Oakland Athletics 2012 Preview

Projected Record: 76-86

Player WAR Player WAR
C Kurt Suzuki 2.4 SP1 Brandon McCarthy 3.1
1B Daric Barton 1.5 SP2 Bartolo Colon 2
2B Jemile Weeks 2.9 SP3 Brad Peacock 1.3
SS Cliff Pennington 2 SP4 Jarrod Parker 1
3B Josh Donaldson 1 SP5 Tommy Milone 2
LF Coco Crisp 2 CP Brian Fuentes 0.5
CF Yoenis Cespedes 1.8 RP Grant Balfour 0.9
RF Josh Reddick 2 RP Joey Devine 0.6
DH Jonny Gomes 1.4 RP Jerry Blevins 0.4
Bench Seth Smith 1.8 RP Fautino De Los Santos 0.3
Bench Brandon Allen 0.4 RP Ryan Cook 0
Bench Anthony Recker 0.4 RP Graham Godfrey 0.1
Bench Adam Rosales 0.6 Tyson Ross 0.5
Bench Collin Cowgill 0.8 Dallas Braden 1.6
Chris Carter 0.4 Brett Anderson 1
Manny Ramirez 0
21.4 15.3

The Athletics made some major moves in the offseason, trading two of their best young starting pitchers and their closer for a pretty nice haul of prospects. They also signed Yoenis Cespedes, which came as a surprise to many, especially because they already had a bunch of outfielders. They won’t compete in 2012, but have some nice pieces which would result in a competitive team in 2014.

At catcher the A’s will have Kurt Suzuki, whose offense has taken a step back the last two seasons. His BABIP has dropped to .245 over that time, which has lessened his value from ’08-’09. His defense is about average though, and with the drop in catcher production around the majors, he’s still about league average. The infield consists of, around the diamond, Daric Barton, Jemile Weeks, Cliff Pennington, and whoever ends up playing third base after Scott Sizemore’s injury. Barton will have to perform better in 2012 if he wants to keep his job, which he may not even have at the start of the season if Brandon Allen or Chris Carter impress in the spring. Barton still walks a ton, but the other two have a lot more power potential. Weeks had a nice rookie season, although his walk rate declined from what it was in the minors. If he can improve that as well as his glove, he could be a 3-4 win player. Pennington had a down year defensively according to the metrics, which made him lose most of his value. His offense is nothing special, so he needs to show that his defensive performance in ’10 wasn’t an anomaly. Sizemore wasn’t going to be terrific at third base, but he has an above average walk rate and appeared to be a decent hitter. Josh Donaldson, who will apparently get the first crack at winning the job, won’t be a huge downgrade if he can produce similarly to his numbers in AAA last year and not be a huge sinkhole on the field. Adam Rosales could see time there as well. He had a pretty good 2010 season in limited playing time, although he missed a lot of time due to injury in 2011.

Oakland acquired no less than 8 OF/DH types in the offseason, which should result in some hearty competition for the starting spots in spring training. Crisp appears to have a job locked down, after being resigned to a multi-year contract in the offseason, although he’s likely to move to left if the A’s want Cespedes in center. It has been reported that the A’s told Cespedes that he would have a starting job on opening day, which was part of the reason that he signed, so he’s likely to at least start out the season in center. I think Josh Reddick will see the most PAs in right, after the A’s traded Andrew Bailey to acquire him. Seth Smith, Jonny Gomes, Collin Cowgill, and Manny Ramirez are all in competition for DH/outfield at bats. Cowgill will start in the minors, and Ramirez has to serve his suspension, but Gomes and Smith, along with Carter and Allen could all walk away with a starting job. The bench will be made up of some of these fellows, along with Anthony Recker, and Rosales or Donaldson.

After trading their two most established starters in Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, the Athletics have a young and unproven rotation, besides free-agent signing Bartolo Colon. Brandon McCarthy is the only returning member, and while he is unlikely to lead the AL in FIP again in 2012, his peripherals indicate that he could still have a very good season. Colon showed that he still has some gas left in the tank last year, and with him moving to Oakland his stats could actually improve. The last three spots of the rotation will likely be Brad Peacock, Jarrod Parker and Tom Milone, until Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson return. Peacock and Parker have the best stuff of the three, but Milone could be a valuable piece at the back end as well. Braden will likely return in May, while Anderson’s not back until July or August.

Brian Fuentes is slated to be the A’s closer, while being set-up by Grant Balfour and Joey Devine. All three should have some value for the club, and will be joined by Jerry Blevins, and Fautino De Los Santos to combine for a slightly above average, while wholely unexciting pen.

The Athletics influx of young talent through offseason moves won’t pay dividends in 2012, but could push them to be competitive in the AL West by 2014. It will be an uphill battle with the strength of the Rangers and Angels, but the potential is there if they can get their stadium/city issues dealt with.

Offseason Acquisitions: Yoenis Cespedes, Collin Cowgill, Josh Reddick, Seth Smith, Jonny Gomes, Manny Ramirez, Jarrod Parker, Ryan Cook, Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock, Bartolo Colon

Offseason Losses: Hideki Matsui, David DeJesus, Ryan Sweeney, Michael Wuertz, Gio Gonzalez, Rich Harden, Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow, Guillermo Moscoso, Josh Outman

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