Sunday, December 26, 2004

And then there was one.....

The Mulder trade is already old news and I am only now posting on the subject. Part of the reason for the delay is because I was still in Los Angeles last week and didn't have access to a computer for a few days. But the major reason was simply shock. I fully expected one of the Big 3 to be traded during the off-season, but if you had told me that not 1, but 2 of the Big 3 would be gone within a matter of days AND the 2 gone would be Mulder and Hudson, I would have said you were insane.

In retrospect, I am glad I was not close to a computer when I heard about the Mulder trade, as my first post in response to the news probably would not have been very prudent. Now that I have had a week to digest the news and also check out what others are saying about it, I can honestly say I feel much better about it.

Losing - arguably - the 2 best starters on the A's staff is a big blow to the A's starting pitching in 2005 and could cost them the post season next year. However, I feel very confident in the prospects that the A's got in return. Billy Beane traded 2 great players and got 6 very good prospects in return, some of whom could possibly develop from very good to great in a short period of time. Let's take a look at some of the commentary regarding the A's trades :

First off, Athletics Nation comments on the A's bell curve of wins over the past seasons from 1999-2004. From the mouth of Blez :

Realize that the A's winning curve has gone this way over the past six
1999 - 87 wins
2000 - 91 wins
2001 - 102 wins
2002 - 103 wins
2003 - 96 wins
2004 - 91 wins
Beane could see the writing on the wall. That's a
bell curve right there. And it was with the Big Three in the fold.

There's a lot that can be said from looking at the above numbers and plenty of room for disagreement on whether 2005 would have shown a continuing decline, but it is an interesting phenomenon to consider. Further adding substance to this theory is Aaron Gleeman of the Hardball Times. In his article, he theorizes that the A's had already gone through their "success cycle" that started back in 1999 and now Billy Beane was "blowing up the A's" in order to begin a new "success cycle".

After two straight 100-win seasons, the A's dropped to 96 wins in 2003 and
then won just 91 games this season, failing to make the postseason for the first
time since that 1999 team. It appeared, for the most part, that the A's had gone
through the success cycle -- starting with a young, inexperienced team in the
late 90s, improving until they peaked in 2001 and 2002, and then gradually
declining as defections left the roster depleted. With Hudson, Mulder, and Zito
getting expensive and free agency right around the corner, the window of
opportunity to win with this core was closing.

The A's could have continued to patch holes with veterans, introduced a
couple prospects to the mix each year, and continued to compete for the next
several seasons. Maybe they'd win 91 games again in 2005 and another 90 in 2006,
perhaps sneaking into the playoffs another time or two. But at some point, the
three stud pitchers would be gone, just like Giambi and Tejada before them, and
the A's would be left with a shell of a roster. Instead of going through that,
Beane decided to blow the whole thing up and start from scratch.

Read the whole thing.

Athletics Nation also comments on the fact that the bullpen of the A's has suddenly gone from a position of weakness to one of great strength. There's a great discussion on the Mulder & Hudson trades over at (hat tip to The Hardball Times) which is a must read. In it, one of the writers - Will Carroll - also mentions the bullpen :

The pen could be FILTHY, giving Huston Street some time to develop into the

And further down in the discussion :

The rotation goes six and then they get smashed with Bradford, Cruz, Dotel,
Street, and Rincon. It limits the exposure of a very young staff and limits the
exposure of a defense that could be spotty.

Richard Lederer in the same discussion also comments :

The A’s bullpen has the potential of being better than the Angels’ in 2002. I
would argue that it could end up being one of the deepest ever.

There's plenty of criticism for the trades within the same discussion, but more than a few people have commented on how suddenly the A's bullpen is starting to look awfully deep and strong.

Mychael Urban does a Q&A with Blez over at Athletics Nation and answers some questions about the trades. He goes through the reasons for the trades and comments on the prospects we got, noting that the A's now have the top 3 pitching prospects from 3 different organizations.

For you statheads, Elephants in Oakland does the best stats comparisons for Haren, Calero, and Barton, the 3 prospects we received from St Louis in the Mulder trade.'s Down on the Farm heaps tons of praise for Daric Barton, which they claim is the real prize of the Mulder trade.

He has no real weakness as a hitter. One Midwest League pitcher told me
this summer that Barton was basically impossible to pitch to; he could hit
anything you threw at him, and never reached for a pitch outside the strike
zone. His plate discipline is excellent, and his strikeout rate is very low for
a young power hitter.

