The A’s

Dave · December 20, 2004 at 6:38 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Perhaps the most interesting story of the offseason so far has been the roster reconstruction going on down in Oakland. Billy Beane is obviously the most high profile GM in the game and has developed a reputation for building young, successful teams that aren’t quite good enough to win the World Series. After missing the playoffs for the first time in five years, Beane proceeded to overhaul the core of his team. Gone are Damian Miller (age 35), Jermaine Dye (30), Chris Hammond (38), Jim Mecir (34), Mark McLemore (40), Mark Redman (30), Athur Rhodes (35), Tim Hudson (29), and Mark Mulder (27). That’s nearly 40 percent of last years roster and about $31 million in payroll, more than half of Oakland’s budget for 2005.

In return, Beane has brought in Kiki Calero (29), Juan Cruz (26), Dan Haren (24), Tyler Johnson (23), Dan Meyer (23), Jason Kendall (30), Keith Ginter (28), Charlie Thomas (25), Deric Barton (19). The difference in ages from the players shipped out versus received is striking, and the payroll difference is just as large. The combined payroll for the eight new major leaguers is about $13 million. Not only did the A’s get significantly younger, but they have shaved about $19 million off the 2005 payroll.

So, what have the A’s done to their actual team with these moves?


In reality, it looks the ’05 offense, right now, should be about the same as the ’04 offense, perhaps just slightly better. Jason Kendall should be a step up from Damian Miller, Keith Ginter will be better than Marco Scutaro, but Nick Swisher should be about the same as Jermaine Dye was last year. They could see improved performance from Bobby Crosby, though it’s just as likely that Erubiel Durazo slides back a bit to offset that increase. Overall, it’s hard to see a dramatic change either way. It’s still a league average offense with a line-up of solid hitters but only one superstar in the middle of the order.


The defense will most likely be worse in 2005 than it was in 2004. Jason Kendall’s not the defensive catcher than Damian Miller is. Keith Ginter, as a second baseman, makes a nice hitter. Nick Swisher isn’t much of an asset in the outfield. The decline probably isn’t huge, but it’s there.


Obviously, this is the big change. Gone are Hudson, Mulder, and Redman, who combined for 606 innings last year. However, despite their reputations, they posted a solid but not spectacular 4.23 ERA. The average AL ERA was 4.63, so as a group, they were about 10 percent better than average. If the rest of the staff had matched the performances of those three, the A’s 4.23 ERA would have ranked 4th in the American League, slightly worse than the 4.17 ERA (second in the league) the team actually managed. Despite all the hand wringing about moving Hudson and Mulder, they weren’t the main cogs in the 2004 A’s, and the A’s aren’t losing superstar performances from the 60 percent of the rotation they traded away.

However, they are replacing 600 above average innings with Dan Haren, Dan Meyer, and Joe Blanton. I’ve been a big fan of Haren and Meyer and they are two of the better young pitchers in the game, despite not having overwhelming stuff. However, Haren has yet to establish himself at the major league level, posting an ERA 14 percent below league average during his 118 innings over the past two seasons. He looked like he was ready to turn the corner as the season wore down, however, and if he stays healthy, I think he’s a solid bet to be league average or so in 2005. Meyer and Blanton are a bit sketchier; neither has proven that they are major league ready, and the A’s are taking a pretty big risk counting on them to take the hill every 5th day. I think Meyer’s the better of the two, but I’m not sold on either one keeping their jobs all season long. I’d expect the A’s will eventually get something like 400 innings from this trio, posting an ERA around 10 percent below league average. The A’s will have to hope for 200 innings from other sources, so I’m projecting the three spots vacated by Mulder, Hudson, and Redman to give up about 340 runs next year, as opposed to the 285 they surrended in 2004. 55 runs is a significant downgrade. Barring huge gains from Rich Harden or a return for Cy Young form by Barry Zito, the A’s rotation will likely cost the A’s about 4 or 5 games in the standings, compared to the 2004 version.


Perhaps the overlooked part of these deals have been the tremendous, cheap relievers the A’s have been accumulating. Their bullpen is perhaps the best, and arguably the deepest, in baseball right now. Dotel, Cruz, Calero, and Duchscherer from the right side with Rincon and Johnson as the lefties. On the outskirts looking in are Chad Bradford, Jairo Garcia, Huston Street, Chris Mabeus, and Seth Etherton. That second group that they don’t have room for might just make up a league average bullpen in 2005. The A’s have arms on top of arms coming out of the pen, and they shouldn’t have nearly the same problems protecting leads that they did in 2004. Expect a 2-3 win improvement from the bullpen for the A’s.

