There’s some talent here and the A’s deserve credit for opening up as much playing time as possible for their younger players, at least until Manny Ramirez returns from suspension and takes a few at-bats, but the hilarity that ensue will be a nice consolation prize. The most interesting player is obviously Cuban defector Yeonis Cespedes. I’m still not entirely sure that he’ll be at the major league level all season long but while he’s there, it will be fun to see what kind of every day player he is at the age of 26. While he did struggle with the breaking ball in his first two major league games last week, he jacked the first home of his career and his raw power was on display.
Eric Sogard and his stylish glasses will get a chance to prove themselves at third to start the year and Brandon Allen will finally get more than 200 major league at-bats to prove himself after mashing in the minors. After coming over from Boston in the Andrew Bailey deal Josh Reddick will be Oakland’s everyday right fielder this season. He’s not a top level player but I think he can be a 20 homer (.180 ISO) guy for the A’s while playing some plus defense in the field. Then there’s Jemile Weeks, whom I’ve liked since draft day. His .300 average as a rookie was a great sign and he’s already a plus defender. If he can continue to get on base at a high rate we’ll be looking at a special player.
This group will struggle to score runs this season but there is some upside here going forward.
Hit the jump for the rest of Mark’s preview…
I’m as excited as anyone to see how Jarrod Parker performs this season. Parker was the centerpiece of the Trevor Cahill deal and this year will be his first season in the big leagues. Parker hasn’t had dominant numbers during his pro career and he’ll be the fifth starter in this rotation, so there’s still some growing left for him, but getting a chance to see his stuff against major league bats will be fun. Brandon McCarthy might be the most unheralded ace in baseball and he’ll be the top end starter for the A’s this season with Gio Gonzalez and Cahill gone. McCarthy led the American League in FIP last season with an excellent 2.86 mark. After a strong performance against the Mariners in Japan there’s reason to believe that Bartolo Colon can be more than just an innings eater this season; he could be an effective innings eater. And one of those could net a prospect at the deadline if a contender is desperate enough. Knowing Brad Pitt, he’ll pull off a deal.
Andrew Bailey is gone which leaves this unit without a dominant arm. That said, almost all of the returning relief arms had sub-4 FIPs last season, which is good. Veteran Grant Balfour is the closer right now but if he has a repeat of last season and allows 1.16 homers per nine innings, we may see a guy like Fautino De Los Santos get the role. Admittedly, De Los Santos doesn’t have the greatest HR/9, either, but his 11.61 K/9 rate and 3.26 xFIP make him a solid option.
The Athletics are in a perpetual state of rebuilding. Even my mom knows about the market inefficiencies Billy Beane was once able to exploit, so I’d say it’s time to find something new. For now, Oakland is biding time until it can become San Jose.
My favorites in the system are Jarrod parker (who was acquired for Trevor Cahill this off season) and Michael Choice (who has enough raw pop to hit 35 homers one day). Both players are not without concerns. Parker has struggled with control since returning from Tommy John surgery. Choice’s violent swing has a lot of built in swing and miss. I like Parker as a good #2 starter and Choice to profile as a player similar to Yoenis Cespedes.
While after those two the system isn’t exceptional it sure as hell is interesting. Slow to develop bats like Chris Carter, Brandon Allen and Michael Taylor are at a point in their careers where it is time to take care of business or be left behind. Once heralded Dominican signee Michael Ynoa needs to find a way to stay healthy. He’s pitched a total of just three starts in just three years as a pro. It will be a fun system to keep tabs on.
Guy to explode: 20 year old righty AJ Cole who has the raw talent to be a top of the rotation started one day.
Guy I like more than everyone else: Derek Norris who has the best secondary skills I have ever seen in a prospect. Go look at Mickey Tettleton’s career line. That’s reasonable to expect from Norris.
Guy I like less than everyone else: Two guys, Grant Green and Brad Peacock. I have never seen an above average tool from Green and think he’ll be a nice bench guy while I have serious concerns about Peacock’s ability to handle a starter’s work load.
Ridiculousness: Three of the four guys I have mentioned in this section were acquired in exchange for Gio Gonzalez during the office season.