Oakland Athletics State Of The Union: 2014 Preview
By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
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A.J. Griffin received better news, but also will be sidelined for the near future with a UCL strain.
To complicate the opening roster even more, Scott Kazmir has Triceps soreness and is currently also on the shelf.
Billy Beane knows the epidemic of Starters having UCL problems. This is one of the reasons he hates signing Pitchers for long-term deals anyway.
Look at the GM’s trade history, he knows more than anyone that a guy is worth the most amount of value in the 1st 7 years of his career.
The ‘Moneyball” man knows that drafting pitching and trading them for hitters (plus young pitching) when they are at the pinnacle of their life in Oakland is smart.
Known as the transaction master, watch Beane pluck a few pitchers from the waiver wire once teams announce their final roster spots.
The A’s also have enough organizational depth to do another trade.
The other idea that passed through my mind is to watch the progress of top prospect Addison Russell.
If he can progress enough to take over a spot on the big club, this could mean more trade prospects.
Jed Lowrie is on the last year of his contract. If he can’t duplicate his brilliant 2013 year, and struggles some, the club may want to trade him near the deadline, so they be able to net a pitcher in return.
Let this one play out.
The A’s have the most wins in the MLB since the start of 2012 year. The AL West should be tougher this year with improvements on the Seattle, Texas, Houston and Los Angeles squads.
The biggest key for Oakland this year is Yoenis Cespedes. I project him to have a monster year, where he may provide 30+ HRs and add 100 RBI.
Coco Crisp will be eager to match his 20/20 season in HRs last year. This guy is perfect for the Bay Area team.
The club signed him to a 2 YR/$22.75 MIL extension for 2015 and 2016 (with a 2017 Vesting Option) based on his great 2013 year. Crisp finished 15th in AL MVP Voting for good reason.
I bank on Crisp to smack 50 XBH, hit for a decent average, walk a fair bit, and continue to lead off for the team.
Brandon Moss will man the position at 1B in 2013, and look to have another 30 HR season like last year. Moss added 87 RBI in just 446 AB.
He is a year away from Arbitration, and is asserting himself as a great young power hitter. The LHB clubbed for a .904 OPS vs RHP.
Nate Freiman may pick up some 1B AB vs LHP, as he carries an .805 OPS for his only season.
At 2B you can see the team playing Eric Sogard and Alberto Callaspo. Sogard is better defensively, but Callaspo is a good contact hitter that walks a lot, without striking out a ton.
Callaspo hit for 70 PTS higher on the OPS front.
Jed Lowrie will start the year at SS, where he clubbed 62 XBH (15 HRs and 45 – 2B in 2013) among his .290/.344./.446 slash last year in what was his career best season.
Like I said before, Lowrie is in the last year of his deal.
The one option the team could do is put him back at Second Base if they call up Addison Russell. Lowrie hit 3rd in the lineup for the majority of the year in 2013.
I think a small regression may come this year, but .275/.330/.425 is not out of the question, with teens in HRs and plenty of Doubles.
At 3B, Josh Donaldson comes back to the hot corner after adding a 4th place AL MVP finish.
He was superb in a campaign he went .301/.384/.499 – with 37 Doubles and 24 HRs added to his 93 RBI.
The 27 Year Old should be looked at by the franchise for a long-term extension. He has put up the numbers the team has missed at 3B since the days of Eric Chavez.
I would expect another great year from Donaldson at .295/.380/.500 – with 25 HRs and 90+ RBI.
The Catcher position should be equally split up by Derek Norris and John Jaso.
Jaso’s last 501 AB in the Majors look great between 2012 and 2013: (.273/.390/with over a .400 SLG). He is a Beane player through and through.
Whether he is in the DH or Catchers slot, he should be given as many AB as possible. An OBP of nearly .400 would be perfect out of the 2 slot in the lineup.
Derek Norris improved a great deal from 2012 – 2013, putting up OPS’s of .625 and .754 respectively. 9 HRs and 30 RBI in just 264 AB is decent production.
If he were to play a full season, Norris could jack about 20 HRs and bring in 70 RBI.
Josh Reddick will be given a chance in RF to start the campaign. He slumped for the majority of the year from his wrist injury. but was much better in August and September.
I am not sure he can club 32 HRs again like in 2012, but he will hit more than his 12 HRs in 2014. If he plays a full year, look for .240/.330/.420 – with 23 HRs and 65 RBI.
Should Reddick slump to start, Brandon Moss could see some time in RF, and Jaso or Freiman could pick up some reps at 1B.
Cespedes should go .270/.320/.500 with 35 HRs and 104 RBI.
The OF production may near about 80 HRs between the 3 positions.
Crisp will hit .260/.330/.400 – with 90 Runs Scored and 20 SB.
Craig Gentry, another bench player is a great choice as the 4th OF. This guy has blazing speed with 56 SB in about a season’s worth of work.
Gentry has a .280 Career BA, with a .356 OBP. He is also not foreign to the playoffs. This was a move that was smart in case Crisp hadn’t of re-signed.
Even though he had, Gentry can also play CF, with Crisp seeing some AB at DH if necessary to rest the Veteran.
Nick Punto is another player that is a Utility guy. He can play SS/3B or 2B, but will not light it up offensively. It was a smart move by Beane to secure his services as it gives him option.
The strongest facet of this team right now is the Bullpen.