Overall, the current roster looks to be about 2-3 wins worse than last years model, plus lacks the “security” of having proven innings eaters in the rotation. However, for that downgrade, the A’s have stockpiled tremendous depth, gotten significantly younger, and freed up around $20 million in payroll. And he got Deric Barton, who will probably be a significant part of the A’s line-up in 2007 or so. That kid can really mash.


On an individual move by move basis, I’ll admit that I was a bit perplexed by Beane’s moves, but taking a step back and looking at it from a macro level, it looks like he’s setup himself up to have another successful offseason. The A’s have money to spend, and I’d be stunned if they weren’t in on J.D. Drew right now. If they manage to acquire a significant bat to improve the offense or another arm for the rotation, it looks like the A’s will again be a 88-92 win team. Only this 88-92 win team will be built of young players entering their prime rather than players who have experienced success and are heading towards big paydays and possible decline.

To those projecting the A’s to finish last in the AL West, I suggest you take another look at the roster. This is far from a bad team. There are some calculated risks in the pitching rotation, though the ridiculous depth of the bullpen should counteract some of that. The A’s are one more good player away from being about as good a team as they were last year, and they’ve got plenty of money to bring that player in. The A’s won’t be the same team they were last year, but I’ll be surprised if they don’t come pretty close to matching last years win total.


34 Responses to “The A’s”

  1. Nikku on December 20th, 2004 6:42 pm

    I don’t see them getting Drew. I think he is just too expensive for the A’s. Doesn’t he want 12 to 14 million a year?

  2. Shoeless Jose on December 20th, 2004 6:48 pm

    Great analysis — this is why I keep coming back here (especially when you see some of the stuff thrown up by the experts. Of course I hope you’re wrong and the A’s implode and Beane looks foolish, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Particularly when he has the budget to shop for more bats. And don’t forget the money set aside for that July signing that always seems to thrown them into high gear for the second half of the season.

    Given all the arms in the bullpen (most of whom I know little about) do you think any of them might be groomed for a 5th starting spot?

    Off-topic news: everybody’s other favorite former center fielder isn’t going to make opening day.

  3. tvwxman on December 20th, 2004 6:53 pm

    Didn’t realize all that $$ that Beane freed up. I said that it was a case of him rebuilding maybe a year too early than a year too late. And even if they struggle and are a .500 team this season, it was the smart thing to do in the long haul. They’re getting younger and also keeping their starters around for a longer time.

    If they don’t get a bat like Drew this winter, they may be a 3rd or 4th place team. But I’d be surprised if they didn’t win 90+ again by 2007.

  4. Digger on December 20th, 2004 6:53 pm

    Good analysis. It was just announced that the As signed or tendered 8 guys including Durazo, Dotel, Bradford, and Byrnes. I figure those 8 will use up most ($14M?) of the money Billy has left ($17M?) for 05. Even another $5M wouldn’t get them into the Drew sweepstakes.

  5. Ty on December 20th, 2004 6:55 pm

    Yeah. I think the A’s either broke even or got better. Although A’s fans are mad, if I were an A’s fan, I wouldn’t be. At first it was kinda odd, getting rid of Mulder and Hudson, but now it makes perfect sense. Thanks Dave. You have cleared a couple things up for me, that I really didn’t want to be cleared up because at first I was thinking the A’s would really stink, but hey, more competition I guess.

  6. tede on December 20th, 2004 6:57 pm

    I agree with #1, they’re not getting Drew.

    SFGate had an article this weekend stating that portions (Hoffman’s share) of the team were for sale, mentioned a specific buyer who also would take over active control from Schott. The prospective buyer was a semi-insider already involved in their stadium search. If true, this could explain the temporary salary dump: to clean up the books so that the club is insured of breaking even until the paperwork & approvals are finalized.

    Billy Beane’s past record on the bullpen (thinking that Billy Koch and Arthur Rhodes were viable closers for a pennant contending team) makes me a little less optimistic on whether he’s improved the A’s that much in this area.

  7. tede on December 20th, 2004 7:03 pm

    #2 Looks like Mike Cameron just pulled a Kazu (or Shaq) and delayed needed surgery until very late in the off-season. (I would have bet money that the URL was going to be about Griffey.)

