall Midseason Grade: D+

The A's entered 2009 as a darkhorse candidate to win the division. Now, at the halfway point, the team is a darkhorse candidate for the worst record in the American league. 2009 marks the first time in the past decade that the A's have entered the All-Star break with a record below .500. Offensively, the team has been a complete mess. Once again, Eric Chavez has found himself sidelined for the entire season, while the new free agent acquisitions have disappointed thus far. Even Matt Holliday , who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Rockies , has gotten off to a slow start and there are now questions as to whether or not the A's will be able to get what they want in return in a midseason deal. Defensively, the A's have struggled, mainly because injuries to gold glove caliber players in Chavez and Mark Ellis . However, this can also be attributed to manager Bob Geren for starting Jack Cust in right field in many games thus far. The starting pitching has shown signs of promise. Trevor Cahill , Brett Anderson , and Vin Mazzaro , already christened "the new big three", have looked brilliant at times....and other times have shown their lack of experience. Dallas Braden has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season, but a lack of run support has failed to earn him recognition. So has Josh Outman , but he became the third A's player to fall victim to Tommy John Surgery this offseason. The bullpen was very good at the beginning of the year, but has started falter down the stretch, mainly from being used far too much. Michael Wuertz and Andrew Bailey have been the two bright spots though. As for manager Bob Geren, he looks lost. He refuses to let starters work deep into games, has failed to play the matchups correctly, and shows no confidence in his team. If he wasn't Billy Beane's best man at his second wedding, he might be the second manager to be fired this season. Speaking of Billy Beane , he has completely mishandled the farm system all year long and his trade for Scott Hairston is questionable. It's been a rough first half for the A's.

First Half MVP: Andrew Bailey - Closer

After trading Huston Street in the offseason and seeing Joey Devine fall victim to Tommy John Surgery, many that follow the A's were wondering who would step up and take over the role of the teams closer. Andrew Bailey answered that question. Since being selected as the last reliever to make the A's bullpen out of spring training, Bailey has forced everyone around baseball to take notice of him. He is the only rookie to be selected for the All-Star Game in St. Louis and is the A's lone representative. No one could dare say Bailey isn't deserving though. Bailey leads all American League Relievers in innings pitched and strikeouts and is 4th among American League Closers with a 1.92 era. Bailey features a mid 90's fastball, a curveball, and a cutter that does its best impression of Yankees future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera .

Apologies to: Adam Kennedy, Kurt Suzuki, Dallas Braden

First Half LVP: Jason Giambi - First Basemen

If the Jason Giambi that the A's had on their team mirrored anything close to the young guy in the picture to the right, the A's were going to get a bargain in the offseason. Unfortunately, what they ended up with was an over the hill, aging veteran, whose bat can't catch up to an inside fastball. Giambi has been terrible this season. In fact, this is his worst season of his career. Currently, Giambi is hitting below the Mendoza Line at .192 on the year. The A's were hoping Giambi would be an upgrade from Daric Barton , but instead they only stunted Barton's development for no apparent reason. In addition, his inability to play the field everyday is causing manager Bob Geren to play Jack Cust in the outfield, a position that Cust should never play. Because of his performance, the A's can't trade Giambi. Jason has a team option for next year in which I don't think is going to get picked up. Unless Giambi has a strong second half, Giambi might be playing his last season in baseball.

sighs of relief for: Jack Cust, Bobby Crosby, Orlando Cabrera

Biggest Surprise: Adam Kennedy - Infielder

At the beginning of the season, no one wanted Adam Kennedy . In fact, the St. Louis Cardinals waived Kennedy, eating the $4 million dollars he had owed on his contract. The Rays signed Kennedy to a minor league deal, but then quickly sent him to the A's for career minor leaguer Joe Dillon . Oh how those two teams GM's wish they could have do overs...Since arriving in Oakland, Kennedy has been an offensive force and is having his best season as pro baseball player. Kennedy is currently hitting .291 with 7 home runs and 31 RBI. Mind you, those numbers are since May, as the first month of the season Kennedy was in AAA. His home run total is his highest since 2004 when he hit 10 in a season. Kennedy is also proving to be a versatile player, playing whatever position he has been asked to receive playing time. He originally was called over to play second base in place of the injured Mark Ellis, but when Ellis returned Kennedy has made the transition to 3rd, 1st, and even some time in right field and has kept on hitting. Because Kennedy is a free agent at the end of the year though, he remains a good candidate to be traded. A team like the Cubs would be a perfect fit.

