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The Offseason

Posted By Patrick Ryan On Nov 3 2010 @ 9:55 am In Oakland A's | 1 Comment

**UPDATE**

The current time is 10:36am PST

Just to follow up on what I wrote earlier this morning.  Like I had predicted, the A’s did in fact exercise the options on Mark Ellis and Coco Crisp, while the option on Chavez was subsequently declined.  The options picked up cost $11.5 million, while the buyout for Chavez’ contract was $3 million.  Despite picking up $14.5 million in the past couple hours, the A’s still have roughly $20 million coming off the books this winter, which will likely be used on free agent signings and/or locking up Cahill, Gonzalez, or Bailey through their arbitration years.

**ORIGINAL POST**

The Road Ahead

After their first “non-losing” season since falling to the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 ALCS, the Oakland Athletics have what’s sure to be an interesting offseason ahead of them – almost exclusively on the offensive end.  Although plenty of speculation surrounds the idea of GM Billy Beane acquiring a bat through trade(s) that may involve one of Oakland’s young starting pitchers, the only position players (that started all of last season) with guaranteed contracts through 2011 are Kurt Suzuki, Daric Barton, and Cliff Pennington.  7 of the remaining 10 arbitration-eligible Athletics are position players, with Dallas Braden, Joey Devine, and Craig Breslow being the exceptions.  Jeremy Hermida and Boof Bonser were arbitration-eligible, but elected for free-agency following their respective outrights.  Pending options on 2B Mark Ellis and CF Coco Crisp also remain.  Typically, the A’s bench remains in question until the end of spring training, but it’s terribly unlikely the $12 million option on Eric Chavez is picked up.

Here’s a position by position (minus the bench, pen & 5th SP) look at the A’s upcoming winter

C.  Kurt Suzuki
1B. Daric Barton
2B. ??? (pending option on Ellis)
3B. ??? (Kouzmanoff arbitration-eligible)
SS. Cliff Pennington
LF. ??? (Davis arbitration-eligible)
CF. ??? (pending option on Crisp)
RF. ??? (Sweeney arbitration-eligible)
DH. ??? (Cust arbitration-eligible)

SP. Brett Anderson
SP. Trevor Cahill
SP. Gio Gonzalez
SP. ??? (Braden arbitration-eligible)

Despite the abundance of question marks, (literally) there are a couple of fairly safe bets regarding the aforementioned arbitration cases and pending options.  Buster Olney recently tweeted [1] that the A’s are likely to pick up the Ellis and Crisp options, while Conor Jackson, Jack Cust, Gabe Gross, and Travis Buck are the only legitimate non-tender candidates.  The weak CF free agent pool, in conjunction with Mark Ellis missing the cut as a Type-A, make Olney’s tweet even more convincing.

Strengths and Weaknesses of 2010

Pitching was far and away the A’s greatest strength. Here’s how they placed in the American League in 2010.
Runs Allowed: (626) 1st in AL
ERA: (3.58) 1st in AL
WHIP: (1.28) 2nd in AL

Offense, on the other hand, was a different story.
Runs Scored: (663) 11th in AL
OBP: (.324) 9th in AL
OPS: (.702) 13th in AL

While it’s not an ell-encompassing, or even notably illustrative statistic by an means, the A’s 16 intentional walks in 2010, easily the lowest in all of MLB, depicts the lack of any significant threat in their lineup (same goes with batting Kurt Suzuki and Ryan Sweeney 59 times in the 3-spot).  The offseason promises to be an eventful one for the A’s at the very least.  Billy Beane faces what is arguably the most pressure he’s ever had entering a season during his tenure as the Oakland GM.  The disparity of effectiveness on both ends of the game is far too drastic to ignore, and clarifies the notion that the A’s have what it takes to be a competitor in 2011 as long as some obvious issues are addressed.

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