Series Preview: Oakland Athletics

 

2007 At-A-Glance

Run Creation AL Rank
Runs 11th
BA 13th
OBP 6th
SLG 11th
Run Prevention AL Rank
Runs Allowed 6th
Innings Pitched 4th
HR Allowed 1st
Def. Efficiency 4th

The Oakland A's last year were again hampered by major injuries, including Rich Harden, Milton Bradley, Eric Chavez, and most of their key relievers.  Oakland finished the season at 79-83, but GM Billy Beane decided to blow the team up and rebuild. Essentially, that meant anyone with more than 3-4 years of service time was traded or not re-signed, with a couple exceptions.

Important Offseason Transactions

11-1-07: Traded IF Marco Scutaro to Toronto for RHP Kristian Bell and RHP Graham Godfrey

12-14-07: Traded RHP Dan Haren and RHP Connor Robertson to Arizona for OF Carlos Gonzalez, et al.

1-3-08: Traded OF Nick Swisher to Chicago for LHP Gio Gonzalez, et al.

1-11-08: Signed OF Emil Brown to a one-year contract ($1.45M)

1-14-08: Traded OF Mark Kotsay to Atlanta for RHP Joey Devine and RHP Jamie Richmond

2-8-08: Signed RHP Keith Foulke to a one-year contract ($700K)

2-11-08: Signed 1B Mike Sweeney to a minor-league contract

Mike Piazza and Shannon Stewart also left via free agency.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The Oakland bullpen was left mostly intact, though Justin Duchscherer has been moved to the rotation. If everyone stays healthy, the leads Oakland do take into the late innings should stay intact.

The rest of the team is a big question mark. The rotation beyond Joe Blanton is pretty shaky; Rich Harden is healthy but the last time he made more than 20 starts in a season was 2005. There's a couple of gaping holes in the lineup as well - Bobby Crosby was awful at the plate in 2006 and 2007, and left and center field are being manned (for now) by Emil Brown and Ryan Sweeney, respectively.

2008 Outlook

The A's, thanks to all the trades, have brought in a lot of young talent, but most of that young talent isn't going to help this season. There are however, a couple of young players who grew up in Oakland's farm system ready to contribute. Daric Barton, who came over from St. Louis in the Mark Mulder deal, is Oakland's starting first baseman. And Kurt Suzuki, who took over for Jason Kendall mid-way through last season, is entering his first full season as starting catcher.

In many ways, this season looks similar to what the Indians went through in 2003: some youngsters, but also a lot of stopgaps to hold things down until the next wave of prospects are ready. Bobby Crosby, though he was once a key player for Oakland, has to been considered a stopgap, at least until Oakland can unload the rest of his contract. Emil Brown shouldn't be Oakland's starting left fielder for long. Mark Ellis, who's been a very valuable player for several years now, will be a free agent after the season, so he may be dealt in July. So even with all the trades last winter, there's still more turnover to go.

 

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