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A’s Rebuild on the Fly

March 18, 2008 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Dan Haren was dealt by the A's this offseason.
Trading Dan Haren allowed the A’s to restock their farm system, but opened a huge hole in the rotation. (AP)

Kudos to the Oakland A’s for immediately recognizing that their great run of eight straight winning seasons – including five post-season appearances – was coming to an end last season.

Instead of throwing good money at bad money, this team stripped itself of key assets like 15-game winner Dan Haren, Nick Swisher and Mark Kotsay, bringing in a boatload of quality prospects who immediately provided a much-needed refresh of what was becoming a moribund farm system.

GM Billy Beane proved he can manage a loser as well as a winner, as despite the fact that the A’s plummeted from 93 wins and the AL West Crown in 2006 to 76 wins last year, this team looks poised to bounce back to at least .500 if not contention in the near future.

It wasn’t just the moves the A’s made that helped turn things around; it was the moves they didn’t make, i.e., not doing what everyone assumed they would and signing Barry Bonds, something that could have altered the entire chemistry of the organization.

Here are the key ingredients Oakland needs to combine to help rebound from its first losing season since 1998:

  • Last year, Mark Ellis stayed healthy and enjoyed a career year with the stick. Imagine if Bobby Crosby, who has failed to reach 100 games in any year since taking home AL ROY in 2004, were to stay healthy and contribute offensively. You’ve got to figure at the very least that Crosby will bounce back from the worst season of his career and that will sure help a team that was among the worst offensive clubs in the AL, ranking 13th in hitting last year. Combined with their usual lack of speed (dead last in steals), that was a deadly combo for the A’s. Making matters worse, if Crosby’s or Ellis’ health is again an issue, Marco Scutaro is no longer around to help pick up the slack.
  • Promising youngster Travis Buck also needs to stay healthy. He looks like he can rake, and if he gets a full season under his belt, he’ll surprise some people.
  • The A’s pitching was decent last year, finishing third in the AL in BAA, and the loss of Haren will certainly hurt here. But with Justin Duchscherer back at full health after hip surgery cost him most of 2007 and now shifted to the rotation, that may help take some of the sting out of Haren’s departure.
  • How about a healthy Eric Chavez for once? His back is bothering him this spring, an issue that will prohibit him from traveling to Japan for the games next week, but what a boost he’d provide if he can return to form after enduring the worst season of his career. Time is ticking on this dude as the A’s patience must be wearing thin.
  • How about Rich Harden? How much better would the A’s be if the Canadian boy can take the mound 30 times this year?
  • Chris DeNorfia in centrefield is unproven, but the A’s have other options on the way, including Carlos Gonzalez, one of the top prospects in the game. Of course, it’s far more likely that when the A’s summon Gonzalez, currently nursing a hamstring injury and expected to begin the year in Triple-A, it will be to replace the underwhelming Emil Brown in left field. Ryan Sweeney, battling to stick around as an extra outfielder, could get his shot as an everyday player at some point as well.
  • The fifth starter battle is among the most interesting competitions in camp, pitting Lenny DiNardo, the incumbent who has pitched well enough to retain the gig; Dallas Braden; Dan Meyer; and Dana Eveland, part of the Haren booty and the surprise of spring so far, earning the support of manager Bob Geren. Put Eveland on your sleeper list as he’s been knocking on the door for a while.
  • Don’t forget about Daric Barton, part of the fruit of the Mark Mulder trade a couple of years back. This top prospect, who it seems we’ve been hearing about forever, is ready to make some noise. Is this his breakthrough season? He sure made a splash in September, but how will he perform over the course of a full season, especially defensively?
  • Many believe closer Huston Street, another key player who missed substantial time last season, will be the next to go in the payroll purging process. If that happens, Joey Devine, another piece of the future added this offseason, seems the likeliest replacement. For now, however, that apprenticeship must wait. Back spasms slowed Devine this spring, and he’s now been optioned to the minors in a numbers game, with both Andrew Brown and Santiago Casilla being out of options. Devine’s departure likely means a job for Fernando Hernandez in the Oakland pen to begin the season. Still, put Devine on your radar for an in-season pickup.
  • Still in the bullpen, another key will be Kiko Calero. A very dependable reliever throughout his career, injuries ruined Calero’s season last year, causing him to be very ineffective before he was finally shut down. The A’s are counting on Kiko to be a valuable set-up man, especially with Duchscherer now in the rotation. The now unretired Keith Foulke will also be asked to help out here.
  • The A’s need projected No. 4 starter Chad Gaudin to bounce back from hip and foot surgeries. He looked good in his spring debut, but is behind schedule so can’t afford any setbacks if he’ll be ready to take the mound in mid-April as expected.
  • Joe Blanton, projected as the Opening Day starter, is yet another veteran who could soon find his way out of Oakland in the great A’s purge. Keep an eye on this, as some of those names mentioned above in the fifth starter battle stand to gain the most should Blanton be jettisoned.
  • Finally, the club will need further development from young catcher Kurt Suzuki, who took over as the main man behind the plate after Jason Kendall was sent packing last season. Suzuki has offensive potential, but must do a better job of shutting down opponents’ running games.