Apologies to: Josh Outman, Andrew Bailey, Dallas Braden

Player Most Likely to Be Traded: Matt Holliday - Left Field

While the A's have many players that could be dealt by the end of the month, none of them are more likely to leave than outfielder Matt Holliday. Holliday was a three time All-Star with the Colorado Rockies, but has regressed since joining the A's and leaving the hitter friendly confines of Coors Field. According to reports, the A's are said to be asking for two top of the line prospects in return for Holliday. The reasoning is because the A's would not only be trading away Holliday, but the two compensation picks that come with him if he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. The teams that make the most sense to acquire Holliday seem to be the Mets , Cardinals, and possibly the Red Sox . If teams won't give A's GM Billy Beane what he wants, Beane will simply hold on to Holliday and obtain the draft picks at the end of the season. However, some skeptics suggest that if Holliday doesn't get the price he wants in the offseason, he may accept arbitration from the A's which would net him a 1 year deal around 18 million. Personally, I don't think he would do it though as the last place Holliday would want to be to rebuild his value is Oakland. If it does happen though, the A's may have the same situation at this time next season.

Don't Get Too Comfortable: Adam Kennedy, Russ Springer, Bobby Crosby

First Prospect Likely To Be Called Up in 2nd Half: Tommy Everidge - Corner Infield

Tommy Everidge is flying under the radar. So much in fact, that I hadn't even heard of him until this year. He isn't even on Baseball America's list for the A's top 10 prospects. However, I can't wait for this kid to recieve his callup. Everidge features good power and pretty solid bat. Two seasons ago in Single-A, Everidge had 26 home runs and 94 RBI's while batting .266. Last year he had 22 home runs, 115 RBI, and improved his batting average to .279 at AA Midland. This season, combined between Double-A and Triple-A, Everidge is off to a torrid start hitting .309/.375/.508 with 14 home runs and an astonishing 73 RBI at the halfway point. A natural first basemen, the A's have been gradually converting Everidge to play 3rd, a position the organizational depth is weak at. His promotion to AAA, as well as the position switch, I believe forced the A's to trade away Jack Hannahan , who was demoted to AAA after a weak start to the season. The team probably felt they didn't want a player like Hannahan taking away at bats from Everidge. I expect to see Everidge to receive his first callup in August, though the team would likely have to trade Adam Kennedy to make room on the roster. If this kid has the ability to play 3rd base, the A's might have found their replacement for Eric Chavez.


Posted on: May 26, 2009 6:21 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2009 7:26 pm
 

Up and Adam

A's Kennedy Provides Offense With Spark

Having scored the fewest runs and having the lowest OPS of any American League team in 2008, Billy Beane's offseason goal for 2009 was simple ---The offense had to get better. So Beane started on his quest by trading for outfielder Matt Holliday, signing Jason Giambi to come back and play first base, and getting himself a top of the order middle infielder in Orlando Cabrera.

That alone should have been enough to get the A's offense out of the American League cellar for scoring runs, right? I mean, after all, Holliday was coming off of three All-Star seasons in Colorado, Giambi was coming off of a season in which he hit 32 homers and over 90 runs batted in for the Yankees, and Cabrera hit .281 last year, a batting average higher than all but one A's regular in 2008.

Overall, the team isn't doing a whole lot better with the moves, only moving up three spots in run production and still sitting dead last in OPS, but it is getting better. In the month of May alone, the A's have already hit 23 home runs and considering they hit 9 all of April, it's a definite sign that the offense is going the right way.

