Tag:Travis Buck
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 1:58 am
Edited on: August 12, 2009 1:59 am

A's Notepad: August 11th

Notes for the day:

Rajai Davis - OF - Oakland Athletics (MLB)

Rajai Davis hit the 10,000th double in Oakland A's History.

Davis drove a 2-2 pitch by David Hernandez into left center field and got the double easily. Davis has really emerged for the A's recently. He is batting .357 since June 17th. The double tonight gave Davis a 7 game hitting streak. Davis also has 6 stolen bases in his last 9 games.

Jay Marshall - RP - Oakland Athletics (MLB)

Jay Marshall worked a perfect 8th inning on Tuesday night, his first appearance since 2007

Marshall retired Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis in order. The sidewinding lefty was a rule-5 draft selection from the Chicago White Sox in 2007. Despite struggling for the entire 2007 season on the major league roster, the A's put Marshall back in the minors for 2008 and much of 2009 to work on his stuff. It was there that Marshall emerged posting a 3.20 era in 50 games for AAA Sacramento.

Dana Eveland - SP - Sacramento Rivercats (Triple-A)

Dana Eveland was tagged for 9 runs in five innings at Triple A Sacramento

It was the second consecutive poor outing for Eveland as Eveland gave up 9 runs in 8 innings in his last start against Oklahoma (Rangers AAA team). 2009 has been a downward spiral for Eveland, who started in 29 games for the Athletics last season. Despite being 8-4 for the Rivercats, Eveland has lost all command of his pitches and will need to work on that if he hopes to return to the big leagues any time soon.

Travis Buck - OF - Sacramento Rivercats (Triple-A)

Travis Buck was 3-4 with 3 RBI for the Rivercats on Tuesday night

Buck has shown all he can at the AAA level, but has had limited opportunities to reclaim a starting spot in the Oakland lineup. He remains in management's doghouse for publicly telling the media he wasn't hurt when the A's placed him on the disabled list at the end of May. He'll be back with the A's in September, but don't expect him to receive much playing time. 

Grant Desme - OF - Stockton Ports (Advance Single-A)

Grant Desme hit his 15th home run of the season for Stockton Tuesday night

Desme was 2-5 on the night with a home run and a double. The home run was his 15th with Stockton this season and his 26th overall in just 427 at bats. The 2007 Second Round draft choice out of Cal Poly was largely considered a bust entering this season as he had been hurt his first two seasons in the league. However, he is now emerging as one of the best prospects in the Oakland system.

Posted on: June 23, 2009 3:03 am
Edited on: June 23, 2009 3:38 am

(Travis) Buck Stops Here

A's Young Outfielder Proving to Management He Belongs

Travis Buck is angry. He's let it be known that he's not happy with A's management, nor manager Bob Geren.

And I don't blame him.

After returning from the 15 day disabled list on June 14th, the A's optioned Buck to AAA-Sacramento.

At the time, it was thought that Buck was sent down to get work in while the A's played 9 straight interleague games in NL parks. After all, the A's had to get their everday DH and home run leader, Jack Cust, into the lineup. But now that the A's are back in American League ballparks for the rest of the way, that never seemed to be the case as Buck is still stuck in AAA.

Buck was upset about being placed on the disabled list on May 30th, a day after refusing to play in the second game of a double header against the Texas Rangers on May 29th due to a strained oblique muscle. Even though Buck supplied almost all of the A's offense in the first game, it must of made both Bob Geren and Billy Beane mad that Buck said he was pain free the next day. 
Even though the A's front office would never admit to it, it's really the only explanation that makes sense. After all, Buck has hit .323 in his last 31 at bats with the team. Most of which have come sparingly due to Bob Geren platooning Buck for the entire season.

But then that got this A's fan thinking....

Could Billy Beane's ego be that big that he would sacrifice putting a better product on the field to make a statement to a player? Or was it Bob Geren, the man that has refused to give Buck regular at bats since the beginning of the season, that wanted Buck off the roster?

The A's as a team were hitting just .242 at the time Buck was placed on the disabled list and it seems odd the team wouldn't want one of their hottest hitters in the lineup. The team batting average has since dropped to .235 through Sunday, which is worst in the majors. 

However, Buck isn't letting the demotion affect him.

So far in 46 plate appearances for the Rivercats, Buck is hitting .405 with a .478 on base percentage. Not only that, but Buck is slugging .649, with 6 doubles and 1 home run in just 11 games. He clearly is sending management a message of his own.

A message like "You made a big mistake".

A rookie in 2007, Buck played very well for the A's as he went on to hit .288 with 7 home runs in just 285 at bats. Inspired by his performance and work ethic, the A's decided to trade their oft injured star in Milton Bradley in order to secure everday playing time for him.

However, after starting out 0 for his first 20 at bats in 2008, the A's sent Travis to AAA to fix his swing rather than letting him work out his problems with the big league club.

After a few weeks, Buck had fixed his swing, but the A's found that they didn't have a roster spot for him as they had brought back Frank Thomas to fill a void in the lineup.

Buck continued to hit in the minors and finished the year batting .326 for Sacramento. In the final two weeks of September, Buck was called back up to the A's and hit .367 with four home runs and 12 RBI in that time frame. 

At the outset of spring training in 2009, Buck came into camp told that he would be battling for the starting right field job. At the conclusion, Buck put all the critics to rest hitting for a .300, a .402 on base percentage and led the team in home runs and RBI. Naturally, it was assumed that Buck would be playing everday for the A's in right field.

However, manager Bob Geren was never a member of the Travis Buck fan club.

