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A’s Offseason: Was There Really a Plan?

February 19, 2012

I’ve read countless commentaries regarding the A’s offseason. I’ve agreed with some, and I’ve disagreed with others. But one thing I think is overlooked, is whether moves are good or whether moves are bad is there one coherent plan to this offseason? I have to think no. There was some sort of shift in the New Year, that went into this reloading, not just for a year but for some undefined period because let’s look at what this team could look like and while we’re at it, let’s also go with the assumption they add Manny Ramirez (I think the Koji Uehara rumors are frequent enough that this likely gets done too but it is further down the way, so we’ll omit those) that will mean this offseason the A’s will have added:

Yoenis Cespedes ($6.5M)
Bartolo Colon ($2.0M)
Ryan Cook ($0.5M)
Collin Cowgill ($0.5M)
Coco Crisp ($6.0M)
Jonny Gomes ($1.0M)
Tommy Milone ($0.5M)
Derek Norris ($0.5M)
Jarrod Parker ($0.5M)
Brad Peacock ($0.5M)
Manny Ramirez ($0.5M)
Josh Reddick ($0.5M)
Seth Smith ($2.4M)

Those guys we added represented a rough total (I rounded) $21.9M. Let’s compare that to what we let go in terms of players who we had years of control left with but let go, so guys like Hideki Matsui or Josh Willingham would not be included.

Guys the A’s let go (and their 2012 salaries) are:

Andrew Bailey ($3.9M)
Craig Breslow ($1.8M)
Trevor Cahill ($3.7M)
Gio Gonzalez ($3.3M)
Guillermo Moscoso ($0.5M)
Josh Outman ($0.5M)
Ryan Sweeney ($1.8M)

That’s a grand total of $15.5M, less than the $21.9M we have added altogether in the trades and free-agent signings since. So what if we didn’t do those trades?

I loved the Cahill trade as I don’t believe he is that great and we got a potential ace in Parker. I loved the Gio trade because we got back all these great prospects. But pitching wasn’t ever our problem. Those moves were clearly made to assemble an All-Star staff come 2015. They didn’t do anything to make the 2012 club move competitive. The Andrew Bailey trade one can argue filled a need in the outfield but by trading away Ryan Sweeney, sort of didn’t do that either. That trade too hinges largely upon what sort of pitcher Raul Alcantara becomes one day.

Those trades stand in stark contrast to what Oakland has done in January when they acquired talent that made the club better in 2012 but not necessarily in some cases, in 2015. What if there was one coherent plan, to compete in 2012? Could the A’s have competed?

Let’s say they don’t trade Cahill or Gonzalez that’s $7M they have now, of course that means we also have Breslow still so its a total of just under $9M. Offset that by not re-signing Coco Crisp and probably not needing Bartolo Colon anymore then there is Cook and Cowgill’s combined $1M. Financially we have basically a tie. Bailey and Sweeney for Reddick can still fit within the context of competing in 2012, especially if the A’s do go out and get a Uehara type so we’ll leave that trade be. The trade to acquire Seth Smith helps Oakland compete in 2011 so that stays. The free-agent signing of Cespedes of course stays as do those of Gomes and Ramirez.

Now we have a rotation that looks like this:

1. Gio Gonzalez
2. Trevor Cahill
3. Brandon McCarthy
4. Dallas Braden
5. Graham Godfrey/Tyson Ross

Certainly a lot more depth than what we have right now. Not much for the future, but Oakland hasn’t ever had trouble developing pitchers before. The lineup really doesn’t look that different. An outfield of Smith-Cespedes-Reddick, with Gomes and Michael Taylor/Brandon Allen as backups. The infield remains the same (now Brandon Allen being more valuable as if he loses a first-base job to Daric Barton he plays some in left field) as does catcher. The bullpen might be a little bit different and require some shoring up, but with three lefties now (Blevins, Breslow and Fuentes) we can deal one of them to get some more right-handed help or perhaps a #5 starter type. After all this we could still decide to sign Colon of course too. This isn’t radically more expensive but suddenly we have a team that while still not great or on par with Los Angeles or Texas, also looks a lot better.

But this hasn’t been a coherent offseason, so we are sort of stuck with this in-between team, part future/part present. Maybe there is a plan and I fail to recognize it. Let’s hope so.

This identical post was cross-posted this morning as my regular Sunday post on Athletics Nation. I encourage all my readers to go there to share their thoughts and opinions as it is a great big community of passionate A’s fans.

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