Saturday, February 9, 2013

Oakland Athletics 2013 Team Breakdown

Well it’s that time.  Football is done.  Pitchers and catchers are reporting.  Everyone is heading out to purchase his or her fantasy baseball magazines.  And you are wondering what your team is looking like heading into the new season.  Well I’m here to tell you with my team breakdowns.  I waited for most of the free agents to sign.  Others may sign after I talk about a team, and when that happens I’ll update the team breakdown as necessary.  Last year I started with the NL East.  This year I’ll start with the AL West.  And while I ranked teams alphabetically last year, this year I’ll rank them based on last season’s standings.  So let’s start with the AL West Champion of 2012, the Oakland Athletics.

Oakland Athletics: 
2012 Record 94-68

Projected Lineup

C-              Derek Norris
1B-            Chris Carter
2B-            Jemile Weeks
SS-            Jed Lowrie
3B-            Scott Sizemore
LF-            Yoenis Cespedes
CF-            Coco Crisp
RF-            Josh Reddick
DH-           Chris Young

Projected Batting Order

CF            Coco Crisp
2B            Jemile Weeks
RF            Josh Reddick
LF            Yoenis Cespedes
1B            Chris Carter
DH           Chris Young
SS            Jed Lowrie           
3B            Scott Sizemore           
C              Derek Norris

Starting Rotation: 
Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, Brett Anderson, A.J. Griffin and Daniel Straily

Grant Balfour (closer), Jeremy Blevins, Ryan Cook, Pat Neshek, Sean Doolittle, Pedro Figueroa and Jordan Norberto

Oakland shocked the world last season by coming out strong and playing great baseball with a young team.  In fact, most of these players were unfamiliar to anyone outside of the Bay Area.  In an offseason where the Angels spent huge money on Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson and the Texas Rangers looked to continue their AL West supremacy, the Athletics took their squad of unknowns and beat the mighty money spenders who share their division with them.  A lot of people thought they had punted on the season after trading Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill.  In addition, Billy Beane was holding out for a move to San Jose, which would do a tremendous amount to help the A’s make more money and be much more competitive than they are right now.  But the A’s took the guys they had, played good baseball behind manager Bob Melvin and won a ton of games.  The A’s are an example of how small market teams can play.  They have to be smart, draft well and develop young talent.  And that’s what the A’s do better than most teams in baseball.  They have some healthy players coming back, plus the strong core that drove them last year.  It’s hard to know how they’ll perform again, but it’s always a bad idea to bet against Brad Pitt (I mean Billy Beane).

Even though the A’s don’t have a ton of money, they do have a lot of talent, and the pleasant problem of trying to decide where everyone is going to play.  5 of the guys I listed as the starters above may not win their jobs in spring training.  And that’s only because the A’s have so many talented young players.  Chris Carter is battling Brandon Moss for the starting job at first.  Adam Rosales made a push to take over for Jemile Weeks at second.  Scott Sizemore was lost early last season to injury and Josh Donaldson had a breakout year.  The A’s traded to add Chris Young from the Diamondbacks to their roster to back up Coco Crisp in center and maybe DH.  Michael Taylor is still a talented young player out in right, but he’s certainly going to back up Josh Reddick.  Daric Barton and Seth Smith will push Chris Young for ABs at DH and the A’s made a trade for John Jaso who could spend some time behind the plate.  Even more recently they pulled an inter-division swap for SS Jed Lowrie, who will get his time at shortstop, second and perhaps his turn at DH, and give some insurance to new Japanese free agent Hiroyuki Nakajima.

The A’s were paced offensively by two breakout stars:  free agent Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes (from whom they expected great things…just not this great this soon) and right fielder Josh Reddick whom they received in a trade with the Red Sox.  Cespedes lead the team with a 292 AVG.  He was second in HR and RBI with 23 and 82 respectively.  He trailed Josh Reddick who led the team in both categories with 32 HR and 85 RBI.  If that can continue, the A’s will continue to score runs, which hasn’t always been a sure thing for them.  They also hope that a full season of Cespedes (missed 31 games due to injury), as well as full, healthy seasons from Coco Crisp and Jemile Weeks will give the top of their lineup some punch.  Crisp and Weeks have great speed and can hit for AVG (well above average AVG….that’s a confusing sentence).  Cespsdes has speed, power and can hit for high AVG and Reddick’s power can drive them all in.  Add in power from Young and Carter, and this team thinks they can compete with the big boys in their division.  The A’s team only has one legitimate star that can do it all.  But they have players who can each do a lot, and it may add up to be enough.  They have 4 players capable of 20+ SBs (Cespedes, Crisp, Weeks and Young) with their leadoff man a possible 50 SB candidate (Crisp).  6 players could break 20 HR (Cespedes, Young, Reddick, Carter, Lowrie and Donaldson) and in between they have solid guys who can get on base and keep the lineup moving.  They won’t be the Angels, but this team should score some runs.

On the mound, they were led by Jarrod Parker, who was fantastic in his rookie year.  After starting one game for the Diamondbacks the year before, he joined the A’s in the Trevor Cahill trade and became their ace.  He was tied for the team lead with 13 Wins, a 3.47 ERA and 140 Ks.  Tommy Milone was the IP leader with 190.  He chipped in a 13-10 record (tied for the team lead in Wins) with a 3.74 ERA.  They hope a full season of Brandon McCarthy will back them up as well, as he went 8-6 in 18 games with a 3.24 ERA.  That’s a strong core, with some young players that all got MLB experience filling in last year fighting for the last two rotation spots.  Competition is always good.  None of these guys are stars or power pitchers.  But all three kept their ERAs under 4 while turning in winning records.  With a solid offense and strong defense behind them, that’s a good recipe for winning games.  In the bullpen, 7 players notched a Save for Oakland last year.  The A’s are returning 6 of those guys, including the two with the most, closer Grant Balfour and set up man Ryan Cook.  Those players will nail down the back of the bullpen, while the others will be middle relievers.  All were solid in limited playing time, and the A’s hope a season of MLB experience will only help them improve.  If so, this A’s team is counting on pitching their way to the playoffs.

2013 Prediction: 
Oakland is fielding a talented young team.  They always do.  The issue with the A’s, is that they have so little money, that they can’t even keep their talented young players through arbitration it seems.  Oakland has to punt on players sooner than any other team in baseball, because they just can’t afford them.  A move to San Jose will help them.  They will make more money, and can hopefully earn enough to hang on to players a bit longer, or at least be able to sign some stars to team friendly deals, like Colorado and Tampa Bay have done.  For this season, they are returning most of the team they had last year.  That team was young, hungry and able to win the division.  A lot went right for them.  However, you can’t count on that again.  While this team is very talented, and I hold a ton of respect for them, expecting them to finish higher than third is wishful thinking.  They have the ability to do it, but they are the third best team in that division.  And I think that’s where they will end up.


  1. Correction: Brandon McCarthy is now an Arizona Diamondback. I apparently knew that when I made up the starting rotation of this team, but forgot it when I was looking at Oakland's stats. McCarthy won't be helping out this pitching staff. He'll be in Arizona, where he should excel. I'll cover that when I talk about the Diamondbacks. More to come.

  2. Oh, and Chris Carter is the player that the Astros got in return for Jed Lowrie. I didn't edit him out of this roster. Look for that to be adjusted in the Astros post. Coming soon.