Sunday, June 8, 2008

On The Rise: Oakland Athletics

The Oakland A's are one of the best run teams in the MLB, thanks to Billy Beane and his talented staff. Never underestimate Billy Beane and the A's because they'll always be in the playoff race no matter what. This is because Billy Beane lets his players peak and then trades them off for younger, better parts and he also has a sense for picking up young talented players that have been tossed aside by another major league team and turning them into stars. The former process is cyclical. It started with Jason Giambi, Jason Isringhausen and Johnny Damon as they all left for greener pastures. Then came Miguel Tejada and he also left via free agency. Then Billy Beane realized that he could get even more for his players than just 2 draft picks. As a result of this he traded Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder for a boatload of prospects and let Barry Zito go to the Giants in the offseason. Now dealing away the third generation of his players in Nick Swisher and Danny Haren he's bringing back a bounty of minor league talent.

The A's have a great young catcher who plays great defense and gets on base(the classic Bill Beane player) named Kurt Suzuki and he bats leadoff. they also have a great infield with Daric Barton, a slugging 1B acquired in the Mark Mulder deal, and at 2B is Mark Ellis the impending free agent who does everything right. At 3B is Jack Hannahan a great defender who has replaced Eric Chavez, and just knows how to get on base. Billy Beane picked Hannahan up for nothing last summer in a trade with the Tigers. At short is Bobby Crosby who has finally started showing why he was such a highly touted prospect. Their outfield is stocked with young talented players like Travis Buck, Ryan Sweeney and the best of them Carlos Gonzalez. All these guys know how to hit and are good fielders. Of course there are those veteran guys Billy Beane picked up on this team as well, Emil Brown and Mike Sweeney and they're doing okay(besides the fact that Sweeney's on the DL). At DH is their slugger Jack Cust who's walking a staggering 15.2% of the time he's up.

Thanks to the Swisher and Haren trade the A's rotation is full, with seconds coming very soon. I believe their two aces Joe Blanton and Rich Harden will be dealt by the start of next season leaving them with only, 8 other candidates for their starting rotation(which happens to be only 5 guys). They have the aforementioned Blanton and Harden along with Justin Duchscherer who has reemerged after missing a couple of years do to arm injuries. This guy has a bevy of pitches in his arsenal, pitching a 2-Seam, 4-Seam and a cutting fastball along with a Changeup, a Curveball and a Slider. They also have Greg Smith and Dana Eveland two of the six players received in the Haren trade who round out the rotation this year. They also have a great bullpen with veterans Alan Embree and Keith Foulke along with Huston Street and Kiko Calero, yet another byproduct of the Mulder trade. They also have two starters down their in Dallas Braden and Chad Gaudin a fantastic waiver wire pickup.

The Oakland A's restocked their farm system this offseason in the midst of rebuilding and acquired some good young talent. They acquired outfielder Aaron Cunningham, first basemen Chris Carter and pitchers Gio Gonzalez, Fautino De Los Santos and Brett Anderson along with Ryan Sweeney, Carlos Gonzalez, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith in attempt to strengthen their already strong farm system. The A's have tons of low level prospects along with the recent draft that added Jemile Weeks, their future second basemen and others. They now have one of the top 5 systems in the MLB. Good luck playing them in 2010.