And despite the news that Eric Chavez's career may be a sneeze away from retiring and that Mark Ellis is expected to miss a lot of time this season, the team continues to have confidence in its offensive abilities. The acquisition of Adam Kennedy from Tampa Bay on May 8th has paid huge dividends for the team. Through 15 games, Kennedy is off to a torrid start hitting .441 with 2 home runs, 13 RBI's, 6 doubles, and 3 steals to start off his career as an Athletic.

Meanwhile, teams such as the Cardinals and Rays have to wonder whether or not they made the right decision letting him walk.

In November of 2006, the Cardinals signed Kennedy to a 3 year/10 million dollar contract to play for them. However, after Kennedy became frustrated with his lack of playing time a season ago, the Cardinals released him in February of this year, eating the $4 million dollars that Kennedy had remaining on his contract. A week later, Kennedy signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and was invited to camp, but did not make the roster. At AAA Durham, Kennedy was .280/.366/.439 in 23 games and was dealt to the A's for a player to be named later (infielder Joe Dillon) and immediately became the A's starting second basemen.

For Kennedy, he knew his opportunity would come this year with some team.

"I'm just trying to fit in, you know?" said Kennedy. "I knew I'd be back [in the majors]. I was just down there grinding away. It's not fun, but you can't not stay ready."

Truer words couldn't have been spoken. That is the kind of leadership the A's were expecting to come from Holliday and Giambi.

"What a spark plug he's been," said A's 3rd basemen Jack Hannahan. "He's kind of a lead-by-example-type guy, but at the same time, he'll talk to you about where to play guys. He's a good addition to the team."

Kennedy is expected to remain the A's starting second basemen until Mark Ellis comes back from the disabled list on June 28th. At that point, manager Bob Geren has hinted at the possibility of moving Kennedy to third base, in place of the injured Eric Chavez.

The A's are currently 17-25 and set to play divisional series this week against the Seattle Mariners and the division leading Texas Rangers.



***Note:
Have a question about the A's? Send me a PM with your question and it could be featured in my latest A's blog!!!




Posted on: February 8, 2009 3:09 am
 

2009 AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

1. Eric Chavez - 3B - Oakland Athletics

Eric Chavez

Eric Chavez missed most of last season when he reaggravated a shoulder injury he had surgery on the previous offseason. Chavez has only played in a total of 23 games since July 27th, 2007 and has had three different surgeries since. However, all signs have been positive for Chavez in his recovery so far and the A's fully expect him to be in their starting third basemen on opening day. Chavez remains the longest tenured player on the A's. The six-time gold glove winner remains a great candidate to receive the comeback player of the year award. If he can return back to form, Chavez is capable of hitting 30 homeruns and driving in well over 100. He should also have plenty of RBI chances while batting behind Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi in the lineup.

2. Travis Hafner - DH - Cleveland Indians

What has happened to "Pronk" the past couple of seasons? From 2004-2006, Travis Hafner was one of the games most feared hitters hitting over .300, driving in over 100 people, and showing 30-40 home run pop. However, Hafner started to decline in 2007 when his power numbers cut in half from the previous season and his average dipped 40 points. Then in 2008, Hafner hit a lousy .197 in 200 at bats before getting shoulder surgery. However, Dr. James Andrews found no structural damage on his shoulder while performing surgery which leaves us guessing what the real problem was with Hafner. Regardless, he has been a force on his team in the past and if he can return to form, he should be in the running for this award and the Indians in the running for the postseason.

3. Jason Varitek - C - Boston Red Sox

Unlike most Comeback Player of the Year Candidates, Jason Varitek isn't coming off of any sort of injury. The captain of the Red Sox had two bad seasons in the past three years and after Varitek hit a lousy .220 a year ago, there are questions as to whether or not he can remain an effective major league ballplayer. Last season Varitek reached career lows in batting average and slugging percentage, while his OBP was the worst it has been since his rookie season in 1998. Varitek may need to make a permanent switch to batting right handed. The switch hitter hit .284 off of left handed pitching last season, but just .201 off of right handers. While Varitek remains in Bostons lineup, he remains a good candidate for the award if he can just start hitting again.