There are, literally, no flaws in Barton's hitting performance. He hits for
average and power, draws lots of walks, and doesn't strike out very much. In 144
career games, he has drawn 106 walks with only 92 strikeouts. Plate discipline
like that is rare in a major leaguer, let alone a minor league guy. Given a
normal growth curve, Barton projects as a .290-plus hitter with more than 20
homers a season, gobs of walks, and an excellent on-base percentage. That is a
conservative estimate.

That analysis alone should reassure A's fans quite a bit. There are huge question marks about his defense, but a simple position adjustment could fix that. At the very worst, he simply becomes the A's future DH.

Last, but not least, Skip Bayless says Beane will have the last laugh.

Take the time to read all the links and analysis and you will come away feeling, as I did, much better about the trades and excited for the future of the A's. Oh, and by the way - the 6 players we received in the Hudson & Mulder trades will make a combined $2 million next year. Once again, Billy Beane has made dramatic decisions to take the ball club to a position of greater strength on a shoe-string budget.

Friday, December 17, 2004

The end of an era ? NONSENSE ! Why the Hudson trade to Atlanta made sense.

If you check the official A's website messageboards, you will find a lot of hurt and bitter fans. For that matter go to Athletics Nation or any other A's website with a messageboard, or simply turn on sports radio and you will hear a lot of upset fans.

However, there are is a small group of us die-hard A's fans who, despite the pain and mourning of losing this team's heart and soul of pitching, are seeing the bigger picture and can see why this trade made sense.

Make no mistake : Tim Hudson WAS the heart and soul of the Oakland A's, the de-facto team captain, the bulldog of our pitching staff. He will be sorely missed and even those of us that see the wisdom in this trade are also very hurt by his departure. However, given the time to look at this in a more objective light, the trade begins to make sense.....

First Off : Why in the world would Billy Beane trade his best starting pitcher for relatively unheard of prospects ? For the answer, go to and click on the Billy Beane interview. In his own words :

Why was now the right time?. . .
When it became crystal clear that we needed to do something was when this
free agent market -- some of these players that are out there now started
signing -- some very good pitchers, but I'm not sure this side of
Pedro Martinez, I don't think any of them were of Tim Hudson's caliber. Seeing
what the going rate for what some of these guys were, it became clear that we
probably would never ever have a chance to sign Tim Hudson.
that really kind of sealed the deal. (emphasis added by Oakland

Get it ? Basically, Billy Beane saw what people were willing to pay somebody like Pedro Martinez or Carl Pavano in the free trade market, neither of which were, in my mind (and I think Billy Beane's) of the same caliber as Tim Hudson, and immediately realized the kind of money that somebody like Tim Hudson would command in the free agent market after 2005. Faced with that reality, the decision was simple : trade Hudson now for the best prospects you could get, or give him up after 2005 for draft picks. Billy Beane made the best choice he could : get the best young prospects he could get who are or would be major league ready come 2005.

Peter Gammons of ESPN adds his opinion that this deal was a great one for Atlanta and a good one for the A's, adding strong depth to the A's roster :

Start with this: Oakland got three good players with fewer than three years
of major-league service time. They love Thomas, who had an .813 OPS in Atlanta
in '04 (after posting a .951 OPS at Triple-A Richmond in 2003), has defensive
numbers in left field that are off the charts, and brings -- with Kendall --
energy to a team that needs a spark. The Oakland organization believes Meyer is
one of the five best pitching prospects coming out of Triple-A (he was 9-6 in
Double-A and Triple-A combined); he has a 381-87 career strikeout-walk ratio in
352 career innings pitched. Cruz gives the A's a third power arm out of the
bullpen with Huston Street and Jairo
in front of closer Octavio

Charles Thomas is Eric Byrnes with better defense. A guy that came out of nowhere in 2004 to become a fan favorite in Atlanta who will be missed by the fans there. I have heard nothing but good things about this guy's hustle, attitude, and professionalism in the game. Oh, and supposedly his defense is top notch, something that many scouts have been concerned about with Byrnes in LF. From what I have read, it sounds like Charles Thomas is a Byrnes clone, albeit with better defense. If he is received in Oakland the way he was received in Atlanta, he too could become a fan favorite like Byrnes.

Dan Meyer is one of the top pitching prospects in all the minor leagues. John Sickles from ESPN's "Down on the Farm" gushes :

Meyer has plus velocity for a southpaw, throwing his fastball a consistent
90-93 mph. His heater has unusually good sinking action from a lefty, and he
mixes it well with a tight slider, a curveball, a splitter, and a standard
changeup. His biggest need coming into '04 was to improve the changeup, which
always has been promising but was erratic in the past. He met this goal, giving
him a complete arsenal. Meyer has good command and is an efficient pitcher with
little wasted effort in his delivery. He isn't afraid to throw inside but also
can paint a corner when needed. His overall level of athleticism is good, which
helps him with fielding and holding runners. He also is intelligent and
competitive. The bottom line is that Meyer has few flaws as a pitcher and has
worked hard to correct those he has.

