Sunday, March 18, 2012

30 Teams in 30 Days: Oakland A's

2011 Record: 74 – 88, Third in AL West

Key Additions: Manny Ramirez (OF), Yoenis Cespedes (OF), Bartolo Colon (P), Seth Smith (OF), Jonny Gomes (OF), Tom Milone (P), Josh Reddick (OF), Merkin Valdez (P)

Subtractions: Andrew Bailey (P), Trevor Cahill (P), Craig Breslow (P), Gio Gonzalez (P), Guillermo Moscoso (P), Josh Willingham (OF), Ryan Sweeney (OF), Josh Outman (P), Hideki Matsui (OF), Rich Harden (P), David DeJesus

2012 Outlook: It goes without saying that Moneyball is going to have some influence on the A’s season, and while it will likely be insignificant, it has brought the Oakland A’s to the forefront of a lot of people’s minds, and that’s a good thing. Being a small market team has forced the A’s to consistently operate with one of baseball’s smallest budgets, but Billy Beane was able to find success, as Moneyball illustrated, but the baseball world has evolved, and the A’s need to continue to evolve. That may soon be happening as the Oakland A’s may soon be moving to San Jose, and Oakland may well be gearing up for that move.

Billy Beane is one of the longest-tenured GMs in baseball, having been in his current role since 1997, and he had one of the busiest offseasons in baseball and was responsible for one of the many surprises in the offseason when the Oakland A’s played the role of the mystery team and came from no where to sign Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year $36 million contract in what can only be a sign that the A’s believe they will be able to contend once again the near-future. A great deal of their offseason was spent dealing some of their best young arms as Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey, Gio Gonzalez, Guillermo Moscoso, and Josh Outman all found new homes, and they also managed to completely revamp their entire outfield as they added Seth Smith, Josh Reddick, and Jonny Gomes to replace the departed Josh Willingham, Ryan Sweeney, and David DeJesus. It’s unclear if Yoenis Cespedes will begin in the majors or not, but he would be a welcome addition for a fanbase looking for a player to take on the role of being the real franchise player.

Interestingly enough, the A’s also were the team that decided to take a chance on Manny Ramirez as they signed him to a one-year deal in the hopes that he can recreate some of the magic that makes Manny, Manny. Once he finishes serving his suspension for violating MLB’s Drug Policy, he will likely become the DH filling the void left by Hideki Matsui.

Last year, Oakland struggled to a 74-88 record in the AL West, which in the offseason got a great deal tougher. The Angels signed Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson to make two strengths even stronger, as they bolstered a potent offense and a strengthened a strong rotation, while the reigning AL Champions, the Texas Rangers signed Yu Darvish and Joe Nathan and don’t appear to be getting any weaker. Oakland has a tough road ahead and while a move to San Jose may help reinvigorate the fanbase, it won’t make the competition any easier to overcome.

The Final Count: 65 – 97, Fourth in AL West

The AL West is currently the smallest division in all of baseball, but that’s about to change as the Houston Astros are being realigned beginning in 2013 which will certainly aide the fortunes of the Athletics moving ahead, it doesn’t do anything to weaken the Angels or Rangers, two of the best teams in the majors moving forward, and having to compete against the Angels and Rangers is a big reason that the staff here at Blue Jays Plus feel the A’s will finish 2012 fourth in their division, with a 65-97 record. However, if the signing of Yoenis Cespedes is an indication of things to come, Billy Beane may not be done with his surprises just yet.

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