Oakland likely has some growing pains in store, but this team has positioned itself to rebound very quickly, especially if veterans like Harden, Chavez and Crosby can stay healthy enough to play large roles. By decade’s end, I expect the A’s to again be challenging for American League titles.

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8 Responses to “A’s Rebuild on the Fly”

  1. estsn says:

    The A’s had the potential last year, but you have to admire Beane’s recognition that the window was closed and it was time to retool the team for real and aim a few years down the road.

    The temptation to try to extend the budget and add quick fixes that might make them competitive a little longer must have been strong, but Beane correctly recognized where the A’s stood in relation to the Mariners and Angels.

    …I wonder if fans could get together and offer to pay him to take over the Leafs.

  2. RotoRob says:

    Ha ha, ya, right! The only thing that will fix the Leafs is adding a second NHL team in Toronto — that would force them to look at the big picture.

  3. estsn says:

    It’s sad but true that the only thing that will make a difference is if people stop going to the games.
    Unfortunately, if every season ticket holder just said “no thanks”, there would be 5 people ready to take each one of those those tickets.

  4. RotoRob says:

    You said it. What is there, a 35-year waiting list for seasons tickets??? Disgusting.

  5. [...] Further to Tuesday’s season preview of the Oakland A’s, RotoRob writer Tim McLeod gave me some shit for not mentioning Gio Gonzalez, one of his personal faves and part of the booty from the Nick Swisher trade. [...]

