A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Return of Byrnes

The A's came to terms with outfielder Eric Byrnes on a new one-year contract for $2.2 million, avoiding arbitration. Previously the team had submitted a $2M salary figure and Byrnes' agent had asked for $2.5M, so this is an extremely unsurprising result.

The new contract for Byrnes offers $25,000 incentives for reaching 350 and 450 plate appearances, and another $25k that he would be paid automatically if he is traded. (This amount would be paid by his new team, not the A's.)

This deal means that Juan Cruz is now the only A's player not yet under contract for next season. I'm sure an agreement there isn't far away, since the two sides were so close in arbitration figures: Cruz's agent asked for $860k, and the A's offered $600k.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Next Great A's Pitcher?

As recently as last weekend, I was resigning myself to the notion that 2005 might not be the A's year. But then I started to think, what did the A's really lose? I don't think the loss of Jermaine Dye is irreplaceable. So we lost 2 of the Big 3. But when you look at the rotation possibilities, how far is it from last year's? I think Zito 2005 is not going to be much worse than Zito 2004. Harden is definitely ready to replace either a Mulder or a Hudson. So really what we are hoping as A's fans is that SOMEONE is able to replace the numbers put up by one of the Big 3 last year. Who do we have to choose from? Haren, Meyer, Yabu, Blanton. Duch could start for almost any team in baseball, but he did such a good job in long relief, I'd keep him there for now.

The A's really only need one of the 4 to be great and 2 others to be ok and their starting pitching will be as good as it has been through this great 5 year run. I think the guy flying under the radar right now is Joe Blanton. He's not new and he's not Japanese. What he is is a chubby guy with a gun. Chubbies with guns do well in the bigs. I checked out Bartolo Colon's career numbers and they are better than I would have thought. I don't think it is unreasonable to think Joe Blanton can be a poor man's Bartolo Colon. Although I am excited about a year's worth of stats from Blanton, I am also optimistic that any one of these 4 starters can do well. As far as offense, almost all of the hitters appear to have an upside, the bullpen looks better and Kendall and Ginter look like great pickups right now.

So after falling off the A's bandwagon for maybe a month or so, I'm back on. Let's go A's. Especially now, when hope springs eternal, I don't see why we can't hope for another great year.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Top Prospects

John Sickels, in his final "Down on the Farm" column at ESPN.com, has named his top 10 prospects for 2005. Actually, it's more like 20: 10 hitters and 10 pitchers. Sickels is a terrific minor-league prospect expert, deftly balancing traditional scouting methods with statistical performance analysis. Anyway, I'll skip straight to the good stuff.


5) Daric Barton, C, Oakland
Probably the best overall hitter in the minor leagues, with a tremendous combination of power and contact ability. Only his questionable defense and likely position switch keep him below the other guys.


7) Dan Meyer, LHP, Oakland
Rookie of the year candidate. Throws hard, throws strikes, could end up being comparable to Mark Mulder.

8) Huston Street, RHP, Oakland
Like [Twins reliever Jesse] Crain, he will be a fine closer eventually, but his status going into spring training is not guaranteed. Should move quickly in any event.

Well, I don't know about you, but I like it when I hear that the A's have "probably the best overall hitter in the minor leagues." Prior to the big shake-ups this off-season, the A's farm system was a little lacking in true blue-chippers. Street, maybe, but he's a reliever and those guys can only have so much impact. I'm very excited about the new additions.

Barton rates to start 2005 in high-A Stockton, in the California League; Street and Meyer probably in Sacramento (AAA) if they don't make the big league squad right out of spring training. Now that the A's Cal League affiliate has moved to within an hour's drive (last year it was in Visalia), it may be worthwhile heading out there to catch a sneak preview of the future stars of the franchise.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Pitchers whose names start H-A-R

I went to my 2005 Bill James handbook to try to find some new interesting stat about Danny Haren. I thought maybe I could glean some new information about why he might be the next great A's pitcher. I see a good pitcher, I don't see a great pitcher. I look 2 spots above him alphabetically and I see Aaron Harang, the guy that bounced around the A's organization until they traded him in Cincy in 2003. I always liked Harang, but felt like the A's organization didn't like him. I never figured out why. He is a major league pitcher, not a world beater, but he'd make a great #5 guy on almost any team, maybe even the 2005 A's. He was 10-9 for the Reds last year. The guy between Harang and Haren in the Bill James guide, which lists all major leaguers alphabetically is....Rich Harden. Greatness written all over this guy's stats, which I have probably beaten to death. I flipped to the next page in the book and the next guy also happens to be a pitcher, and his name is Tim Harikkala. I thought, "that name sounds familiar, hmm... he pitched last year for the Rockies...do we have this guy?"....I went to OaklandAthletics.com, the A's have picked him up and added him to their 40 man roster.

Over at Athletics Nation is a story about someone meeting Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball. Lewis says something to the effect of, "first it was onbase percentage, then defense, now the A's have found the next new way to get undervalued talent." I think I cracked their secret. The A's secret is to go after pitchers whose last names start H-A-R! The genius of this plan! Of course no one would expect the A's to evaluate talent alphabetically, but they have or have had 4 in a row in that section of the alphabet. The next guy on the list is Travis Harper. Last year he was 6-2 with a 3.89 era 59 K's 23 BB's. Seems like we need that guy.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?