  8. Jim Thomsen on December 20th, 2004 7:15 pm

    I agree that the A’s won’t seriously decline, but I don’t look at their roster makeup right now and see “AL West Champions” stamped on it.

    My subjective but somewhat informed thoughts:

    1. I think a lot of people want to believe in a big bounceback year from Barry Zito … but Barry Zito hasn’t been Zitoriffic for two seasons now, and I can’t see any reason he’ll be anything more than a league-average pitcher on balance — one with a great curve who is going to get killed from time to time. Pay very close attention early in the season to his K/IP and W/K ratios.

    2. Scott Hatteberg’s performance, I think we can all agree, was a huge surprise in 2004. But can he sustain it at 35? I rather doubt it. If both he and Durazo — who really can’t play first — take a step back into negative VORPland, that leaves black holes at two offensive positions.

    3. I flat-out don’t believe in Dan Haren. I think he is going to throw some good games but be wildly inconsistent on balance. He seems to work up in the strike zone more than a bit, from what I’ve seen of him on TV and what I’ve heard others say, and could lead the league in HRs allowed — if Jamie Moyer or Ryan Franklin doesn’t do it. A weakened defense behind him can only hurt.

    4. I think Jason Kendall will get hurt and either miss a lot of playing time — or have the kind of pains, like Hatteberg, that won’t allow him to catch anymore. The A’s don’t have any B plan at catcher right now, and will probably have to use Adam Melhuse and some anonymous dumpster-dive like Gregg Zaun or Brent Mayne or Todd Greene much more than they’d like. And no, Jeremy Brown is not a consideration.

    5. I will be stunned if Beane pulls off a J.D. Drew signing … for the reason someone else here mentioned. He’s got money … but does he have J.D. Drew money? I don’t think so. (Though I suspect every day J.D. Drew doesn’t sign is a day in which is value slips a bit in the already-peaked free-agent market — he could be had for $8.5 million a year or so if it drags out too much longer.) I think Beane is more likely to pull off a crafty deal like the one Dave put for a while back … Austin Kearns or somebody like that. Aubrey Huff, maybe.

    I think Dave’s dead-on about the bullpen, though I doubt it will look like it does now by Opening Day. This is a team that has been masterfully reconstructed under great pressure and horrific restraints by Beane … but I think it just won’t be good enough. I see an 87-win season. This year, that might be good enough to win the West, because Seattle hasn’t made itself that much better … and California and Texas have treaded water at best … and more likely regressed a little.

    Or something.

  9. Kirby on December 20th, 2004 7:41 pm

    As an A’s fan(*), I’d agree with this analysis. People who’ve run the numbers using various methods keep coming up with the same conclusions – things didn’t change much. Some methods actually put the expected wins of the post-trade A’s ahead, but the authors of those pieces express skepticism at how good various systems predict Blanton in particular to be in 2005. But the point remains – Hudson and Mulder weren’t as good in 2004 as people think (Mulder had an utter collapse in September), and the bullpen upgrades are better than people realize.

    Emotionally, it’s hard – we loved those guys. They’re both likable, successful, and moderately humble players. But I’m sure all of you guys know it’s possible to lose some superstars and still have a good year or two left in you. 🙂 You grow attached to folks, beyond the numbers. But these trades do have baseball sense.

    * Yes, I’m an A’s fan, and I read this blog. I also like the Mariners. I live in the Seattle area now (I used to live in the Bay Area). Yes, this is sometimes difficult, but being human is all about balancing difficult contradictions sometimes. I enjoyed that brief window where the A’s and Mariners both made the playoffs.

    ** And, if any of you are really curious at the A’s equivalent of U.S.S. Mariner, and see what the Oakland fans are thinking, that’d be It’s not _quite_ the same thing – the founders don’t have the writing skills of this crew – but the ability for anyone to write up diary entries makes it a stronger breadth of community. And surprisingly high, given my general experience with baseball fandom on the uncharted regions of the Internet. The general audience is mostly friendly to the “Moneyball” phenomenon, and knows what the Baseball Prospectus is.

  10. Jim on December 20th, 2004 7:56 pm

    Tede, how can you possibly use Koch as an example for how Beane poorly uses closers? Koch was successful during his one season with the A’s(unless 93 innings of 142 ERA+ and 44 saves is bad). Then, Beane flipped him for Foulke, who worked out pretty well. Beane thought Rhodes would bounce back to his dominant form, but Rhodes got hurt for much of the year.

