Thursday, March 30

Oakland A's: Moneyball's in its What Year Now?

(Disclaimer: I know the regular season has begun. Told you I've been late on these; all of these are valid for the start of the season, but lack updates. You've been warned.)

Head back to the home discussion

Starting Pitching:

Barry Zito is the stated ace. Rich Harden, however, is the practical ace. Why the difference? Well, maybe they're trying to remove pressure on Harden - or at least keep it temporarily at bay. I'm not sure. Still, though, that's how things break down - give Zito the pressure and Harden the glory. The biggest question is if Zito can rebound from a disappointing 2005 campaign.

As for the rest of the rotation, it's surprisingly deep. Esteban Loaiza was - shockingly - overpaid to come to Oakland. $7 mil a year for a third starter? All right. Maybe Billy Beane just went nuts from having money for the first time. Still, he's a solid presence in the middle of the rotation. The fourth and fifth starters are members of the all-upside pitching staff, Dan Haren and Joe Blanton.

The fun part about this staff? It kinda goes 7 deep; Kirk Saarloos and Brad Halsey are still around in case of injury. Neither is great, but they'd be 5 guys on a lot of staffs out there. Food for thought. Useful if (or when) Harden goes down.

Rough Rotation Guess:
Ace: Barry Zito
2nd: Rich Harden
3rd: Esteban Loaiza
4th: Dan Haren
5th: Joe Blanton

More information:
Barry Zito
Rich Harden
Dan Haren

Closer / Bullpen:

Huston Street was a surprise ....okay, let me clarify. Huston Street was a surprise if you've been living under a rock. Poor Kiko Calero just got toasted. That being said, Calero wasn't bad at all in a MR role, either. Heck, this bullpen in general is one of the best you'll find. Jay Witasick had a sick K/9 rate, and Justin Duscherer(erererererer) is on the totem pole of MRs just below Linebrink and Shields. This bullpen is nothing short of scary if you're the opposition.

Rough Bullpen Guess:
Closer: Huston Street
8th: Justin Duscherer
7th: Kiko Calero
Sit. Right: Jay Witasick
Sit. Lefty: uh-oh.
Mop-up: Brad Halsey


Perenially injured (but perpetually talented) Bobby Crosby will play short when healthy. He's already injured - and already delayed on his return. Exciting. Marco Scutaro gets the job when he's gone. That being said, when healthy, Crosby has at least 20-HR potential - it's just that as of now, he's unlikely to reach it. Sad.

The corner positions are quite exciting; Eric Chavez has a history of starting slowly but turning it on late; he's quietly one of the best third basemen in the league. A platoon of Dan Johnson and Nick Swisher will take first base; except Johnson to get the vast majority of the starts, as Swisher has a steady job in the outfield.

Surprisingly-good Mark Ellis starts at second base; he provides a solid average (and as a result a good OBP), more power than you'd think, and solid periphials, without any of the hype - or at least a fraction of the hype he should receive. I could be missing something there, but from what I can tell, he's certainly good stuff. His anti-stealing partner, Jason Kendall, can't possibly suck at the plate as much as he did last year.

As for the DH, this is an interesting little position; Billy Beane actually had money last year, and with that, he signed Frank Thomas. Yes, that Frank Thomas. I'm not sure what to expect from him, but when he was healthy, he could still rake it. That's all he has to do now.

Projected Infield:
C: Jason Kendall
1B: Dan Johnson
2B: Mark Ellis
SS / DL: Bobby Crosby
3B: Eric Chavez
DH(L): Frank Thomas

More information:
Jason Kendall
Dan Johnson
Mark Ellis
Bobby Crosby
Eric Chavez
Frank Thomas


Nick Swisher gets the starts in left. That is, when he's not at first. Jay Payton is the outfielder super-sub - it's odd seeing someone relatively injury-prone as a super-sub, but there you go. Mark Kotsay opens up the season as the starting center fielder.

As for right field, this is the only remotely interesting thing that changed here. Milton Bradley was signed to start there. Seems odd having him in right - especially given his injury risks -but he's there, so we'll deal.

Projected Outfield:
RF: Milton Bradley
CF: Mark Kotsay
LF: Nick Swisher

More information:
Milton Bradley
Nick Swisher

Extra Stuff:

Typical Beane team - great rotation, will suck early on then go 18-2 in August or something similar. Still, though, their rotation is excellent and their bullpen is fantastic. Their offense puts them just above the Angels, even though everything else looks similar. Good stuff. Fun times.