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Are the 2011 A’s Broken Beyond Repair?

June 6, 2011

There was a really interesting post on Athletics Nation that I enjoyed titled “A 7-Step Plan to Fix the A’s” and the article basically highlights some things that I highlighted in an earlier post here about our ability to contend beyond 2011. That writer feels 2011 is still salvageable, but I do not know how much I feel that is the case any longer. The A’s now stand seven games back (that happened in a blink of an eye didn’t it?) and while the Rangers have got guys like Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton back into their lineup, we’ve since been adding more and more participants to the disabled list (though we have got Andrew Bailey back, and a somewhat insignificant addition of Adam Rosales awaits).

The decision needs to be made, are we buyers or are we sellers? Unfortunately I think we’re stuck in the position of sellers because this season is not the last baseball season ever, and also because we just don’t have anything to buy with. So while this year should have been a good one, sadly it hasn’t worked out that way and if we sold the farm we may be able to keep up with Texas (though it still seems less and less likely) and that would leave us in a terrible spot for next year. So with that said we need to let the fire sale begin we are officially broken beyond repair. We need to trade, Coco Crisp, David DeJesus and Josh Willingham from our outfield. We need to trade Mark Ellis and Kevin Kouzmanoff in the unlikely event that there are any takers. We need to look into trading Kurt Suzuki if we can return real value for him. I think we trade for pitching, we trade for pitching and then we use that to trade from our bullpen and rotation strength either this year at the deadline or more likely following the season.

I am not going to name specific names here because that is an act large in futility but I feel the strategy should be, to acquire pitching, and use that pitching to trade some of our existing pitchers this offseason and acquire bats supplemented by free agency. Give some guys a shot to show what they can do at the MLB level this year for the remainder of the year (we are looking at you Adrian Cardenas, Michael Taylor, Jemile Weeks) and then we take stock of where our holes are and trade and sign our way to filling them. Next year’s offense still will not be pretty but perhaps it can be more respectable. Part of winning in baseball is knowing when to give in and build for the future. That time is rapidly approaching in Oakland…

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. sc athletics fan permalink
    June 6, 2011 7:23 pm

    David,

    I couldn’t agree more that the 2011 season is officially over for the Athletics! I had a feeling something was wrong with Anderson physically, so his recurring elbow problems are no surprise to me. With the likelihood of Anderson done and Ross and McCarthy out til the All-Star Break, this spells a bitter end to such a promising season. I believe the Athletics need to sell high on Crisp and Willingham. I think Beane should hang on to Zook, as he is so good with the staff (what’s left of it) and given that Powell and Donaldson are 4A players at best. I feel they should trade Balfour, Wuertz , & Fuentes, and just try to get anything in return to build up the 28th ranked farm system in MLB. I don’t think they will get anything of value for Kouz, Jackson, Ellis, or Matsui.

    If the front office has any sense about it, they need to boot Geren and it can’t be done soon enough. As you have eloquently documented, Geren’s decision-making has been deplorable…I mean a magic 8 ball would make better bullpen moves!

    Hopefully beginning with tonight’s draft, the Athletics can rebuild for the future, so when these young men reach the majors, (assuming we don’t trade them away for Keith Ginter types), they have a chance to be on a competitive, supported team…in San Jose!!

    • June 6, 2011 8:19 pm

      I agree with getting as much as you can get for Crisp and Willingham. I think Zuk though might have the most value coming at a premium position. Like the article I linked to they suggest Boston as a possible fit, and I did too way back on April 23rd when I wrote , “Perhaps the only position of strength we can deal from is Kurt Suzuki at catcher. But he has struggled himself, and continually year over year as become worse with each year’s passing. Trading low on a player will not yield great quality in return unless you can find a situation where your asset is more valuable to another team than it is to your own (think Boston’s backstop woes with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek).”

      I would want to hang onto Balfour. With Bailey always a pitch away from serious injury I think he is a valuable commodity. Fuentes if used right is a good asset too. Wuertz is someone I am fine dealing – having had injury issues and being superfluous in the sense that I’d rather have Fautino de los Santos throwing smoke than Wuertz’ now flat slider (his whiff rate is way down on that pitch this year).

      I’d actually also hang onto Conor Jackson, otherwise the 2012 outfield could be scary empty – there isn’t much available on the free agent market. But I agree with you entirely that the biggest improvement this club could see is the removal of Geren, I anticipate that that will happen at the end of the year. Sadly, I don’t foresee it happening prior to taht.

