2008 MLB Preview: Oakland A’s

Explanation of ratings system and other team previews here

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Ranks

Overall – 69 points (26th MLB, 11th AL)
Starting Rotation – 26 points (22nd MLB, 9th AL)
Line-Up – 29 points (26th MLB, 12th AL)
Bench/Bullpen/Defense – 14 points (T-18th MLB, T-9th AL)

Offseason Additions – Carlos Gonzalez, Dana Eveland
Offseason Subtractions – Dan Haren, Nick Swisher, Mark Kotsay, Marco Scutaro

Biggest Strength– Farm System

When you trade your best pitcher and best hitter in the same offseason, its clear that you are in rebuilding mode. However, GM Billy Beane is very good at getting good value in his trades (even though he’ll just trade the prospects away once they get good in the majors, but that’s another story). After this off-season, Baseball Prospectus has then ranked as the 2nd best farm system in league, behind only the ridiculous Rays system. Daric Barton, Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez could have the A’s competitive again in a couple years.

Biggest Weakness– Offense

There is just not much here that is going to scare opposing pitchers. Eric Chavez could almost be categorized as a below-average offensive third-baseman at this point. SS Bobby Crosby, once mentioned as an MVP candidate, has never lived up to the hype. They have plenty of young players including Barton, Gonzalez, Kurt Suzuki and Travis Buck who could step and surprise, but none of them have proven they can perform consistently yet.

Key Player in ’08– Rich Harden

Harden has never pitched 200 inning in a single season, and hasn’t even pitched 150 since 2004. However, when he does pitch, he’s a true ace. In his 2nd full year (2005), Harden was on his way to a potential Cy Young (10-5, 2.46 ERA, 121 K in 128 IP) when he got hurt. He has only pitched 72 innings in the last two years combined. However, he is pitching in spring training and appears to be healthy. He’s 26, so he can certainly come back from injury, if he does so this year, it will be a big boost to the A’s (or just give Beane someone new to trade).

Player to Keep an Eye On– Daric Barton

Barton was the key piece in the Mark Mulder deal a couple years ago. He has been the top prospect in the A’s system since then and hit .347 with 4 HR in 74 ABs with the big league squad last year. This will be his first full year in the majors and it will be very interesting to see what kind of numbers he can put up.

Outlook/Prediction– 3rd Place, AL West. The A’s missed their chance with Hudson, Mulder, Zito, Giambi and Tejada and are now in full fledged rebuilding mode. Billy Beane is a good talent evaluator so it’s possible they will have a resurgence in a couple years. As for 2008, if everything goes right for the A’s, they will be a .500 team, but if they young players have growing pains and Harden can’t get on the mound it could very well be a long season.

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