OFFSEASON OUTLOOK: Oakland A’s

 

none of the A's are this attractive. not even Kurt Suzuki

 

 

Ah the A’s.  Billy Beane is a smart man, he has Brad Pitt playing him in the movie version of Moneyball (you can hear him here in A’s After Dark podcast) and figures to have figured into yet another strong group of arms.  The question, as it always seems to be with Oakland, then seems to be- will they hit enough?  We’ve already seen that a strong staff and timely hitters can win the World Series, thanks to Oakland’s cross bay partners so winning probably will still stick around the Bay.  Fantasy options though, for hitters?  Not so much.  With the rapid decline of Eric Chavez and some good young talent still being maybe a year away, the A’s don’t look like much of an offensive powerhouse.  The staff, on the other hand, should be carefully inspected… or at least read about in the following paragraphs.  Enjoy, sorry if it’s roughshod…

 

Will The A’s Bring in a Big Hitter as a Free Agent?

Adam Dunn has been mentioned as someone who could go to Oaktown, but If the A’s arg ne going to put some money out for a player to hit bombs, I think they would be more likely to go after Carlos Pena, who will be cheaper, a better defender, and cheaper.  Did I mention Pena would be cheaper?  An interesting note I stumbled across on MLBTR, as the A’s made a “strong push” for Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, Ken Rosenthal notes that the A’s and Brewers match up nicely for a trade, as the Brewers could move someone like Casey McGehee for a good young pitcher.  This type of scenario will likely play out as the offseason progresses and more players move around (teams are just starting to pull in players), but I found the idea fascinating.  On the one hand, the idea is innocent enough- young hitter for young pitcher.  But what if we go all ‘mad scientist’ with the idea?  Could the A’s make a swing for the big Prince?  Can you imagine?  Suddenly the A’s have Fielder, a young masher in Chris Carter (more on him later), a second-baseman-of-the-future in Jemile Weeks, and a damn fine Shortstop prospect in Grant Green.  Not to mention Mark Ellis and Kurt Suzuki, both solid hitters in their own right.  The face of this fantasy offense would completely change.  And it could happen.  It will not… but it could.  And that’s the fun of internet speculation, folks!

 

How Will The Young Pitching Progress?

Funny you should ask, I wrote about that here.

The long and short of it?  The A’s are looking like they have a nifty staff for some years to come – with reinforcements on the way, too.

UPDATE: The A’s have won the bidding for Hisashi Iwakuma.  This gives them considerable pitching depth.  The thinking in many circles (such as MLBTR) is that the A’s will trade some of their surplus pitching for a hitter, making some of my points about a good young emerging offense all the more relevant (hellllooo Brewers, it’s the A’s- call me.)

 

How Will Their Positional Prospects Turn Out?

Here are some rankings on Oakland’s prospects.  Here are more. And More. Let’s break this one down into parts:

Chris Carter-> He put up some BIG power numbers in the minors and scouts see that translating into the majors.  He is a known commodity.  Here’s an USA article on him.  People think he’s going to be good.  The fact that he can play both Left Field and First Base is going to get hi playing time.  He is ready for his shot at the big time, with nothing left to prove in the minors (almost 150 homers in 6 minor league seasons since being taken out of high school is impressive) and the A’s have a slot for him.  He needs, like all young power hitters, to learn the strike zone and lower his K rate (lowered anywhere around 20% is an improvement from his near 30% previous.  20% is still a lot).  With an improved approach and a (maybe) improved Oakland lineup in 2011, look for Carter to be a rookie standout at least in the power categories.

Jemile Weeks-> Highly touted after being picked 12th by the A’s in the 2008 draft (he had been selected before by the Brewers in 2005 but returned to school), Weeks looks to be a similar type player to Rick-A but with more of a speed tilt.  Still needing to master AA, Weeks showed good gap power, hitting 14 doubles, 7 triples and 3 homers in AA in 312 plate appearances though he only hit .267.  He too must improve his BB:K rate to improve to be MLB ready.  No one questions the kid’s athleticism, only his discipline, so he might be a year away- but when he makes it look out, we could be sitting on a dynamic player, much like his brother.  He is going on my watch list and will sit there all year, if need be.  Be wary in deep leagues and keepers, as I bet he’ll make an impact in 2012 for sure.

Grant Green-> Shortstop prospects are everyone’s favorite, right?  They always pan out so well… Didn’t an A’s SS prospect join the priesthood? He did.  I’m just being rhetorical.  Green projects as a nifty hitter and good fielder.  Only drafted in 2009, he definitely will not make a major impact on the A’s offense this year but I’m all about long  term investing.  Green showed a great stroke in high A, hitting .318 with 20 dingers.  These numbers will likely see some correction as he progresses levels but the idea of a good hitter with good pop remains- Green will be a major player for the A’s, just not this year.  I’m offering some long-range Oakland Athletic fantasy advice, for those of us who need to plan these things a long time in advance.  Be ready for a fe more years of Mark Ellis before either Weeks or Green takes the hitting torch for the middle infield.  Hopefully the A’s will have an offense by then, Green should be a nice complement.

Will The A’s Get Someone to Hit?

To be fair, they have the players (Coco, Kurt Suzuki, Ellis) but nothing of fantasy relevance last year.  Coco Crisp put together some sweet months to end the season, putting up the combo power-speed-average he has flashed but never put up fully.  Suzuki is good, for a catcher, and Ellis is simply a solid middle infielder.   Crisp is the current A’s hitter I’d keep an eye on, as his August and September may have turned more than just my head.  Also, give some love to my man Ryan Sweeney in the drafts, I love the guy’s hustle and he seems like a Nick Markakis-lite just waiting to break out.  Coco also punished lefties last year, so keep him in mind late in drafts and in deeper leagues if you are picking that last OF and are grappling with some can’t-miss phenom (ahem ahem Mike Stanton) or rolling the dice with Crisp.  I think Crisp is poised to have another solid campaign and he is a category filler.  Just sayin’.

 

 

Well, that’s all on the A’s.  Watch them for their free agency activity, their Japanese import, and Coco Crisp.  Until then, enjoy some Black Keys and remember:  Harry Potter comes out soon, and so do the mock drafts.  Be ready and excited for both.  And yes I am a full fledged dork.  It’s ok, only 3 or 4 people read this anyway….

 

Be good,

 

 

-w

 

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Filed under Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Pickups, Posted, Random Thoughts, Sleepers

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