4. Jorge Posada - C - New York Yankees

Jorge Posada is the third player in this post that had to have shoulder surgery. His ability to swing the bat hasn't declined a bit and he's only two seasons removed from one where he had an OPS+ of 154 and finished 6th in MVP voting. Posada actually has a pretty good shot at winning this award. The thing that concerns me though is his defense. He was only able to throw out 17% of baserunners a year ago and two seasons ago it was just 23%. His defensive skills are declining meaning that he would be best utilized as a designated hitter, but the Yankees already have Hideki Matsui occupying that spot. Even if he stays at catcher this season and moves their next season, that would only mean that the Yankees still have a defensive liability in Jeter at shortstop.

5. Brad Penny - SP - Boston Red Sox

Meet shoulder victim number four in this post. Brad Penny has been one of the Dodgers best pitchers over the last four seasons, but struggled mightily last year as he suffered a shoulder injury. Penny is capable of being an ace in a rotation, and given the right run support, he could win a lot of games as a member of the Sox. However, he is somewhat prone to injury and nobody really knows how he is going to react this season following his struggles of a year ago. If he is anything like the player he was two seasons ago that netted him 3rd in National League Cy Young voting, the Red Sox might have found themselves a diamond in the rough this offseason.

 

Honorable Mentions:

LHP Dontrelle Willis (Detroit Tigers)
RHP Bartolo Colon (Chicago White Sox)
RHP Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers)
RHP John Smoltz (Boston Red Sox)
OF Gary Sheffield (Detroit Tigers)
OF Andruw Jones (Texas Rangers)
3B Josh Fields (Chicago White Sox)

Posted on: July 20, 2008 12:04 am
Edited on: July 22, 2008 5:46 pm
 

Billy Beane is in a World of His Own

For A's GM Billy Beane, Greatness is All That Matters



With the Oakland Athletics in contention for a playoff spot this year, Billy Beane shocked all of us a week ago when he decided to trade Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to the Chicago Cubs. So a week later, it came as no surprise when A's fans learned that Beane had made yet another trade, sending pitcher Joe Blanton to the Philadelphia Phillies for more prospects.

"Is he crazy?"

At least, that is the main question that is being floated around the baseball community right now. And the answer to it--well--is rather complicated. In most cases, making a trade like the two deals that Beane made last week could mean the end of your job if you were the GM of any other team. In fact, we've seen it before with Beane's protegé Paul DePodesta when Depodesta took over as the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.


"I want to be great for a long time. Not have a nice, little month and make it interesting. If we have assets, ultimately, we have to turn them into more assets. This is the way we have to run the business. For us, as a small-market team, the turnover is a lot greater."
- A's GM Billy Beane



DePodesta traded Paul LoDuca, Juan Encarnacion and Guillermo Mota to the Florida Marlins for Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi. And while the move didn't benefit the Dodgers immediately that season, it has paid off huge dividends for the team in the years that followed. Unfortunately for DePodesta, he was greatly criticized for the move and was run out of town by the Los Angeles media. That's just how it works. New Dodger GM Ned Colletti has made terrible signings like Andruw Jones, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Schmidt, Juan Pierre, and Randy Wolf, yet because Colletti didn't trade away the core of the team, he hasn't faced nearly the same amount of criticism that DePodesta did while being in the same city.

However, in a city like Oakland, where Billy Beane has made it to the postseason in five of the past eight seasons, all anyone can ever do is trust his reputation. As most Oakland fans would say.....

"In Billy We Trust!"

Despite losing all-star pitchers such as Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang, Dan Haren, Jason Isringhausen and Keith Foulke and losing solid position players like Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, Ramon Hernandez, Ray Durham, Carlos Pena, Jose Guillen, Milton Bradley, and Nick Swisher the A's still compete. Even as a small market team Billy Beane defies the odds. Since 2000, only the Yankees in the American League and the Cardinals in the National League, have made it to the playoffs more than Beane's Oakland A's teams.