  6. [...] hernandez Posted on March 24, 2008, 11:01 pmby admin best video: keith hernandez foruser();    tv jsgealing timesjay barker wikipediajay barkeralabamaxmsr.comandy warhol marilyn monroe informationtony beckhamanne marie faheyMore For The Timeline? OK, for those giving Cramer the benefit of the doubt on Les Miserables Call on BSC, check out the above video from Don Harrold. When Cramer makes a pick on Mad Money, theStreet.com enters it into their system here. It’s some sort of performance tracker. Hit up BSC and you will see a bearish call on March 17th, a bullish call on March 6th, a bullish call on February 11th, and so on. What you don’t see is anything on March 11th when we know he mentioned BSC on Mad Money. But here’s where it geadamsoptions.blogspot.comapple.comfrankie hazeljoe franciscodonner party mapsixx am lyrics life is beautifulangkor wat tourremorque veloamLinks: Snuffleupagus, Meters, MySpace The Brooklyn Met Fan compares Orlando Hernandez to Snuffleupagus. At Amazin?? Avenue, Eric Simon posts the latest Make-the-Mets-O-Meter. In a post to Mets Today, Joe points to a discussion from last night??s broadcast on SNY, which revealed who the team??s mid-game, emergency catcher may be. ??also, last week, Willie Randolph told reporters that Damion Easley would be considered as well, though, ???We may just draw straws, or flip a coin at that point,??? he added?? Mike, from Mike??s Mets, investigawww.metsblog.comMarine Sings Answer To Dixie Chicks Hit Pictured: Cpl. David Thibodeaux, a Marine who has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, recently recorded ???I??m Not Ready to End the Fight,??? an answer song to the Dixie Chicks?? anti-war music. The song features backing music from Toby Keith??s Easy Money Band. Click HERE to watch the music video. From The Marine Corps Times: Cpl. David Thibodeaux was in Iraq with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, when the Dixie Chicks partnered with anti-war group MoveOn.org in 2004. Despite the band making headpatdollard.comThe Lenny Media Blitz Rolls On Maybe I’m underestimating this Dykstra Phenomenon. Apparently he has made like 1 billion with his car wash biz, and lives an Elvis sort of existence in a compound in Thousand Oaks California, formerly owned by Wayne Gretzky. He owns fancy cars and a Gulfstream jet and has trees there that are each worth more than the GDP of most countries. Whole big feature in The New Yorker as The Players Club gets set to roll out. What’s this new venture all about? To help financially advise current and exadamsoptions.blogspot.comA Healthy El Duque = SnuffleupagusA Healthy El Duque = Snuffleupagus March 20th, 2008 BMF feels bad disparaging Orlando ???El Duque??? Hernandez cuz I really like rooting for the dude. But I??m more likely to see Sesame Street??s Snuffleupagus shopping on Flatbush Ave than a healthy El Duque ever again. It??s just like Alou, who happens to be the king of the Snuffleupagus game, unfortunately these men aren??t the answer to anything. The sooner everyone comes to terms with that the better. Pitchers lose effectiveness with the smallebrooklynmetfan.comCoaching carousel The Barnstormers have made a change to their coaching staff. Sam Snider, who was hired by the team in December, has left to join the York Revolution. Lancaster has named Charles ???Boots??? Day to be Snider??s replacement. Snider, a longtime bullpen catcher for the Baltimore Orioles, was initially interested in joining the Revs because he and manager Chris Hoiles were roommates during their days in Baltimore. At the time, the Revs didn??t have an opening, so Snider accepted a position with Lancastbarnstormers.wordpress.comI get no kick from El Duque – New York Daily NewsEl Duque also sported a new goatee, and, judging from his rumored age, he appears to have borrowed some Just for Men from Keith Hernandez. …www.nydailynews.comLive-Blogging Experiment, Take 2: Beltran and Delgado Return to … – Most Valuable NetworkI guess spending all that time talking with Keith Hernandez will do that to you. Apparently, Willie likes what he??s seen from Pagan in the outfield. Oy vey. …mvn.comPirates to Go With Ronny Paulino and Ryan Doumit at Catcher – Bucs DugoutThe Pirates cut catchers Michel Hernandez and Raul Chavez, which by my count means there are only two catchers left in camp: Ronny Paulino and Ryan Doumit. …2008 Pirates spring training: Tools of the game Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviewwww.bucsdugout.comWhat Do Your Stars Say Today?What Do Your Stars Say Today?I have always found astrology very intriguing. What fascinates me the most is that the alignment of the stars can actually influence human lives. A person’s personality can be affected by the position of the sun, stars, moon and planets at the time of their birth. There are twelve Zodiac Signs which are based on the constellations through which the Sun, Moon, and planets transit across the sky. Your zodiac sign Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorhotsearches.aol.comCR Sunday Feature: Best Of 2007Cartoonist of the Year Gilbert Hernandez Book of the Year ACME Novelty Datebook Vol. 2, Chris Ware Publishing Project of the Year The New Love and Rockets Books Most Promising Major Debut Percy Gloom, Cathy Malkasian Most Interesting Step Forward Sammy the Mouse, Zak Sally Mini-Comic Of The Year Bluefuzz the Hero, Jesse Reklaw Future Greatest Living Cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez had a stupendous 2007, contributing to the best alt-comics single issue of the year Love and Rockets Vol. 2 20, prodwww.comicsreporter.comCpl. David Thibodeaux Sings Not Ready to End the Fight I know that nobody has heard from the Dixie Chicks in a long time. We??d probably just move on from the sedition and treason they committed in order to increase sales on their albums. The thing is ?? Cpl. David Thibodeaux was deployed in service to his country at the time so it took him a little longer to respond. He was busy with other things and the chicks were probably not really high on his list of things to handle at the time. Thibodeaux says much of what I??ve heard expressed from other menbluestarchronicles.comI get no kick from El DuqueI get no kick from El Duque Orlando Hernandez finally made his exhibition game-debut Sunday and it was a debacle – five runs in three innings against the weak Cardinals. At least I think it was El Duque – he didn??t look the same with a new windup that eliminated his trademark high leg kick. El Duque also sported a new goatee, and, judging from his rumored age, he appears to have borrowed some Just for Men from Keith Hernandez. It??s only his first game, but it doesn??t look good when a veterawww.nydailynews.comFinal Spring Results: The A’s Won and?Lost After a terribly traumatic morning, when the opening day trip to Japan was in very real jeopardy for a few moments finally solved by the Red Sox threatening to boycott Japan unless their coaches were paid for the