    Jim Thomsen, I don’t think there is any way Durazo is even below average at DH. Yes, his hit rate was unusually high for him, but his power and patience were unusually low. He should regress some, but not much.

    I agree with you more than I do with Dave about Haren. Last year was the only time he had an above average K-rate, and while he’s always had good control, the HR rate, especially in AAA, scares me.

  11. Graham on December 20th, 2004 8:29 pm

    Tede, saying that because Oakland’s pen once called Arthur Rhodes its closer means that Calero et. al are doubtful is like saying that Adrian Beltre isn’t really an upgrade at 3rd because Cirillo once played there. That bullpen is downright frightening, and I suspect the rotation will improve drastically over the next couple of years.

  12. tede on December 20th, 2004 8:48 pm

    #10 When would Arthur ever bounce back to be a dominant closer? Fans in Seattle & Baltimore would like to know that. Billy overpaid Arthur and trying to make him the closer doesn’t justify it.

    #11 Rhodes flopped before in the job. Cirillo hadn’t. There were a lot more predictions of failure for Rhodes than Cirillo.

    Billy’s been hot to trot to sign ex-M’s in the past: McLemore (offered more money than the M’s did in his last deal) Cameron (supposedly offered more than the Mets did), and now Rhodes. If you land the guy and it works out, you’ve made yourself stronger and your division opponent weaker. IMO, this belief overrode the “buyer beware” warning signs in Rhodes 2003 performance.

    I give Billy lots of credit for turning the Koch mistake into Foulke. Too bad he couldn’t keep Foulke.

  13. Adam J. Morris on December 20th, 2004 8:56 pm

    So Dave, if the A’s are still in the hunt, who do you see pulling up the rear in the A.L. West…your Mariners or my Rangers?

  14. Deanna on December 20th, 2004 9:22 pm

    #13 – I got laughed at for saying it at the pizza feed, but I actually expect the Rangers to finish ahead of the Mariners. I think they’ve gotten great value out of their farm system, and have some awesome young players who are just getting better, and just need to get some more pitching (are they also in the running for Perez and/or Miller?). If we’re assuming the Mariners are an 80ish-win team next year, and the Rangers haven’t changed that much (“treading water”, huh?), then they’d be an 85-90ish-win team again, right?

  15. Matt Staples on December 20th, 2004 9:34 pm

    The common misperception is that the Rangers have a great offense. Their ballpark masks the fact that, at least last year, their offense wasn’t good at all. Like was said at the feed, they’d be great if only infields counted, but that’s not the case.

  16. Jon Wells on December 20th, 2004 9:41 pm

    I also thought that the move to trade Hudson (and later Mulder) was to free up money to get someone like Drew but the Bay Area papers all have Beane saying that he had to make these trades to get “under budget”, that getting Kendall put them in that position. If that’s the case, trading for Kendall wasn’t such a hot move. I really don’t see any way Oakland can contend next year with rookies subbing for 2 of the top pitchers in the league…

  17. Dave on December 20th, 2004 10:07 pm


    Mulder wasn’t one of the top pitchers in the league last year. His 4.43 ERA was barely above average.

    Right now, I’m not sure I see a clear cut favorite for any spot in the division. Anaheim looks like the best team, but I’m not planning a division championship party around a rotation of Bartolo Colon, Kelvim Escobar, John Lackey, Jarrod Washburn, and Paul Byrd. The M’s obviously still have their issues, and Texas’ rotation is one of the worst in the league.

  18. A's fan on December 20th, 2004 10:19 pm

    good analysis. there was, however, one correction that needs to be made. you said Nick Swisher is not an asset in the outfield, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Nick Swisher will be one of the better corner outfielders in the majors next year. He’s a lot like Darin Erstad, in that he’s probably capable of winning a gold glove at first. Unlike Erstad, he doesn’t play gold glove centerfield (he played centerfield pretty well for sacramento, his one deficiency being range), but he just might play gold glove left field one day. at any rate, the worst he’ll be is a notch below the GG’ers.

    anyway, carry on.

  19. LoveRhombus on December 20th, 2004 10:25 pm

    All I’d like to say is great post. Obviously, I come to USS Mariner because of its Mariners information. But I also really like it when you guys post stuff about the goings-on in the rest of the league. If you can find time, I’d love to see more posts from time to time about analysis of what other teams are doing. Of course, still focus on the Mariners. But great post.