You can't find anything wrong with Meyer's statistical set. His K/BB, K/IP,
and H/IP ratios are all strong, and showed very little deterioration as he faced
better competition up the professional ladder. His home run allowed rate is also
low, another positive sign. His 19-19 career record in the minor leagues might
not be great, but his 2.71 ERA and 381-87 K/BB in 352 minor league innings are
much better indicators of his talent level.

His numbers are off the charts. Just to give you an idea, let's compare Dan Meyer's minor league stats to A's phenom Rich Harden :

Innings Pitched : 333 (Harden) 352 (Meyer)
Minor League ERA : 3.27 (Harden) 2.71 (Meyer)
K/BB : 401-152 (Harden) 381-87 (Meyer)
WHIP : 1.18 (Harden) 1.12 (Meyer)
K/9 : 10.84 (Harden) 9.79 (Meyer)
BB/9 : 4.11 (Harden) 2.24 (Meyer)
H/9 : 6.51 (Harden) 7.81 (Meyer)

In all categories except K/9 and H/9, Meyer was better in the minor leagues than Harden. And we all know how well Harden has turned out, and he is still young. Both pitchers are basically the same age, with Harden being a few months younger than Meyer. This means both pitchers probably will get better as time goes on and they progress. Barring a total meltdown in Spring Training, I don't see why Meyer would not be in our starting rotation.

Speaking of our rotation, take a look :
Mulder, Harden, Zito, Blanton, Meyer. Ok, so 2 of those names are unknowns and Harden is not well known outside of the A's fan base, but I feel very confident going into 2005 with this rotation. Would I be happier if Hudson's name was in there ? Of course, but I also can't complain with the rotation above. I think the Big 3 of Mulder, Zito, and Harden are fully capable of producing similar numbers to the previous Big 3's pasts. Blanton and Meyer simply have to hold their own, as long as they can produce numbers better than Redman, then we will still have one of the best starting rotations in baseball.

Last, but definitely not least : Juan Cruz.

3.99 275 134 255 8.15 4.39 8.35 1.39 Major League Totals
2.54 432 196 445 8.47 4.08 9.26 1.39 Minor League Totals

While his WHIP is of some concern, he has excellent K/9 and BB/9 numbers, an above average ERA, and a strong number of strikeouts compared to his innings pitched. He is an excellent addition to an Oakland bullpen that was nothing but troubled last season. But what really gets me excited is seeing what will happen to our bullpen once Jairo Garcia and Huston Street join the mix mid-season 2005 or starting in 2006. Check out their respective numbers and tell me you wouldn't be excited about a bullpen that included Cruz, Garcia, and Street.

The main thing to get out of all this is that the A's got 3 very good long term prospects that will continue to keep the A's competitive for years to come. I hate to see Hudson go and it will hurt to not see him in an A's uniform next year, but in the free agent market we would have lost him anyways, and for what ? Simply a draft pick.

I'll close with Peter Gammons, who summons up this trade nicely :

Beane has made the A's a better team than they were on Oct.
and now has, with one of the five deepest farm systems in
the game
, positioned his team to contend for another five
. That's a remarkable accomplishment, doing so on a shoestring
budget. (emphasis by Oakland Pride).

Monday, December 06, 2004

2005 A's Roster

Scroll down if you want to skip all the B.S. and just get to the damn list......

Guide to this post :

Updates are marked in bold and underlined.
Underneath the updates is the Oakland A's probably 25-Man 2005 Roster as I see it.
The 25-Man Roster is listed by position:
- Names are linked to their most current stats
- Next to their names I mark them as "confirmed" in green if their status with the team AND their role on the team is confirmed for 2005.
- Next to their names I mark them as "unconfirmed" if EITHER their status with the team is not 100% confirmed OR their role on the team is not 100% confirmed for 2005
- Following their status as confirmed/unconfirmed, I have added my own thoughts on their positions with the team in 2005 and what role will they play.

Disclaimer : This is simply 1 fan's (mine) ideas about who will be on the 25-Man Roster on opening day and what role they will play on the team. It is not an official list and not endorsed or approved by the Oakland A's or Major League Baseball

Update : 12-19-04 - A's trade Mark Mulder to the Cardinals, add Dan Haren, Kiko Calero, and Daric Barton

There are a lot of pitchers on our roster now as you can see below. Obviously some of them will be in AAA or possibly traded before the season officially starts. About the best thing that can be said is that our bullpen is vastly upgraded with some good, young arms.