trip a nice guesture, I thought, the A’s took the field against the Angels and the Cubs, with Harden making one start, and Blanton the other. Harden was assigned the loss, but pitched very well on his 90 pitch limit throwing 6 innings, 8 hits, 2 ER, 1BB, 4K. Keith Foulke ‘relievwww.athleticsnation.comJohan Santana??s Spring Training Debut: A Live-Blogging Experiment – Most Valuable Network… keep a running commentary on the game and the broadcast because let??s face it, it??s been months since we??ve heard Keith Hernandez say something goofy. …mvn.comTournament of Champions: Round 4,?day?8 New platform, same old routine: box scores here, summary after the jump. And the platform at Cardinal70’s tourney tracker page remains unchanged, as far as I know. Game 6, 1926 v 1968 Game 6, 1934 v 1964 Game 6, 1982 v 1985 1926 CARDINALS v. 1968 CARDINALS Game 6 1926 leads, 3 games to 2 summary by lboros Can Ray Washburn continue his incredible streak? He??ll have to if El Birdos are to survive in this tournament they??re facing elimination today against Hall of Famer Pete Alexandewww.vivaelbirdos.comHonor roll is announced at Ingersoll Middle School – Canton Daily LedgerSixth Grade 3.0 – 3.9: Sabrina Adams, Keith Allard, Cory Andes, Cody Aten, Katlynn Ault, Kyleigh Bair, Patrick Bell, Jeffrey Belville, Davantae Berry, …www.cantondailyledger.comDepth ChargesThough very little mystery remains for what the Indians?? 25-man roster figures to look like out of Spring Training, much of the talk and debate coming out of Winter Haven has centered around Ben Francisco??s bid to make the club as well as the very real concern that David Dellucci may not be able to rebound from a dreadful and injury-marred 2007 campaign. If results in Spring Training are the overriding factor in who makes the team out of Winter Haven, there really is no comparison between the twclevelandtribeblog.blogspot.comVideo link at the bottom Marine sings answer to Dixie Chicks hit Cpl. David Thibodeaux was in Iraq with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, when the Dixie Chicks partnered with anti-war group MoveOn.org in 2004. Despite the band making headlines with anti-war views, he didn??t know much about them, he says. Nevertheless, Thibodeaux now sings ???Not Ready to End the Fight,??? an ???answer song??? to the Dixie Chicks?? 2006 anti-war hit, ???Not Ready to Make Nice.??? ???I??ve seen so many good things happen in Iraq, and I don??t think it??s timmylifeasamilitaryspouse.blogspot.comIdol Headlines for 3/21/08 Season 7 Idol Mentors Are Announced Finally, watching the tedious results show paid off! Ryan Seacrest announced last night that the thank goodness only four mentors for the Top 10 will be Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Neil ???Sweet Caroline??? Diamond. Each mentor will help the remaining finalists prepare for their Tuesday night performances and will perform themselves on the Wednesday night results show. TV Guide Last words: Fallen Idol Amanda Overmyer says goodbye ???Itmjsbigblog.comFun With the Mets.com Mailbag: March 3 Edition – Most Valuable NetworkI know Piazza wasn??t the second coming of Keith Hernandez with the glove, but he still can swing the bat, and he would catch the throws and also could be an …mvn.comGuest-Blogger: Josh K! For our 10th anniversary year, we??ve asked those closest to us to help tell our story. In this case, why not Justin??s brother Josh. He??s been there. For the remainder of the year, Josh will tell his objective side of some of Schad??s most notorious stories. Take it away Josh! Who am I and why am I qualified to be a Schadenfreude guest blogger? Well, if you can give the back story on the following ???bits,??? then you too can have your own post. Suicide Blonde. Uncle T.J. Bolger??s passport. Ed Bwww.schadenfreude.netCounting Down Until The Games Count – Most Valuable NetworkAside from choosing to try it out for the first time during a weekday afternoon Spring Training game when Keith Hernandez wasn??t there, …mvn.comWeekend Feature:Former Cardinal star Hernandez speaks highly of Herzog – Waynesville Daily GuideSPRINGFIELD – Obviously Keith Hernandez felt it was the right time and the right place to make one thing very clear. He loved his time with the St. Louis …www.waynesvilledailyguide.com2008 Palm Beach Cardinals 1st Half Preview It was just 2006 the Palm Beach Cardinals won the Florida State League championship. There??s been some reshuffling with the coaching staff since then, one of the most significant being this year El Presidente himself, Dennis Martinez, will be Palm Beach??s pitching coach. Gaylen Pitts will manage while the fiery Keith Mitchell will be the hitting coach after managing the Swing the season prior. Guesstimated lineup: CF-Tyler Henley RF-Daryl Jones 1B-Brandon Buckman DH-Steven Hill 2B-Dafutureredbirds.comRivals Five: Sunday Storylines – GatorBait.net subscriptionFreshman left-handed pitcher Chris Hernandez put together another strong outing. He struck out eight and allowed two runs on just one hit in six innings of …florida.rivals.comA??s Rebuild on the Fly Trading Dan Haren allowed the A??s to restock their farm system, but opened a huge hole in the rotation. AP Kudos to the Oakland A??s for immediately recognizing that their great run of eight straight winning seasons ?? including five post-season appearances ?? was coming to an end last season. Instead of throwing good money at bad money, this team stripped itself of key assets like 15-game winner Dan Haren, Nick Swisher and Mark Kotsay, bringing in a boatload of quality prospects who immediatwww.rotorob.com2008 Palm Beach Cardinals 1st Half Preview It was just 2006 the Palm Beach Cardinals won the Florida State League championship. There??s been some reshuffling with the coaching staff since then, one of the most significant being this year El Presidente himself, Dennis Martinez, will be Palm Beach??s pitching coach. Gaylen Pitts will manage while the fiery Keith Mitchell will be the hitting coach after managing the Swing the season prior. Guesstimated lineup: CF-Tyler Henley RF-Daryl Jones 1B-Brandon Buckman DH-Steven Hill 2B-Dafutureredbirds.comTeen with warrant out leads police on 35-mile chase – Lufkin Daily NewsOther arrests and charges included: Eduardo Hernandez, 45, public intoxication Enrique Fernandez, 39, assault and Kevin Martin, 36, burglary of a building …www.lufkindailynews.comPirates to Go With Ronny Paulino and Ryan Doumit at CatcherTucked away in this article is a bit of news that’s actually pretty significant. The Pirates cut catchers Michel Hernandez and Raul Chavez, which by my count means there are only two catchers left in camp: Ronny Paulino and Ryan Doumit. This means that the Pirates won’t be carrying a no-hit backup catcher, and can use their bench spots to carry guys who can hit a bit. It also suggests that they’re relatively comfortable with Doumit behind the plate, which could mean that Doumit has the inside trwww.bucsdugout.com [...]