  20. Dave on December 20th, 2004 10:31 pm

    Nick Swisher will be one of the better corner outfielders in the majors next year…

    I disagree. I’ve seen him play quite a bit, and his instincts and reactions in the outfield leave a lot to be desired. He’s just not very quick, either. If you have some evidence to support your claim, I’d love to hear it.

    (he played centerfield pretty well for sacramento, his one deficiency being range)

    Which is kind of like saying my deficincies as a major league player are hitting, fielding, throwing, and running.

    at any rate, the worst he’ll be is a notch below the GG’ers.

    I believe he’ll be a significant step back from Jermaine Dye defensively. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was one of the worst defensive corner outfielders in the game. Obviously, we disagree.

  21. mike on December 20th, 2004 11:34 pm

    The Rangers could roll out a rotation/bullpen of young pitchers who don’t suck. I saw the following players with Okie City last year, and I think all could be decent major league pitchers in 2005: Chris Young, Kameron Loe, and Travis Hughes. Also, Sam Narron is a junkballing lefty who might get some people out.

  22. Joshua Buergel on December 20th, 2004 11:34 pm

    #13 – I got laughed at for saying it at the pizza feed, but I actually expect the Rangers to finish ahead of the Mariners.

    Nothing like arguing with your real life friends on an online forum. Anyway, the thing that’s easy to overlook in analyzing the AL west is that things “should” have been much tighter than they were last year. While I don’t completely buy Clay Davenport’s Adjusted Wins, I think they’re a better starting point for looking at a team than the actual won-lost record from the year before. And in terms of adjusted wins, the Mariners missed their projection by more than 12 wins. Which is a truly brutal performance, and one that’s unlikely to repeat. The Rangers, meanwhile, played about six runs over their heads.

    In terms of adjusted wins, there were only 8 wins worth of difference in the way the two teams played. That matches up much closer to what people thought of the teams going in to the season, and I’m more inclined to believe that reflects the underlying quality. Everything that could have gone against the Mariners did, pretty much, while the Rangers caught some breaks.

    Sure, the Rangers have an excellent infield. But now you can’t even say they’re blowing the doors off the Mariners there, and the M’s outfield is clearly better (although Hidalgo helps their cause). And which pitching staff do you take home? It’s easy to look at Blalock, Teixeira, Soriano and Young and get blinded by the star power. But they don’t have much past that, and they’re going to need someone to join Kenny Rogers and Ryan Drese as effective starters, not to mention a good year from Hidalgo.

  23. Jim Thomsen on December 20th, 2004 11:59 pm

    I generally agree with those who believe the disparity between the top team and the fourt team in the AL West is not all that much. Based on how the rosters look at this millisecond, I would put it at: 1. Oakland, 87 wins; 2. Texas, 85; 3. Anaheim, 80; 4. Seattle, 78. But it could easily be tighter than that, and the order could shuffle.

    Deanna … I never said the Rangers wouldn’t be good. But it can’t be argued that they’ve done a whole lot to improve themselves, either. David Dellucci is nobody’s idea of an impact player. Richard Hidalgo could be wonderful, though. But Rod Barajas is a terrible idea as a No. 1 catcher, Chan Ho Park is just waiting to suck and the team is fiddle-farting around with too many starting pitchers in the John Wasdin-Nick Bierbrodt category.

    The infield is a dream … on par with that great Milwaukee infield of the late 70s and early 80s: Cecil Cooper, Jim Gantner, Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. Or Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey for those of you with longer memories.

    A so-so outfield, a godlike infield, flaccid starting pitching and a bullpen that’s better than average. To me, that says 85 wins.

  24. Deanna on December 21st, 2004 2:01 am

    Well, yeah, I’ll totally admit Texas’s pitching is awful. They did come out of the winter meetings saying they want to add two more starting pitchers and were going to wait to see which pitchers were non-tendered and examine their choices then for middle-price decent arms. There’s still a few out there, so who knows what moves they may make in that area. I don’t think they’re going to blow big money on pitching, which might be a mistake, but I’d be surprised if they don’t pick up some pitching this winter. Even if it’s someone like Aaron Sele or Derek Lowe.

    And I dunno. If Colbrunn stays healthy this year he could lend them some pretty good offense, and Sandy Alomar might be good for helping some of their pitchers out.

