Friday 3 February 2012

2012 Previews: Oakland A's

I'm not sure why I opted to put the Twins before the A's, but whatever.  This team is going to be historically bad this season, after trading away their two top pitchers from last year, and having injury concerns for their new #'s 1 and 2.  Boy, that Billy Beane really knows how to tear apart a ball club.  And rightly so, since he has to do it every three years.

The Majors
I'm guessing Brandon Mccarthy gets dealt at some point this season, once he can confirm the fact that he's a pretty good pitcher, as opposed to a flash in the pan.  Beyond that, they're more or less filling that club with a bunch of scrub-level major leaguers until they can find a new stadium, meanwhile loading up on high-ceiling minor league talent.  They've replaced Josh Willingham with the platoon of Jonny Gomes and Seth Smith, and redesigned their rotation after trading Gio Gonzalez, Guillermo Moscoso and Trevor Cahill with Bartolo Colon and the returning Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson.  All in all, this team should be about as bad as they were last year (maybe a bit worse) in terms of talent, but not in terms of wins, with the obvious caveat being the improvements of Texas and Anaheim.  This club is going to lose an awful lot of games in front of hardly any fans.

The Minors
Shining light.  An already above-average farm system just got a whole lot better, thanks to the trades of Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, whom Billy Beane turned in to a bunch of high-upside prospects.  They already had Michael Choice, who should develop in to a very good MLB outfielder, but the pitching depth that they've accumulated through these trades should turn out another solid batch of front-of-the-rotation type starters.  The Gio Gonzalez trade netted them 3 4* prospects, according to Kevin Goldstein, and the Cahill trade got them Jarrod Parker, who Fangraphs lists as their new top prospect.

This system is good, and will probably continue to improve, with Billy Beane at the helm.  That dude just doesn't fuck around when he's rebuilding a team.  He'll probably continue to trade for pitching prospects, develop them well, and use his pitcher-friendly ballpark to his advantage when he turns them in to more prospects.

The Verdict
All three of the A's division rivals have improved this offseason, while the A's have moved backwards slightly.  They know that they're not competing, and are blowing it up, while the Angels and Rangers are going for it now and for the next few years.  The Mariners are probably approaching go-for-it mode in the next few years, so Billy Beane is perfectly content to just sit back and let that happen.  As result, we just might have the worst team in the American League in the Oakland A's.

Billy is going to turn this club around in the next few seasons with a farm system that he's building, but in the meantime, things could get pretty nasty.  The success (and I use that as a relative term) of this team has a lot to do with their pitching, and how quickly Billy decides to finish blowing up the team.  If Anderson returns to form, and Brandon Mccarthy remains good, and Bartolo Colon can repeat his 2011 season, this team could, I suppose, win as many games as last year.  I doubt all of those things happen, and even if they do, Billy Beane probably uses that as leverage to move them at or before the trade deadline.

Projection: 70-92, 4th in the AL West

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