Tag Archives: Mark Ellis

Who are the Faces of the Franchise? AL West Edition


Continuing on with my look at each organization and their Face of the Franchise, the AL West…

  • Angels – I think that at this point, Torii Hunter has taken the mantle of the face of the franchise. He has even shown leadership (whether or not it was his choice remains to be seen) by switching positions last year for a younger player in Peter Bourjos, and likely to remain the same for Vernon Wells this year. Continue reading
Advertisements

Trade Deadline Thoughts


With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, I put out a call to some of the team-centric bloggers from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance with 3 questions each, dependent on whether or not they considered their team to be a contender or not. Below are the questions, along with each of the responses.

Note that most of these responses were received over the last week, so some may be a bit out of date with the information now known, but that has more with my inability to sit down and write it all down and not with the respondents themselves.

The Respondents

Bill Ivie from I-70 Baseball (Responses are for the Cardinals)
Daniel Shoptaw from C70 at the Bat (Cardinals)
Bee Hylinski from Contract Year (Athletics)

For Contending Teams:

1.  What would you say is your team’s most pressing need to help them get to (or stay in) the playoffs?

Ivie: I will take the opinion side of this.  I have said it for months now.  The Cardinals need some strong help in the middle infield.  When they get production and table setting from the 2b/SS position, they produce and win.  When those positions are quiet, the team loses.

Shoptaw: There are two glaring holes on this team–middle infield, most especially shortstop, and the back of the rotation.  With the hopeful emergence of Tyler Greene to replace Brendan Ryan‘s woeful production, getting another starter would seem to be the most pressing need.  The team can not continue to run out Jeff Suppan and Blake Hawksworth on a regular basis and expect to play in October.

Interesting to me is the fact that both writers agree that the Cardinals’ middle infield is pretty much a black hole in terms of offense. I’m also inclined to agree with Daniel about the fact that the Cardinals need something in their rotation, but I think they are going to have to either make a small acquisition or wait to find out if and when injured pitchers Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse will be able to return to the rotation.

2. What player(s) do you think would most effectively fit that need? Generally, these would only be players that actually have a decent chance of being traded, so no offers for Albert Pujols 🙂

Ivie: What if I want to offer for Albert…oh, wait…we got ’em.  Dan Uggla is always and intriguing name.  I also like the discussions that are suggesting Stephen Drew at SS.  Other than that, I think the market is kind of small for help, but hopefully they can find something out there.

Shoptaw: While the Cardinals would be well-suited to a Dan Haren or a Roy Oswalt, their contract situation most likely leaves them out of the crosshairs of GM John Mozeliak.  All moves must be filtered through the prism of the potential Albert Pujols extension.  Therefore, they’d much rather have someone that was a free agent after this season rather than someone taking up space in the next year or two.  You would think, in that case, they’d look for someone like a Jake Westbrook or perhaps a Kevin Millwood.

I actually really like the idea of the Cardinals acquiring Dan Uggla for a playoff run. While he is a bit expensive at $7.8 million for this season, he is under team control for next season as well, and could conceivably be moved during the offseason if they feel he will be too expensive. I actually really like the Stephen Drew thought as well, but he has more seasons under team control and would realistically cost more to acquire than Uggla. The Cardinals also seem like they would be a good team to take a risk on a Jake Westbrook/Kevin Millwood/Jeremy Guthrie type, and pair them up with Dave Duncan and let him do his magic.

3. What player(s) in your system are most likely to net you the player(s) for those needs?

Ivie: This probably is the biggest obstacle for the Cardinals.  I would say that Bryan Anderson (AAA Catcher), Mitchell Boggs (ML Reliever), and Brendan Ryan (ML Shorstop).  Brendan may be thrown in for a change of scenery and take a team that feels that is what he needs, but it will be hard to tell.

Shoptaw: What they can give up is another story.  Since they used a lot of their chips last year acquiring Mark DeRosa and then Matt Holliday, there’s not a lot on the farm.  There are potentially useful players such as Mark Hamilton and Joe Mather, along with current big leaguers Jon Jay and Allen Craig, that could be used as parts of a deal.  Most likely, St. Louis would have to take on payroll, something that ownership has said there is flexibility to do, and give away lesser quality prospects.  Expect that Brendan Ryan could be a part of a deal as well, especially if they do make a deal for a shortstop.