  7. [...] It’s time to take another look at Travis Buck in AL-only leagues. He started the season in an 0-for-22 funk, but apparently all he needed to get his shit together was a dose of Toronto pitching. Buck went 7-for-16 in the three-game series, smacking six doubles, driving in four and scoring three. This kid won’t fly under the radar for long. In preseason, I predicted that Buck would sneak up on people. [...]

  8. [...] Back in Spring Training we suggested that Justin Duchscherer moving into the rotation might take som…. Um, apparently we underestimated just how much of an impact Duchscherer would have. After Wednesday’s two-hit shutout performance, JD is now 10-5 with a major-league beat 1.78 ERA. Now comes the big question: when exactly will this converted reliever with a history of health problems hit his apex? I’ve been advising people in recent weeks to sell high on Duchscherer for a number of reasons. For starters, his previous career high in innings pitched was 96 1/3, and that was back in 2004; this year, he’s already at 101 IP, and we’re barely in mid-July. Can you say injury risk? I mean, remember that this is the same man who’s hip injury knocked him out for the last four and a half months in 2007, which makes his inning count this year even more of a red flag. Then, there’s the mere fact that he’s simply not this good. That’s no slight on Duchscherer, who has been brilliant out of the rotation. But really, no one is this good. Well, maybe Roger Clemens, circa 2005, but come on – what JD is doing is unsustainable. Trade him while his value is at its highest and let someone else sweat it over when the other shoe will drop. [...]

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