Update : 12-17-04 - A's trade Tim Hudson to the Braves, add LF Charles Thomas, RP Juan Cruz, and SP Dan Meyer

Up to 30 players now, obviously some of these will be gone by opening day, either through trades or demotion to the minor leagues.

C - Jason Kendall - Confirmed, Everday - Starting Catcher
C - Adam Melhuse - Unconfirmed, Backup - Backup Catcher

P - Barry Zito - Confirmed, Starter - No. 1 Starter
P - Rich Harden - Confirmed, Starter - No. 2 Starter
P - Dan Meyer - Unconfirmed, Starter - No. 3 Starter
P - Dan Haren - Unconfirmed, Starter - No. 4 Starter
P - Joe Blanton - Unconfirmed, Starter - No. 5 Starter
P - Justin Duchscherer - Unconfirmed, Relief - Long Relief
P - Chad Bradford - Unconfirmed, Relief - Right Handed Specialist
P - Ricardo Rincon - Confirmed, Relief - Left Handed Specialist
P - Seth Etherton - Unconfirmed, Relief - Regular Relief, back up Starter
P - Juan Cruz - Unconfirmed, Relief - Set Up
P - Kiko Calero - Unconfirmed, Relief - Set Up
P - Octavio Dotel - Unconfirmed, Relief - Closer

1B/DH - Dan Johnson - Unconfirmed - Starting 1B/DH
1B/DH - Erubiel Durazo - Unconfirmed - Starting DH/Backup 1B
2B - Mark Ellis - Unconfirmed, Everyday/Backup - Backup 2b
2B/SS/3B - Marco Scutaro - Unconfirmed, Backup - Utility Infielder
2B - Keith Ginter - Unconfirmed, Everyday/Backup - Starting 2B
SS - Bobby Crosby - Confirmed, Everyday - Starting SS
3B - Eric Chavez - Confirmed, Everyday - Starting 3B

OF - Eric Byrnes - Unconfirmed, Everyday - Starting LF (platoon split with Thomas?)
OF - Mark Kotsay - Confirmed, Everyday - Starting CF
OF - Nick Swisher - Unconfirmed, Everyday - Starting RF
OF - Charles Thomas - Unconfirmed, Everyday/Backup - Starting LF (platoon split with Byrnes?)

Those players currently on the roster, but whom I believe will not be on the roster Opening Day:
P - Tim Harikkala - Unconfirmed, Relief - will be gone or sent down to AAA
1B/DH - Scott Hatteberg - Unconfirmed - will be gone
3B - Adam Morrissey - Unconfirmed, Backup - Will start in AAA. Possible call up for Bench/Utility Infielder
OF - Bobby Kielty - Unconfirmed, Backup - will be gone or sent down to AAA
OF - Matt Watson - Unconfirmed, Backup/Pinch Hitter - Will start in AAA. Possible call up for Bench/PH/Backup OF

Today's news - Monday 12-6-04

As can be expected, everyone is all abuzz about Tim Hudson and his throwing down of the gauntlet, demanding a deal by March 1st or he will walk after the 2005 season.

John Shea at the SF Chronicle thinks it is inevitable that Hudson will now be traded before the season starts, probably for another top bat in the line up and a new starter.

Blez at Athletics Nation agrees. Paul Cohen (Hudson's agent) also believes a trade is possible. Billy Beane says there is no reason to panic - he has seen all this before, besides he has more pressing needs in offering salary arbitration to Jermaine Dye, Mark Ellis, Erubiel Durazo, Eric Byrnes, Octavio Dotel, and Chad Bradford before the December 20th deadline. Elephants in Oakland says big freakin' deal to the Hudson deadline and lists a number of reasons why not to keep him and 1 big reason why we should keep him.

On to other news, Chavez for some reason feels for Jason Giambi and theorizes that possibly media and fan pressure contribute to athletes' steroid use. Now would be a good time for Chavez to shut up and jump this sinking ship that is Jason Giambi.

Check out Mychael Urban's Monday Mailbag on a regular basis. For those of you who don't know, Mychael Urban is the beat writer for the Oakland A's and also the author of the soon to be released book "Aces" about the Oakland big 3 pitchers of Hudson, Mulder, and Zito. Mychael Urban is one of the best sources for info on the big 3 as he has spent the last year following their daily lives as an Oakland A's picture. In this week's mailbag, Mychael says the reason for Hudson's deadline is simple - communication. He wasn't getting any and simply wants to know what the A's plans for him are. He also says you can forget about the A's offering Jermaine Dye anything. It is not just a matter of money - Nick Swisher is ready to be an everyday player.