Revamped to be something fierce, it features Jim Johnson and his 101 Saves over the last few years.
I am not sure he will make the whole year as the Closer, however, I think he will settle in nice, with an ERA under 3.
Luke Gregerson may be the guy to take over the Closer’s Role, but if not, he stays the whole year as just a Reliever, that would make him a candidate for a Holds Leader.
The team should be able to Save 50+ games.
Expect both of them to have ERA’s under 3, appear in 70+ Games, and fan about 1 guy per inning.
Doolittle has a 5 to 1 career SO/BB area, and his WHIP is just over 1 for his lifetime at 1.01. His numbers were even better last year for WHIP at 0.957.
Ryan Cook has a 2.55 ERA in 148.1 IP throughout his career. He is a potential Closer in going forward as well.
Josh Lindblom and Evan Scribner also preside in the Relief Core.
Lindblom did start 5 games for the Rangers last year. His best stretch of pitching came from the 2012 time with the Dodgers, posting a 3.02 ERA in 48 Game Appearances.
The rest of the time has been inconsistent.
Scribner has finished 25 Games over the last few years and has great potential to keep improving.
Jesse Chavez threw to a 3.92 ERA in 57.1 IP worth of work last year. With everything equal he would be out of the pen for the whole year.
Since injuries are running rampant, he may see significant time as a Starter in the rotation.
Dan Otero is another option out of the pen.
Abad may stick around considering injuries to 60% of the rotation right now, and Relievers being thrusted into starting roles.
Pomeranz will start out in the Bullpen, but could be stretched out to Start. If he does badly, he may even see some time in the Minors.
There is nothing wrong with jumping Tommy Milone (Career 26 – 19, .578 with a 3.92 ERA) from #6 on the Depth chart from anywhere from 3rd to 5th.
Milone was acquired in the Gio Gonzalez deal a few years ago, with the team netting Jaso and Norris as assets in the roster assets from the deal.
Fernando Rodriguez, the last Bullpen candidate on the 2014 squad, was also brought in for the Carter deal.
Dan Straily improved vastly in 2013, putting forth a record of 10 – 8, 3.96 ERA.
The 25 Year Old flew under the radar in Rookie Of The Year Voting last year, placing 5th. I expect the big RHP to put forth a great sophomore campaign.
I project a 14 – 10 year, with a 3.75 ERA.
If Kazmir throws a full year, he should win 11 – 13 games, and hold an ERA around 4.
It is tough to believe this guy is only 30 years old – when you consider how little he pitched for the few years prior to 2013.
Trading Bret Anderson was done right after the Kazmir signing.
The idea was to pay nearly the same amount of money in the next 2 years, while bringing in Drew Pomeranz additionally.
The Athletics did pick up $2 MIL worth of the salary for Anderson, but this is what Beane does. Pomeranz is under Team Control until 2019.
This is the way the GM keeps the depth on the team. Had he just kept Anderson, he couldn’t have signed Kazmir. The net effect was another pitcher that could Start or be used in the Bullpen.
Griffin is listed as out indefinitely, lets hope he doesn’t need TJ Surgery. If he is later to find out this, it will also affect the 2015 year now.
Sonny Gray maybe the best healthy pitcher on Oakland now. I see him winning 15 or 16 games, and carrying an ERA in the 3 range.
He only gave up 4 HRs in his 64 IP worth of chucking in 2013. Sporting a 2.67 ERA and a WHIP of 1.109. I expect the ERA to climb a little, but it won’t hurt him that much.
I like the A’s to win nearly 90 Games as they stand right now. If Griffin is unable to join the team in any capacity at 100%, I think will knock off another 3 games.
I will split the difference at about 88 Wins. I think this will be good for 2nd in the AL West.
If the roster was intact including Parker, I may have predicted a 3rd straight Division Title.
I believe 88 Wins may be good enough to fight with Boston and New York for the 2nd Wild Card.
The Starters worry me some, however a more balanced offensive attack, and the best Bullpen in the AL, I believe this team can patchwork the Rotation to stay afloat.
In my official prediction, I am saying the A’s tie the Yankees for the 2nd Wild Card slot, and will play a playoff game which they will lose.’
Of course Beane may pull of a deal that puts Oakland over the top.
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Posted on March 19, 2014, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions and tagged A.J cole, A.J. Griffin, addison russell, AL West, alberto callaspo, arizona diamondbacks, Athletics 2014 40 man roster, athletics 25 man roster 2014, barry zito, bartolo colon, billy beane, blake treinen, brad peacock, brandon moss, bret anderson, chris carter, coco crisp, colorado rockies, craig gentry, Dan Otero, dan straily, daric barton, derek norris, drew pomeranz, eric chavez, eric sogard, evan scribner, fernando abad, fernando rodriguez, gio gonzalez, ian krol, jarrod parker, jed lowrie, jesse chavez, jim johnson, john jaso, josh donaldson, josh lindblom, josh reddick, los angels of anaheim, luke gregerson, mark Mulder, michael taylor, moneyball, nate freiman, nick punto, o.co coliseum, oakland athletics, rich harden, ryan cook, scott kazmir, sean doolittle, seattle mariners, seth smith, sonny gray, stephen vogt, texas rangers, tim hudson, tommy milone, trevor cahill, washington nationals, yoenis cespedes. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Oakland Athletics State Of The Union: 2014 Preview.