The A's Add Depth, Hope For 2014

Published: Dec 24, 2013 12:30pm EST
By JasonNeal, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Dec 24, 2013 @ 12:30pm EST

 

The Oakland Athletics have been one of the more active teams this offseason, acquiring the likes of Scott Kazmir, Luke Gregorson, and Jim Johnson.  The A’s also have traded Twitter fan favorite, Brett Anderson, and allowed Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour to walk away.  This much change might seem like there is restlessness in Oakland’s front office, but Billy Beane & Co. have a storied history of flipping players that have been fan favorites in order to make the team better.  These trades, releases, or non-signings have not always worked out in the best possible way (see Andre Ethier:Milton Bradley or Jason Giambi’s success after leaving the Bay Area), but more often than not, Billy Beane has pulled the right string at the right time. 

Consider that Gio Gonzalez was traded for Derek Norris, Tommy Milone, and two other players or Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow who were traded to Arizona for current starter Jarrod Parker and reliever Ryan Cook.  Cahill has had limited success since being traded to the Diamondbacks, and while Gio Gonzalez is an undeniable talent, the A’s have an incredible ability to keep their starting rotation and farm system ripe full of capable starters.

Going into this offseason, the A’s had seven…yes, seven capable starting pitching options if they brought Colon back to Oakland.  The A’s would have been able to trot out Brett Anderson, Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker, Colon, Milone, Dan Straily, and AJ Griffin on any given day and have faith and confidence that they would be given a chance to win the game.  With the signing of Kazmir, the emergence of Sonny Gray, and the contract that Bartolo would have garnered, Billy decided he was confident in letting Colon walk, trading away Anderson, and letting the young guns handle the pitching duties.  

Griffin and the rest of the starters have some work to do in order to be the best in baseball, but that isn’t saying much because this staff is supremely talented and with some minor tweaks could take this team deep into October.  Griffin gave up 36 dingers last year, 26 more than his rookie season, Milone is not listed as a starter on ESPN’s depth chart or Oakland’s website itself (www.oaklandathletics.com).  If Sonny Gray can be as great as he was in game 2 of the Divisional Series against the Detroit Tigers, the A’s have a legitimate stud as an ace.  With Jarrod Parker adding innings, he needs to get back to where he was in his first season with the A’s and if Kazmir can be the Tampa Bay version as opposed to the Los Angeles version, the A’s are set at the starting pitcher position.

Beane also added bullpen depth in spades this year, trading for Luke Gregorson and Jim Johnson; the latter leads the majors in saves during the past two seasons.  Beane traded Seth Smith and Jemile Weeks, respectively, but the A’s seem to be striking while the iron is hot and trying to get over the proverbial hump. 

The A’s have had a hard time getting past the Detroit Tigers in the past two postseasons, but with Josh Donaldson ranking second in WAR, the addition of Alberto Callaspo via trade, and the emergence of Brandon Moss and other key contributors, the A’s are not far away from a return to glory. 

Health concerns with Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick derailed the team during a few rough stretches in 2013, but when those two are right, either one of them could hold the A’s on their shoulders and carry them for a few games.  Reddick saw a significant dip in production from his 2012 campaign, but his defense was still phenomenal and he has an incredible connection with the fans.  Yoenis Cespedes became a household name, even though many people, looking at you Chris Berman, had a hard time pronouncing it before he put on a show in New York during the Home Run Derby.  Cespedes’ legend continued to grow as Bay Area media members raved about the display of power he showed during batting practice.  The A’s opened the gates early for their fans on Friday home games which gave the fans a chance to see Cespedes hit a baseball to places that no man should ever be able to reach with a bat.

The A’s look to continue their winning ways in the competitive AL West, but with the Seattle Mariners adding Robinson Cano and already having a formidable pitching rotation, the Texas Rangers adding Shin Soo-Choo, and the Los Angeles Angels always being able to be competitive, it looks like they are in for a fun ride with some incredible games against some top level competition.  Is it baseball season yet?


 

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JasonNeal
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