Sunday, April 4, 2010

30 A's in 30 Days: 2010 Oakland A's Prediction

Offense: Less than 24 hours ago, the A's future endeavored DFA'd starting DH Caveman Jack Cust and handed the job to erstwhile third baseman Eric Chavez. (I'm not sure what's more disheartening: watching Cust -- who I like -- burn his bridges or reading that Chavez first learned of the move from the media, not his manager). Anyways, scoring runs was already going to be this team's Achilles heel and now the middle of the order has fallen from "American League shaky" to "National League capable". C Kurt Suzuki (career SLG: .398) is the team's projected #3 hitter. 1B Daric Barton and SS Cliff Pennington are unproven at the plate over an entire big league season. The A's opening day OF (Ryan Sweeney, Rajai Davis and Travis Buck) has 36 career home runs, combined. This team will be more fun to watch than the exhumed corpses that started the 2009 season, but unless MLB has started counting entertainment moral victories as real wins...

Defense: The free agent signing of OF Coco Crisp (expected to miss up to the season's first eight weeks with a fractured finger) and the acquisition of 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff were made with an emphasis on run prevention. The A's are solid up the middle with Suzuki behind the plate, the eternally underrated glove work of Mark Ellis at second base and Crisp or Davis in CF. Thankfully, the comedic defensive stylings of Jason Giambi, Bobby Crosby and Adam Kennedy on the infield corners in 2009 is no more.

Starting Pitching: The A's will open with a rotation of Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez. If everyone's healthy (Sheets, Duke and Braden are all coming off of injuries) and has their head on straight (Gonzalez is wound pretty tight and can be temperamental on the field) this could be a strong set of arms. It's foolish, though, to count on universal health for a team that's had so much trouble keeping guys on the field in recent years. And, when the best case scenario for the A's $10 million ace is dealing him at the trade deadline, it's hard to get my hopes up.

Bullpen: AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey is the closer, but after that, every relievers' role will be up in the air for the season's first few weeks. 22-year-old Tyson Ross (a top 10 A's prospect, according to most accounts) breaks camp as a set-up man and Brad Ziegler's "groundballosity" will be back in the middle innings. They'll be better when Michael Wuertz (opening the season on the DL) returns and pushes one of the current bullpen question marks (Edwar Ramirez, Chad Gaudin) off the roster.

Prediction: 73-89, 4th place.


Troy said...

Why do you think the A's will win less games than in 2009?

That Bootleg Guy said...

Ummm...did you read the post :) I kid, I kid. Seriously, though, I think they'll be better at run prevention than in 2009, but I remain unsold that they'll score enough to be competitive. And, aside from Brett Anderson, I think the rest of the rotation has question marks.

I hope I'm wrong. I've enjoyed the hell out of this team after the first week.

Troy said...

But...less wins than 2009? All they've done is make upgrades.

Barton > 2009 Giambi
Pennington > 2009 Cabrera
Kouzmanoff > 2009 Kennedy/Crosby
Sheets/Duke > Eveland/Mazzaro/Mortenson/E. Gonzalez
Gio in all likelihood will perform better as his BABIP and HR/FB rates have been insanely high.
Cahill waiting in Sac.

Also, injuries aren't just the A's problem. Seattle already has Cliff Lee out. Their rotation is terrible without him. The entire Angels rotation minus Weaver has injury issues, Kazmir is already hurt, and is a ? on whether he can return to form. Every team in the division has their warts.

Most gambling sites have the A's over/under at about 78-79 wins. 73 wins is extremely pessimistic, especially for a team that had a run differential of just -2 while making upgrades at half the positions.

That Bootleg Guy said...

I think we agree that projections are just a predictive snapshot at a given point in time. That said, even if we give Vegas' collective opinion on the A's any credence (and last year, they had the A's in the 82-84 win range, FWIW) I don't think 73 wins is overly pessimistic.

Pessimistic? Sure, but a five game swing (either way) off of Vegas' 78-win expectation could be due just as much to luck, as talent.

Agreed that the AL West is a flawed division where 85 wins could win it. While I'm not bullish on the A's, I've never wanted to be more wrong.

The first week of this season - regardless of where they end up - has made up for the first three months of last season.