"I want to be great for a long time. Not have a nice, little month and make it interesting. If we have assets, ultimately, we have to turn them into more assets. This is the way we have to run the business. For us, as a small-market team, the turnover is a lot greater," Beane said a few days ago after pulling the trigger on the Joe Blanton deal.

And such is the way Billy Beane has been able to keep the A's contenders. We saw this principle applied last offseason when Beane traded All-Star pitcher Dan Haren to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Greg Smith, Dana Eveland, Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, and two other minor leaguers. By trading away one player, Haren, Beane managed to find two quality pitchers to fill his rotation, a future superstar outfielder in Carlos Gonzalez, and some other solid minor leaguers to give the team some organizational depth.

The philosophy has kept the A's winning ballgames year in and year out, but it has grown tiresome to many of the fans who come to the ballpark because of the team has no player loyalty whatsoever. Many casual A's fans can't name a single player on their team anymore. Others, can only name a few stars like Huston Street, Bobby Crosby, and Eric Chavez. But with Chavez sidelined for most of the year, and Street and Crosby likely to be traded before the July 31st trade deadline, the A's attendance will surely drop off even lower than it already is. With the A's set to move to Fremont in 2011, no one will care about this team anymore. At least, not in the east bay area.

Billy Beane's trades of Rich Harden and Joe Blanton were meant to stock up the farm system with great prospects for the years to come. They weren't meant to keep the A's in the playoff race this season. As Beane has been quoted saying in the past, "You're not a contender unless you're in first."

While most teams would be looking to add players to make a run at the playoffs if they were in the A's position, Billy Beane decided that most likely outcome for the roster that he has now, would result in the team missing the playoffs. So instead having faith in the club he has now, Beane is constantly looking to the future.

As Beane said earlier, he wants his team to be great. Not just good for a short period of time. Beane is trying to make the A's what they were at the turn of the century. A team filled with superstars like Giambi, Chavez, Tejada, Dye, Hudson, Mulder and Zito. He wants his team to be like the team in 2001 that won 102 ballgames or the team in 2002 that won 104. You don't see that anymore in baseball. Now that the A's will have money with a new ballpark, Beane will be able to keep the future superstars around for a long time. And while everyone in Oakland is mad that Beane is looking to the future when the present team is exceeding expectations, Beane is taking the right step for the long term success of the ballclub.

Looking back at the trades, at least the Oakland fans can be happy with what they got back in return. While Rich Harden can be the best pitcher in baseball, his injury history has prevented him from doing that yet. The A's only had him locked up for two more seasons and would have been paying him a decent amount of money to pitch next season. If he would have had one more injury, the A's wouldn't have gotten anything in return and been stuck eating his contract.

Sean Gallagher is solid right hander that, like most Cubs pitching prospects, hasn't been handled right in their farm system. He has number two pitcher upside and can rack up a decent amount of strikeouts. Eric Patterson has been very good in the minors and with everyday playing time, he should develop nicely at second base for the team. Matt Murton is another underrated outfielder. Murton has a career .290 batting average, but the biggest knock on him was his lack of power. He'll make a solid 4th outfielder for the A's in years to come. As for Josh Donaldson, the former second round pick has struggled in the minors so far, but the A's needed organizational depth at catcher after Jeremy Brown retired and Landon Powell's constant injury problems.

The Joe Blanton deal might actually help the A's in the short run as Blanton was having a terrible season so far. The A's have to be happy with their return after trading a guy that is a 12 game loser and has era of around five. All that while playing one of baseball's best pitchers parks. However, Blanton is an innings eater that should help the Phillies bullpen and is a sure upgrade over Adam Eaton.

The A's have chosen to start Dallas Braden in Blanton's spot for the short term, but if Braden struggles, the A's might consider calling up top pitching prospect Gio Gonzalez to fill the void. Gonzalez has been lights out this past month for AAA Sacramento.