      Only a few more picks to go before we select! Thanks for commenting and bringing your perspective!

  2. sc athletics fan permalink
    June 6, 2011 10:38 pm

    Well stated, David. I understand the need to move Zook eventually, but the points you make about Suzuki’s gradual regression, are the very things that will scare off the Red Sox & Giants (two teams with obvious catching needs) Plus, with an abundance of “potentially available” backstops like Pudge, Teagarden, David Ross, et al, I just don’t see the value in trading Zook now.

    While I agree that Bailey is one curveball away from joining Brett Anderson on the “done for 2011 list”, the main reasons I feel Balfour and Fuentes should be dealt are their salaries and their major league experience. I’ve followed Balfour for years, and while I like him, he doesn’t have the composure to ever be a closer. (Yunel Escobar’s walk-off comes to mind) As for Fuentes and his frisbee-throwing delivery… he’s a LOOGY, and a very expensive (and mostly ineffective) one at that. As you have graphed very well many times, even Breslow has better splits (whose season has been a complete trainwreck compared to last season) and the Athletics have an abundance of lefties anyway.

    And regarding Geren, I’d drive from my home in South Carolina to pack his stuff myself, if Beane fired him now lol!

    What are your thoughts on Sonny Gray? Hopefully, he can be similar to the last memorable pitcher to come from Vanderbilt… David Price!

    P.S. I love your blog a lot—I read it everyday! I really appreciate all the work you put into this David! Great job of blogging the games and excellent job of analysis. Keep up the great work!

    • June 6, 2011 11:33 pm

      Regarding Zuk I think the question is what is the cause of the regression. I’d argue it is due to his overuse. I mean the guy is a catcher and seldom gets a day off. Compare him to a lot of the other catchers in the league with how many games he’s in behind the plate. But also if I am the Red Sox, money isn’t an object, so why not have a guy like Kurt Suzuki who may or may not be a super sub on my club. This is a team that platoons Mike Cameron and J.D. Drew (near sure starters on most clubs). I think while the Zuk contract is bigger for the A’s it is a drop in the bucket for Boston especially if it means the difference of winning a championship or sitting out. Also his defensive abilities make him a good candidate to catch Tim Wakefield. All that being said, I want Suzuki to stay, I just am an ardent believer in if you want something good, you need to give up something good. Oftentimes I read these trade pontifications where someone wants to just give a grab bag of players and get Tim Lincecum back. Real trades don’t work that way, if we want to get a good quality player we need to give up a good quality player.

      I can see Balfour as a meltdown waiting to happen in the closer role, but he brings something the A’s have shown so little of – fire which is very welcome. Also I like his playoff experience which is something sorely lacking on this team. With respect to Fuentes, I think it is a similar issue with Suzuki, is he really bad, or is his misuse making him look bad? If we truly used him as a LOOGY guys get less views of him and his deception perhaps is more deceptive? Or perhaps I am simply overanalyzing it, but I think there is value to Fuentes as much as he makes me pull my hair out on the mound. You should look at Breslow’s numbers, after an awful first week of the season he’s really put it together and quietly gone about a decent year – Geren needs to put a bit more faith in him because he really has been getting it done but like the others I wonder how his misuse has effected him (he was among the league leaders in appearances).

      Yes! Pick me up on the way because I will help Geren bubble wrap, fill any drywall holes to get his deposit back, etc. just to get him out of town. He seems like a good enough guy, and I am fine with him staying in the organization as a scout or something but he just isn’t bringing it as a manager.

      I can’t say I follow college ball too much, the ping of the bat just doesn’t have that lure for me though it was nice seeing my alma mater Michigan State Spartans win the Big Ten in baseball this year (but be left out of the NCAA tournament because of a Big Ten tourney loss to Illinois! geez). From the clips I’ve seen he looks good. First round guys always have the stuff. For me what is important, especially with pitchers is do they have the makeup, and this guy I watched a lot of interviews on the Commodores’ YouTube channel and he seems like a bright kid (Vanderbilt is no slouch of a school either) with his head on straight. I like that because I think that sort of poise and intelligence benefits a pitcher greatly, but I guess we’ll know more in what 2014?

      Thank you so much for reading, I truly take your comments to heart. I try to do the best I can, really this is just a labor of love. I love baseball and blabbing about it, and online I can find others who care about baseball as much as I do and all the minutiae about the game I find so fascinating. I appreciate your support, compliments and readership!

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