After looking at the Cardinals system myself, it’s pretty empty at the higher levels. The biggest name that I have heard for them is pitcher Shelby Miller, who I would assume would have to be included in a trade if they were to get themselves someone like Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren. The other thing to remember at this point is that if they acquire a player who has a longer term contract, they may start running into a problem with their payroll limits after 2011 when they will need to resign Albert Pujols.

For Non-Contenders:

1. Which player(s) on your team do you think are most likely to get moved before the deadline?

Hylinski: Pitcher Ben Sheets, notwithstanding Billy Beane’s comments that he doesn’t plan on moving anyone.  Sheets has pitched better with every start recently.  His fastball is up to the mid nineties and all his other pitchers are working more accurately.  He’s a veteran presence and great with the young pitchers.  Speaking of the latter,  if a team would give up a great player and need more than Sheets, the A’s have a plethora of young pitchers in the minors to sweeten the pot.

I really thought that they were going to move him, and that despite his veteran presence he could bring back a fair amount in return. Unfortunately, he was placed on the disabled list on Saturday, and could potentially miss the rest of the season.

2. What would you like to see the organization get in return (ie, a 3B prospect, starting pitching prospects, salary relief, etc)? Specific players aren’t necessarily a requirement, unless you see a specific good match.

Hylinski: A slugger, a 3 or 4 hole hitter who can also play in the field (not another Jack Cust, please)  Someone like Hanley Ramirez would be terrific: a young major league hitter (or major-league ready hitter) with substantial pop in his bat.

I agree that this is definitely what the Athletics need, because the lineup just isn’t good enough in terms of power. Even when Sheets was healthy, I’m not sure I saw a player on the A’s current roster that could have brought that in return. Maybe catcher Kurt Suzuki, but with him now signed to a contract extension, I don’t think he’s going anywhere for at least a couple of seasons.

3. Do you see a good fit for these players that you think could get a deal done?

Hylinski: I am not convinced that Billy Beane and the ownership will pay top dollar for a hot bat.  But that’s what the team needs.  The only 2 bats at top of the A’s minor league system (Sacramento River Cats) are Chris Carter who can only play 1st base, so unless something happens to Daric Barton who has been a hitting and field machine, he’s not coming up; and  Michael Taylor who is at least a year off.

Another possibility might be 2nd-baseman Mark Ellis (though I’d really hate to see him go).  I understand the Phillies and maybe the Red Sox are looking for a 2nd baseman.  Probably Kevin Kouzmanoff will not be traded unless the other end of the deal is too good to pass up.

I’m inclined to agree with these points also, unfortunately. With the stadium situation continuing to drag on in Oakland, and with the team possibly moving to parts unknown, San Jose, or half a dozen other places, they just seem extremely unlikely to pay to get someone like that. The two prospects Bee mentioned have unfortunately been disappointments at AAA to this point, and signs are pointing that they may actually have to repeat the level again next season.

Overall, I thought it was interesting to get the perspective of some writers who are clearly very knowledgeable about their teams, and see if their observations about their teams were similar to mine as someone who sees it a little more at arm’s length. Thanks to everyone who responded to my questions, and you should check out their blogs at the links above as well.

Also, Allen Teruel over at Prorumors.Com had a series of writeups regarding potential trade targets for each team and certain types of players as well. You can find these stories here:
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/national-league-west-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/american-league-west-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/nationals-league-central-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/american-league-central-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/national-league-east-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/american-league-east-buyers-and-sellers/

Here are a few Top 10 lists that can help you out too:
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/top-10-mlb-power-hitters-that-could-be-traded-by-july-31/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/top-10-mlb-starting-pitchers-that-could-be-traded-by-july-31/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/top-ten-prospects-that-could-get-traded-by-july-31/

Original Draft Series: Team #28 – Kansas City Royals


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #28: Kansas City Royals

General Managers(since 1994)