The prospects the A's got back from the Phillies are pretty solid too. Adrian Cardenas is one of the best second base prospects in the game and pretty much guarantees that Mark Ellis won't be with the team next season as the A's also signed first round pick Jemile Weeks. Left hander Josh Outman is a great pitching prospect and the A's will likely turn him back into a starter, where he has had the most success at in the minors. As for Matthew Spencer, he probably has no chance of making the A's roster anytime soon. The A's are overloaded at the outfield position in their minor league system and their are plenty of internal options that would be ahead of him on the depth chart. It would take Spencer a lot of commitment to move up the depth charts.

While some A's fans can be mad at Billy Beane for not making a run at the postseason this year, he is the reason the A's stood a chance this year in the first place. Billy Beane might be the most hated person in Oakland right now. He is in a world of his own right now. However, if Beane's moves pay off in the near future, he will be further cementing his legacy as the greatest GM in the game.

"In Billy We Trust!"

That's all Oakland fans can do.
Posted on: March 11, 2008 2:56 am
Edited on: March 11, 2008 6:02 pm
 

2008 Oakland A's Baseball

You've got questions? I've got the answers. Everything you need to know about the upcoming season for the Oakland Athletics is right here.


Q: Will Mike Sweeney make the big league roster?

It certainly looks like it. After several injury plagued seasons with the Kansas City Royals, Sweeney is off to a great start this spring for the Athletics batting .400. initially, it was thought that Sweeney was brought in to compete with Dan Johnson for a backup role, but because of his strong performance, it is likely that Sweeney will open the year as the A's DH with Jack Cust shifting to the outfield. Meanwhile, Johnson is struggling mightily at the plate and could be traded by opening day.



Q: Do you expect any spring training surprises?

With both Chris Denorfia and Ryan Sweeney struggling this spring and Emil Brown not a viable option in center, the A's could turn to Carlos Gonzalez in centerfield. Gonzalez was the centerpiece of the deal that sent Dan Haren to Arizona and has all the raw talent to develop into a superstar. It was expected that Gonzalez would play at least the first half of the season at AAA Sacramento and with the A:s not competing this season, there is no real reason to put him in the lineup right away (as their was last season with Travis Buck).


Q: Who will be the next Marco Scutaro, of the timely hits and awesome chant?

It remains to be seen. Scutaro was the captain of clutch for the A's, but with him reaching arbitration and the A's having both Donnie Murphy and Jack Hannahan they could turn to, they decided to cash in on the super-sub. As far as the chants go, it remains to be seen. There are so many new faces in Oakland this season, so the fans will be forced to come up with some fresh material. I'm gonna try to make it to the opening series against the Red Sox, so maybe I'll think of something by then.



Q: What will the lineup look like?

That's a good question. I'm not sure what Bob Geren is thinking of doing, but I imagine it will look something like this....
  1. RF Travis Buck
  2. 2B Mark Ellis
  3. 1B Daric Barton
  4. DH Mike Sweeney
  5. LF Jack Cust
  6. 3B Eric Chavez
  7. SS Bobby Crosby
  8. C Kurt Suzuki
  9. CF Carlos Gonzalez/Chris Denorfia
With Daric Barton set to take over first base and the emergence of Jack Cust and Mike Sweeney in the lineup, a lot of pressure will be taken off Eric Chavez this season. Chavez is coming off of three offseason surgeries and still isn't fully recovered.

Q: Will Travis Buck keep his hair long, or will he cut it NYY style?
It's a good thing we talk about what is important. Buck had his hair long for the first half of 2007 and then cut it towards the 2nd half. Report out of spring training are that Buck hasn't cut his hair yet and is sporting the long haired look he had at the beginning of last season (see picture to the left). After the fans outcry, I think the hair will stay for good.




Q: Will Rich Harden stay healthy through Spring Training? Through April? Through the All-Star Break? Through the end of the year?


It's really hard to determine the health of a player, especially one that has had constant injury problems the past few seasons like Harden. However, reports out of spring training are encouraging. In fact, the A's have worked with Harden to tweak his delivery a bit this season in an effort to keep him more healthy. While I'm not really going to predict the health of Rich Harden and how long he lasts, it is obvious that the A's are a much better team when he takes the mound for them.



