Tag:Joey Devine
Posted on: August 12, 2009 3:06 am
 

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: August 12, 2009 3:06 am
 

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: May 11, 2009 2:08 am
Edited on: May 11, 2009 2:53 am
 

Sigh of Relief

A's Rookie Leads Majors Best Bullpen

Co-closer Joey Devine is out for year needing Tommy John surgery. The teams other Co-closer has been battling the flu for the past week and a half and their main set-up man has found himself on the 15 day disabled list. Yet despite the setbacks the Oakland A's have faced in regards to their bullpen, it has been the best in the majors.

A good bullpen is invaluable, especially for a team such as Oakland, which features three rookie pitchers in its starting rotation. The A's bullpen averages four innings per game, most in the majors, but features a league leading 2.73 bullpen era, 1.15 WHIP and batters are hitting just .207 off of Oakland relievers. All three of those statistics are best in the league.

The anchor of this bullpen so far has been rookie Andrew Bailey.

Bailey has overcome a lot to get to where he is today with the A's. After a promising sophomore year at Wagner, in which Bailey recorded 84 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched, he started to gain recognition as a top tier prospect by major league scouts. However, everything took a turn for the worse during Bailey's junior season as he suffered an elbow injury and was required to get Tommy John Surgery. The injury made it so Bailey only appeared in seven games during the season and his stock dropped in the 2005 draft. He was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 16th round, but chose to continue his career at Wagner instead of going pro. He couldn't have made a better decision.

After spending 10 months of rehab, Bailey posted his best year yet at the college ranks posting a 2.03 era and striking out 53 batters in 41 innings pitched. Bailey finished college as Wagner's career strikeout leader and was selected by the Oakland A's in the 6th round of the 2006 draft. While Bailey spent his first two seasons in the A's minor league system as a starter, it wasn't until the middle of the 2008 season at AA Midland that that the A's started viewing Bailey as a reliever and developing him in that role.

Entering camp at the beginning of this season, Bailey wasn't guaranteed a roster spot on the A's. In fact, many thought Bailey didn't stand a chance at making the opening day roster considering Bailey hadn't pitched much above AA. However, with Brad Ziegler playing in the World Baseball Classic and Joey Devine battling injury, Bailey got his opportunity to pitch in many spring games and didn't disappoint. He featured a 0.66 era in 13.2 innings. The performance was too good for the A's to ignore and with Joey Devine starting the season on the disabled list, Bailey was named the last Oakland reliever on the 25-man roster.

Bailey's "stuff" is downright scary. He features a fastball that reaches up to 98 mph, a curveball, and a cutter that does its best impression of Mariano Rivera. So far this year, Bailey stands at 3-0, with a 1.27 era in 21 and a third innings pitched this season. He has 24 strikeouts, but even more remarkabale is that Bailey has only given up 6 hits all season.

"He continues to be impressive. He throws strikes and has multiple pitches," said A's manager Bob Geren when asked about Bailey. "I feel comfortable bringing him in any time, which is a big boost."

Bailey recorded his first career save last friday in a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays, doing it old fashioned style with two innings of shutout baseball. He wasn't originally planned to work the two innings, but Bailey was so effective in the 8th, the choice as to whether or not to send him out again for the 9th was a no brainer. Bailey faced the minimum number of batters, allowing no hits, striking out two, and only threw 20 pitches.

Not too bad. The closers role may be where Bailey's future lies. Brad Ziegler doesn't project as a long term closer and most expected him to lose the role to Joey Devine as the season progressed. If Bailey keeps performing like he has been, he may once again force Bob Geren's hand and require the A's to make the switch.

Regardless of where he ends up, he has helped shape the A's bullpen into the best in the majors. While the A's have gotten off to a slow start in 2009, they still show signs of improving and as their young stars continue to develop, this teams future looks bright.


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
 
 
 
 
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