Herk Robinson (1994-2000): 489-576
Allard Baird (2001-2006): 386-586
Dayton Moore (2006-Present): 209-277

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
0 0 0 0 1 3 4 8

While this team has not seen success on the field, there are more players than I would have imagined who achieved success in the Majors after being drafted or signed by the Royals. I think that what put them ahead of the White Sox to me was the caliber of the top players listed on this team, and the performance that they gave while still in a Royals uniform. You have a Rookie of the Year award winner (Beltran), and of course last season’s Cy Young Award winner (Greinke). All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Paul Phillips 1998 – 9th Rd 9 58 gm, .258/.271/.364, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 18 R Released 12/12/07
1B Billy Butler 2004- 1st Rd (14) 6 438 gm, .297/.353/.457, 46 HR, 235 RBI, 1 SB, 191 R Currently with Org.
2B Mark Ellis 1999 – 9th Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Organization Traded to OAK – 1/8/01
3B Alex Gordon 2005 – 1st Rd (2) 5 346 gm, .249/.331/.413, 38 HR, 142 RBI, 28 SB, 165 R Currently with Org.
SS Mike Aviles 2003 – 7th Rd 7 172 gm, .295/.323/.424, 13 HR, 65 RBI, 9 SB, 98 R Currently with Org.
LF Johnny Damon 1992 – 1st Rd (35) 9 803 gm, .292/.351/.438, 65 HR, 352 RBI, 156 SB, 504 R Traded to OAK – 1/8/01
CF Carlos Beltran 1995 – 2nd Rd 9 1999 Rookie of the Year, 1 All-Star Appearance
795 gm, .287/.352/.483, 123 HR, 516 RBI, 164 SB, 546 R
Traded to HOU – 6/24/04
RF David DeJesus 2000 – 4th Rd 10 847 gm., .288/.360/.429, 61 HR, 383 RBI, 47 SB, 489 R Currently with Org.
DH Mike Sweeney 1991 – 10th Rd 16 5 All-Star Appearances
1282 gm, .299/.369/.492, 197 HR, 837 RBI, 50 SB, 700 R
Free Agency – 10/30/07
SP Zack Greinke 2002 – 1st Rd (6) 8 2009 AL Cy Young Award, 1 All-Star Appearance
52-61, 3.75 ERA, 828 K, 243 BB, 977 IP, 1.265 WHIP
Currently with Org.
SP Luke Hochevar 2006 – 1st Rd (1) 4 18-30, 5.68 ERA, 240 K, 125 BB, 362.2 IP, 1.45 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Jeremy Affeldt 1997 – 3rd Rd 9 17-22, 4.77 ERA, 281 K, 178 BB, 399.2 IP, 1.519 WHIP Traded to COL – 7/31/06
SP Billy Buckner 2004 – 2nd Rd 3 1-2, 5.29 ERA, 17 K, 16 BB, 34 IP, 1.559 WHIP Traded to ARI – 12/14/07
SP Tim Byrdak 1994 – 5th Rd 6 0-4, 8.27 ERA, 26 K, 24 BB, 32.2 IP, 2.204 WHIP Free Agency – 12/21/00
RP Carlos Rosa Int’l FA – 2001 9 0-0, 3.21 ERA, 7 K, 3 BB, 14 IP, 1.143 WHIP Traded to ARI – 5/1/10
RP Chad Durbin 1996 – 3rd Rd 6 11-22, 6.01 ERA, 140 K, 106 BB, 262 IP, 1.573 WHIP Free Agency – 12/21/02
RP Kiko Calero 1996 – 27th Rd 6 No Major League Appearances with Organization Free Agency – 11/21/02
RP J.P. Howell 2004 – 1st rd (31) 2 3-5, 6.19 ERA, 54 K, 39 BB, 72.2 IP, 1.541 WHIP Traded to TAM – 6/20/06
RP Brian Sanches 1999 – 2nd Rd 4 No Major League Appearances with Organization Traded to SD – 8/26/03
CL Mike MacDougal 1999 – 1st Rd (25) 7 10-14, 50 SV, 3.88 ERA, 162 K, 76 BB, 174 IP, 1.437 WHIP Traded to CHW – 7/24/06
BN Kila Ka’aihue (1B) 2002 – 15th Rd 8 14 gm, .280/.357/.400, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R Currently with Org.
BN Mitch Maier (OF) 2003 – 1st Rd (30) 7 217 gm., .252/.330/.335, 5 HR, 63 RBI, 9 SB, 73 R Currently with Org.
BN Dusty Hughes (P) 2003 – 11th Rd 7 1-3, 4.03 ERA, 31 K, 18 BB, 38 IP, 1.474 WHIP Currently with Org.
BN Matt Treanor (C) 1994 – 4th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Organization Traded to FLA – 7/29/97
BN Blake Wood (P) 2006 – 3rd Rd 4 0-0, 15 gm., 4 K, 5 BB, 15.1 IP, 1.109 WHIP Currently with Org.