    I’m not saying that Texas is going to take the AL West, I’m just saying that I don’t think they’re that bad, and they have potential. I guess it’ll come down to whether they do anything about their pitching. So, we’ll see.

  25. Jon Wells on December 21st, 2004 2:11 am

    Dave — No, a 4.43 ERA wouldn’t make him one of the best pitchers in the league. He had a miserable second half, but for the previous 3 seasons he was one of the top pitchers in the league and in the first half of ’04 looked like a runaway Cy Young winner. Maybe the A’s spotted something in the second half and don’t believe he’ll return to form but I fail to see how they can just put a couple of rookies in the spots of Hudson and Mulder and not expect there to be a huge dropoff in the club’s performance. As we all know very few rookies pitchers come into the league and dominate right away, most of them struggle a bit and some fail miserably (see Blackley, Travis).

    In my opinion, those rookies are gonna be have to be pretty darn good right away for Oakland to win more than 85 games.

  26. Scott G. on December 21st, 2004 7:37 am

    I’m sorry, when I look at the A’s I just don’t see a good team right now. 85 wins is probably the best they can do. More likely to end up in the 80 range.

    I completely understand A’s fans who are upset. You can base these trades on the 2004 numbers of Hudson and Mulder but I expect big bounce-back campaigns in Atlanta and St. Louis respectively. It’s going to be real hard for an A’s fan to watch that and not wonder “What could have been?”.

    There are also intangibles like experience, maturity, and being able to lead in the clubhouse. Oakland has largely been successful due to the big 3 which created a solid backbone for everything else they did. Knowing that those 3 would go out there and give you a chance to win is pretty uplifting. There’s very little chance that Haren and Meyer will be able to come right in and even produce league average numbers.

    All this being said though, Billy Beane didn’t have much of a choice. He’s totally hamstrung with his payroll and can’t afford to lose Hudson and Mulder for nothing (although he should have been able to keep Mulder for 1 more year). This is the curse of being an A’s fan. I personally don’t think the A’s will compete for the AL West title for at least 3 or 4 years…maybe much longer.

  27. simon on December 21st, 2004 9:26 am

    Re: Meyer and Blanton. Dave, did you mean ERA about 10% ABOVE league average? Little bit confusing. Otherwise, good analysis. Dotel is a fucking stud. I’m guessing they win 75 games this year, most of those coming in the second half, because of all the inexperience.

  28. BB on December 21st, 2004 10:25 am

    #25 is right about Mulder, and I think Dave’s analysis looked too much at one statistic for one year — full year ERA. Mulder has a history of great outings, and did so last year for the first half with a below 3.00 ERA (when that awesome ERA helped him win about 14 games). I’d rather have a pitcher go 80 innings with 18 runs (10 wins with and ERA of 2.03) and then 10 innings with 20 runs (3 losses with ERA of 22) because that’s a 10 – 3 record with a ERA of 4.00 rather than a pitcher who averages 6 innings per game with a 4 ERA because the second pitcher will have a 5-8 record. Although exaggerated, the first pitcher is like Mulder last year, and the second is Franklin (not terrible, but consistently gives up 3-4 runs in 5-6 innings).

    Something did happen to Mulder. Tipping pitches, tired arm, personal problems, nagging injury? I don’t know. Maybe the A’s do know and got rid of him because of the serious nature of the problem. But I expect at least 20 starts where he keeps the opponent to fewer than 4 runs for nearly 8 innings. That translates into wins. To say the A’s will lose only about 4 to 5 games because of the drop off in starting pitching due to the loss of Hudson and Mulder is, IMO, just not right.

  29. RealRhino on December 21st, 2004 10:54 am

    I know it’s probably still true, but it is a bit ironic to hear people say the A’s can’t expect young pitchers to come in and perform at better than league average level right away, when that is precisely what happened with three of the last four new starters they rolled out there: Hudson, Zito, and Harden.

  30. jim on December 21st, 2004 12:06 pm

    I agree with a previous poster that it’s interesting to read comments about the division as a whole, since I am also an A’s fan.

    I do a lot of reading (though little to no posting) on baseballthinkfactory, bp, hardballtimes, aaarongleeman, athleticsnation, as well as ussmariner.

