30 Clubs in 30 Days: Oakland Athletics

Posted: March 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

ImageLike Baltimore, the Oakland Athletics emerged from the depths to capture a playoff berth in 2012. In his first full-season at the helm, manager Bob Melvin commanded a 78 win team in 2011 to an American League West division title. This achievement, which came even after the team shipped RHP Trevor Cahill and C Kurt Suzuki out of town, came after the team started 43-43 in the first half of the season. Their comeback, keyed by a 19-5 record in July, was completed with a three-game sweep of back-to-back American League champion Texas as part of a six-game winning streak to end the season.

New faces like OF’s Josh Reddick (.242-32-85) and Yoenis Cespedes (.292-23-82) revved the engine of an offense constructed of young talent and grizzled veterans. Their best hitter may have been Brandon Moss (.291-21-52), who spent much of the prior season in Lehigh Valley as a member of the IronPigs, unable to get a job with the Phillies.

No one will be surprised by the A’s this time around. They head into 2013 with a new 3B (Jed Lowrie), C (John Jaso), and SS (Hiroyuki Nakajima). Their rotation, largely comprised of rookies last season, should have more experience. But, there is no telling whether or not we will see a sophomore slump.

Five Year Review:
2012: 94-68
Lost ALDS to Tigers, 3-2
2011: 74-88
2010: 81-81
2009: 75-87
2008: 75-86

2012 Team MVP: LF Yoenis Cespedes: A division champion typically has plenty of worthy MVPs on their roster. Oakland is no different. But, one cannot help but see the link between Cespedes joining Oakland and the team emerging from mediocrity. The 26-year old Cuban defector burst onto the scene with 23 HR and 82 RBI in 129 G. Oakland signed the outfielder just a few weeks before spring training in February. By the time the season began, Cespedes was the team’s most feared hitter. His immediate impact on the club was recognized by voters, as Yoenis came in second for Rookie of the Year and tenth for MVP.

2012 Team LVP:  RHP Tyson Ross: There were some notable candidates on offense, such as 1B Daric Barton. But, the fact of the matter remains that Ross’ inconsistencies trumped any other player’s struggles in 2012. Ross began the year in Oakland’s rotation, tossing two strong games against the Angels and Indians. He then went on to allow 16 ER in 7.1 innings over his next two starts. This was the type of maddening inconsistency that led to a 2-11, 6.50 record. Ross was left off of Oakland’s postseason roster and then traded this offseason to San Diego for IN Andy Parrino and LHP Andrew Werner.

Key Acquisitions:

C John Jaso (Seattle Mariners)
SS Hiroyuki Nakajima (Japan)
IF Jed Lowrie (Houston Astros)
CF Chris Young (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Key Departures:

C Max Stassi (Houston Astros)
1B Chris Carter (Houston Astros
SS Stephen Drew (Boston Red Sox)
SS Cliff Pennington (Arizona Diamondbacks)
3B Brandon Inge (Pittsburgh Pirates)
OF Jonny Gomes (Boston Red Sox)
OF Colin Cowgill (New York Mets)
RHP Brandon McCarthy (Arizona Diamondbacks)
RHP Brad Peacock (Houston Astros)
RHP Jim Miller (New York Yankees)

Projected Lineup/Rotation (w/composite 2013 projections):

1. CF Coco Crisp (.266-10-50-37 SB)
2. 3B Jed Lowrie (.248-16-59)
3. LF Yoenis Cespedes (.274-23-83-13 SB)
4. 1B Brandon Moss (.244-21-68)
5. RF Josh Reddick (.247-24-77)
6. DH Chris Young (.234-12-40)
7. C John Jaso (.260-7-42)
8. 2B Scott Sizemore (.241-8-37)
9. SS Hiroyuki Nakajima (.268-7-47)

1. LHP Brett Anderson (10-9, 3.73)
2. RHP Jarrod Parker (11-10, 4.01)
3. LHP Tommy Milone (10-10, 4.07)
4. RHP A.J. Griffin (9-9, 3.98)
5. RHP Bartolo Colon (5-6, 4.01)
CP. RHP Grant Balfour (3-2, 3.20, 20 SV)
SU. RHP Ryan Cook (3-2, 3.77, 4 SV)

2013 Outlook:

The Athletics came out of nowhere to win the talented AL West last season. Their young players, who obtained much needed experience during that run, are back for another try. But, they lost a lot of key cogs to that bunch, albeit improving in certain areas of need. Chris B. Young, a former 30+ HR hitter, should be an improvement in a platoon with lefty Seth Smith at DH. The team also improved dramatically behind the plate, where they relied on rookies for much of the year. They rotation is a year older, and that is a good thing for a young team like Oakland. If Brett Anderson can finally stay healthy, they may have one of the better staffs in the division.

The A’s caught lightning in a bottle in the second half of 2012. I think players like Cespedes and Reddick will only improve. But, I was not in love with their decision to acquire Lowrie, surrendering talented youngsters to Houston in the process. The former Red Sox and Astro just cannot stay healthy. Can a guy like Brandon Moss really replicate his mammoth 2012? I think Oakland wins between 81-87 games, falling short of the postseason.

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