Leading up to the start of the 2009 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams. Today’s team is the Oakland Athletics. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers will preview every team division by division until the start of the regular season.
Billy Beane has went from one of the best GM’s in baseball to a
gay mad scientist. Remember when the Oakland A’s were built with young talent, and great young arms? The A’s were able to compete and were considered the model small/mid-market organization in all of baseball. Well Beane has now traded away a lot of that very youth foundation in some head scratching moves.
Beane shipped out the most dominant closer the A’s have seen since Dennis Eckersley, and in return got exactly the kind of player he covets. In one of the biggest trades of the off-season, Beane did the appropriate amount of wheeling and dealing to land Colorado’s superstar outfielder Matt Holliday. Now this move is only surprising because not only did the A’s send Street but also Carlos Gonzalez, who was one of their finest offensive prospects. A friend of ours was talking to the assistant GM of the Rockies in Vegas this offseason and the Rockies are thrilled about Gonzalez coming over in the deal, they feel he’ll be a star. Beane gets a great player in Holliday but he’s close to being able to walk in free agency and command a mega deal. We thought the move was poor.
The A’s also rescued Jason Giambi from the Bronx and brought him back to Oakland. Giambi will close out his career most likely in Oakland and has proven he’s not all that bad of a player minus the steroids.
The leadoff guy should be centerfielder Ryan Sweeney, a relative unknown. Second baseman Mark Ellis will precede Holliday and Giambi in the middle of the lineup. Eric Chavez is back once again, and it seems like its been forever since Chavez was able to log a full season of at bats. If he can stay healthy enough to get back in the box for 500 at bats he could have a 30 homer season. The odds are against that happening, as Chavez is coming off shoulder surgery in the offseason. Jack Cust is a pure power guy. He could hit 25-30 homers or he could struggle to hold an everyday job as the rightfielder. Daric Barton is back as the first baseman. He’s nothing special offensively from that position but you wonder: does Oakland know something we don’t about the guy? Every year they seemingly have someone put up numbers that wasn’t expected to. They’re going to hit on some of these young players. Kurt Suzuki is the catcher and will hit 8th. Bobby Crosby is back as the shortstop, and you wonder if he’ll ever reach the mountain-like ceiling he was once projected to reach. It isn’t looking like it.
While there are decent arms waiting in the minors, the starting rotation is virtually anonymous. Justin Duchsherer was anonymous a year ago but made Rich Harden expendable. We still didn’t like the move to trade Harden, who will have a Cy Young when its said and done. After Duchsherer, Oakland trots out three lefties in Dana Eveland, Dallas Braden, and Gio Gonzalez. We like Braden the best out of those three. Sean Gallagher is the only other righty in the rotation. Your best is as good as ours about these guys after the immensely solid Duchsherer. You have to figure Oakland knows something we don’t, as they have in the past.
The closer will either be Joey Devine or Brad Ziegler. Ziegler is a valuable bullpen arm because he has good stuff and can go more than one inning if needed. Russ Springer and newly acquired Micheal Wuertz are the next most reliable arms out of the pen. Jerry Blevins and Josh outman are the lefty specialists. Santiago Casilla may also get the opportunity to log some innings.
Overall, this should be a rebuilding year for the A’s, which makes the move to acquire Holiday all that much more puzzling to us. Either Oakland sees something before the rest of us or they’re headed for a last place finish in the AL West. When healthy their lineup will be able to get guys on base and cause a lot of problems. If not, they’re going to be a station to station ballclub.