    One thing that I’ve never seen specifically mentioned (though it probably has, somewhere) is that the A’s, Mariners and Rangers are really in a tough spot in both time and place. There are 3 teams who spend ridiculously (and thankfully lots of time foolishly) in baseball right now. They are the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels. Because they are all in the AL, the A’s, Mariners and Rangers MUST beat at least 1 of them out to make the playoffs- there’s no free ride like Minnesota gets every year.

    Yes, I know that Toronto, TB and Balt are in the same type of situation.

    Anyway, I think that this fact is in part why Beane made the moves that he did. The chances of the A’s first winning the division, then getting by the Yankees and Boston at this point seems low. Maybe in a couple of years when Anaheim falls apart under the weight of a lot of questionable deals (and possibly Boston, as well) the landscape will be more conducive for other teams in the West with much lower payrolls to sneak in with a good team.

    In the meantime, if the A’s can’t win the division, I’ll certainly be hoping that either the Mariners or Texas can beat out Anaheim and possibly hasten their demise.

  31. A's fan on December 21st, 2004 1:04 pm


    I don’t think you were watching the same Nick Swisher as I was. Aside from the fact that he lacks the true footspeed necessary to run down balls hit in the gap that he’ll encounter in the major leagues, he is an outstanding outfielder. And that one deficiency will be almost totally mitigated in left field. His quickness, reactions, and arm strength are all plusses.

    He’s going to surprise you with how good he’ll be in the outfield. Just watch.

  32. Josh Reed on December 21st, 2004 2:51 pm

    Athletics nation sucks. It’s a gorified message board. If you want an A’s fan with some knowledge, head to Elephants in Oakland. EIO doesn’t like the Kendall trade but loves the Hudson and Mulder trades. I think the big thing he points out that everybody else is missing is injury risk. Hudson and Mulder have been hurt. They might be ‘damaged’ goods.

  33. Ezra on December 22nd, 2004 7:34 am

    I have to disagree that the A’s have improved. First, September means nothing if you’re out of contention by then which I think they will be without Mulder’s wins by the break last year. It’s one thing to lose a couple in a row with Hudson and Mulder coming up but it’s a totally different thing they’re going to have next year. Second, anybody who thinks they aren’t going to lose $10 million plus in fan revenue is whistling in the dark. Without Tejada and now these two, this team simply isn’t going to be as fun to watch.
    I know Beane thinks Hudson is going to stay injury prone and that Mulder had some physical thing wrong that’s here to stay but Beane, like most of baseball, thought he had seen the best of Tejada in 2002. I look for the A’s to get off slow, lose their confidence, and end up somewhere around winning half their games. I think Beane should have given it one more shot and gone for the ring by adding a big player and hoped they could continue to build their fan base up to where they could handle 70-80 million in payroll. What worries me is that in a couple of years 45 million might be high.

  34. Bela Txadux on December 22nd, 2004 9:25 pm

    So Dave,

    You’ve articulated exactly what has been on my mind regarding this total rebuild by Beane: the team _in aggregate_ is deeper, younger, and cheaper, and the moves as a whole add up quite well. They’ve given up some wins and a bunch of innings out of the rotation SO FAR, but the deep bullpen indicates that Good Billy has seen the light: postseason teams with good bullpens and adequate rotations go deeper than those set up vice versa. A chronically weak bullpen has been the real weakness of the As teams of the last five years along with a porous defense. Beane already fixed the defense, and has cost himself little if anything with this rebuild there; now, he has fixed the bullpen. The offense is adequate for his whole design, and given how young most of it is there’s room to raise the ceiling on this collection of players. If Billy now adds a rotation innings eater, or even more major arm (read Brad Penny with the Yankers let howling in the wake), or alternatively a major lefty bat, the As could very easily win the division. Projecting them for last doesn’t figure (I’d put Texas with their non-rotation there, but the Ms have so many holes remaining that the good ship could easily sink like a sub with its cocks unstopped).

    All in all, I’m very impressed with Beane’s rebuild. Particularly in contrast to the Mariners efforts. Of course, Billy had some blue chips to trade whereas Bill had to buy his on the open market. More important, Billy Beane understands that he has a 25-man roster two work with. Bavasi’s resigning of Villone, who has no chance to improve and a very high probability of declining in ’05, makes it plain that he, in contrast, _does not_ grasp that he has a 25-man roster to work with. Can anyone imagine Billy Beane keeping Winn, Franklin, Bloomquist, or Villone on his roster???? Of course not.