Q: Will Blanton step up to the challenge of being promoted in the rotation?


I think he will. "Big Country" will only be 27 next season and will begin to enter his prime. Joe is a solid pitcher that eats a lot of innings and will give opposing teams a run for their money. He isn't the prototypical ace, but he's good enough to get the job done for the A's. Aside from his first outing of the spring, in which Blanton was mainly throwing fastballs, he has looked solid and if you couple him with a healthy Rich Harden, the A's could surprise a few people this season.



Q: Will we miss Duchscherer’s presence in the bullpen more than we enjoy his performance as a starter?


Duchscherer has arguably been one of the A's best pitchers over the past couple of seasons and there is no reason to assume that he'll fail as a starter. He came up through the minor league as a starter, but was blocked from a job by Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Cory Lidle and Ted Lilly and was forced to change to a reliever to get his shot. The A's shouldn't miss him too much in the pen as Santiago Casilla and Keith Foulke will likely be called up to take his place. In addition, Joey Devine, who the A's added in the Mark Kotsay deal, could make a significant contribution as well.


Q: Are we really looking at Lenny DiNardo in the starting rotation?

It looks like it. However, I think DiNardo's stay in the rotation may be short-lived. Gio Gonzalez, the main prospect acquired in the Nick Swisher deal has looked solid so far this spring. Couple that with his minor league statistics the past couple of seasons and it makes you wonder why he is a long shot to be considered for the rotation. Last season at AA-Birmingham, Gonzalez was 9-7 with a 3.18 era and recorded 185 strikeouts in just 150 innings pitched. Look for him around mid-season.

Q: Will Foulke be a welcome addition to the A’s ‘pen?


Definitely! Foulke was solid when he was the closer here in Oakland and fans still remember that. The Indians thought Foulke was healthy enough to be their closer last season, so after a year of rest, he should be a solid middle reliever for the A's. If he's not, big deal. The A's are only paying him a base salary of $700,000.


Q: Can Bobby Crosby emerge as a serviceable shortstop now that (presumably) his injuries are behind him?

I'm not so sure. There were high expectations for Crosby when he first came out and I think those expectations, more than his numbers, led him to getting the rookie of the year award back in 2004. I always gave Crosby slack as he could never live up to the guy he replaced (Tejada), but it's about time he starts to perform. He can start by raising his abysmal batting average. If he doesn't, Oakland could be looking for a replacement in 2009.



Q: Is Chavez finally healthy, and if finally healthy, finally good?


No. Chavez is still recovering from his 3 offseason surgeries. He suffered a setback earlier this month and is just about a lock to miss the opener in Japan. Chavez is highly unlikely to ever return to the player he once was from 2001-2004, but he's still an above average third basemen and the top fielding third basemen in the league.




Q: Will we see Barton at first base?


Yes. The 22 year old Barton was already named the A's opening day starter before spring training even began. The A's were impressed with his callup last September and felt that he deserved to be handed the job without competition. Barton, who was traded to the A's along with Dan Haren for Mark Mulder, has been the A's best prospect in their farm system for a while now and has a great eye and is a solid contact hitter. However, his power number are a bit low for a first basemen (Barton was a converted catcher).

Q: In April, can Suzuki quadruple the number of homeruns that Jason Kendall hit in his entire Athletics’ career?

Considering the fact that Kendall only had 3 his entire Athletics's career, I don't think he'll do it in April, but maybe throughout the course of the year. Suzuki hit 7 home runs in just 213 at bats last year for the team which is already more than Jason. While I think that number may be a bit high (in terms of frequency), I think you can expect anywhere from 12-15 homers from Suzuki on the year.




Q: Any Bold Predictions?

Sure....why not.

- A's final record will be 76-86, 3rd place in the AL West
- Jack Cust will hit .265/.410/.500 with 34 home runs and 105 RBI
- Both Rich Harden and Joe Blanton win 15 games this season
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com