Geren decided initially to platoon Buck, only starting him against right handers. The logic never made sense though.

Usually, when a player is to be platooned against left handed pitchers, they are platooned with a player that can hit those lefties better. Buck's platoon partner, outfielder Rajai Davis, wasn't any better at hitting lefties than Buck himself. Buck's career average against left handers was two points higher than Davis. Also, he isn't considered a core piece of the future of the Oakland A's, so it seemed odd to give him the at bats. Up until this point, it seemed as if Travis Buck was one of those players. Now, I'm not so sure....Only because A's management won't let him be.

Buck needs to be up with the major league roster and he needs to be playing everday. He is doing everything in his power to prove he belongs. Whatever the case may be, whether it's Beane or manager Bob Geren, the conflict needs to be resolved and the egos need to be checked. Travis Buck has earned his right to play everday.

If Buck can't force Beane to call him back up, then perhaps his play in Sacramento will force Billy to trade him. Either way, it's a no win situation for Oakland with Buck off of the 25 man roster.

Posted on: May 5, 2009 1:29 am
Edited on: May 6, 2009 12:06 am

What About Bob?

A's Manager Infuriating Fan Base

If a loss was an actual statistic applied to the manager of your team, how many do you think he's accumulated so far? In Oakland, third year manager Bob Geren has already cost the team several games and fans are becoming impatient.

Hired in November of 2006, Geren replaced former Oakland skipper Ken Macha, who was fired when the A's failed to advance to the World Series after getting swept by the Tigers in the 2006 ALCS. The justifications behind the Macha firing were mainly explained by Macha's methods of communication with players and upper management. Most notably, Macha had called injured pitchers Rich Harden and Joe Kennedy "non-entities" and became frustrated when Mark Ellis didn't want to play through a hurt finger in the 2006 playoffs. He also was criticized for not communicating with bench players and had differing views from GM Billy Beane on several managerial issues.  However, Macha still managed to get results during his tenure as he was 355-268 during his four years in Oakland and averaged 92 wins a season.

The same can't be said about Bob Geren.

Geren served as the A's bench coach under Macha and has been with the organization since 1999. The minor league record Geren had with various teams was 452-390, but the success hasn't translated at the major league level so far as Geren has only average 75 and a half wins a season in his first two years.

So did the A's front office make a mistake? The early results suggest that they did.
Apologists of Geren will reference the A's "rebuilding phase" they entered once Geren took over management as an excuse for his poor overall record. However, this phase was only entered into after Geren failed to take a 2007 roster, that featured 23 returning players from 2006 ALCS team, and make them winners. 

Looking ahead, while fans knew the 2008 team wouldn't compete with the deals management made, there was still a strong sense of optimism that most fans had for the team entering the 2009 season. Through the various deals the previous year, Billy Beane had restocked the farm system with several promising young arms. These arms, combined with the recent acquisitions of all-star outfielder Matt Holliday, shortstop Orlando Cabrera, and first basemen Jason Giambi were supposed to guide this team back to "respectability".

Geren's decision making abilities was already questioned early on when he chose to go with pitcher Josh Outman as the fifth starter in his rotation over the more talented Sean Gallagher. Not only did Geren not go with Gallagher, but he didn't send Gallagher to AAA to get in work as a starter. Instead, Geren left Gallagher at the end of his bullpen and hardly ever used him in a game. In addition, Geren has been criticized by fans for failing to skip Outman when he has the chance and also for platooning outfielder Travis Buck with Rajai Davis even though Buck (a left handed hitter) has a higher average against left handed pitchers than Davis.

Throughout the year so far, the offense has been anemic, while the pitching staff has been just average. With that said, the A's have found themselves in many close ballgames and it is these type of games, where a good manager can be the difference between a win and a loss. In a game against the Yankees early in the season, Geren decided to play the infield in when the Yankees featured runners at second and third with one out in the second inning.....

Yes. I did just type second inning. However, I failed to mention that the game was tied 0-0. Why any manager would do this at this point of a game is beyond me. Little league managers know better than this. It ended up costing the A's game. The Yankees ended up scoring four runs in the inning when the next two hits could have been fielded for outs instead of singles. Had Geren played the infield back, the result would have been minimal and he would have given his team a chance to win. The Yankees only scored one run the rest of the game.

Later in that series, the team had an extra inning ballgame where Dan Giese had already gone three innings and was clearly worn out. The A's alternatives in their pen featured Sean Gallagher and Santiago Casilla. Gallagher could have worked several innings, as he was formerly a starter for the team, but Geren chose to leave Giese out to dry and the A's ended up losing the game.

In the weekend series this past week, the A's had several leads against the Seattle Mariners and failed to capitalize on them and put teams away. Instead, Geren left relievers in for way too long. The most recent was Gio Gonzalez, who made 103 pitches in relief on Sunday night. That should never happen in a relief role. Not only were the A's leading by three entering the bottom of the 13th, but the A's had several other options they could have turned to. By stretching Gio Gonzalez out, they risked injury and they also ended up losing the game.

A's pitcher Gio Gonzalez was left out to dry Sunday night

So far, not counting Monday nights game, Geren has cost this team at least two wins (if not more) and has not put the team in position to win ballgames. Even the A's pythagorean win-loss percentage suggests that the team should have two more wins than they already do.

Firing Geren would be a difficult task for GM Billy Beane to do. After all, Geren was the best man at Beane's second wedding. However, it's what many A's fans want to happen right now and there is a pretty good argument to support it. I'm not going to go there just yet, but I will say that Geren should be placed on the hot seat. If he cannot produce some results this season, perhaps he's not the right guy for the job.

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