The Royals have had an awful lot of poor finishes, and as a result a lot of very high draft picks in the first round. The Royals do have a lot of hope coming, in the form of the last 4 1st round picks, pitchers Aaron Crow and Mike Montgomery, 1B Eric Hosmer, and 3B Mike Moustakas. It is a bit nice to see that all of their top picks since the 2004 season (with the exception of Matthew Campbell) are still either on their roster or in their minor league system.

June Amateur Draft

Looking at their drafting results, they have had only 24 first round picks in the last 15 drafts (not including 2010). At least some part of this is a result of the fact that the Royals were consistently trading away their type-A free agents to be prior to their reaching free agency, and as such not receiving the compensation picks related to this. That said, they have definitely had a mixed bag of results in recent years. In 2001, you have Colt Griffin, a highly coveted prospect out of high school who could never really improve his control and was out of baseball before the age of 23. In 2000, you have Mike Stodolka, a high school pitcher who flamed out as a pitcher after 6 seasons, and failed as a 1B/OF prospect for the following 3 seasons after that. But in 2002, you have Zack Greinke, and in 2004 you have Billy Butler. There have been quite a few players who at least provided a reasonable return on their first round picks for the Royals.

International Free Agency

I only found one player who the Royals had signed as an international free agent for their roster who was currently in the Majors, Carlos Rosa. Clearly, the Royals have been missing this market for players for quite some time at this point, and unless they make more than a threadbare effort to find players in these countries, they will continue to miss some of the top prospects in the game.

Overall Grade

I think I have to give them a C-. Clearly, there are some high quality players that were developed in the Royals’ system at one point or another (Beltran, Greinke, Damon), and solid major league regulars (Ellis, Butler, Dejesus). Unfortunately, they’ve either never held onto these players at the same time or been able to put together any more than 83 wins in a season to this point. Some of their misses in the draft were pretty stunningly bad in the last 15 years, but overall their ability to scout and develop players is only slightly below average.

Trade Retrospective – Johnny Damon


Next up on the trade retro writeups is the trade that brought Johnny Damon (and Mark Ellis) to the Oakland Athletics. On January 8, 2001, as a part of a 3-team trade, the Athletics acquired OF Johnny Damon, IF Mark Ellis, and P Cory Lidle, the Devil Rays acquired OF Ben Grieve, and the Royals acquired SS Angel Berroa, C A.J. Hinch, and CL Roberto Hernandez.

The Background

The Royals had developed another fine player in Johnny Damon. In the 2000 season, he had posted a .327/.382/.495 line with 16 home runs, 88 runs batted in, and a league leading 46 stolen bases. However, they also knew that he would be eligible to file for free agency after the 2001 season, and were extremely unlikely to be able to resign Damon to a long term contract extension.

The Athletics were coming off of their first division title in over 5 years, having beaten the Mariners to the division title by a 1/2 game. However, they had been eliminated in the first round by the Yankees, and over the span of the season had not really received a lot of “leadoff-type” production from their leadoff hitters.

The Devil Rays continued to hope to improve their team, and were looking to get better production out of their outfield.

The Moving Pieces

For Oakland, Damon was slotted in as the starting center fielder, pushing the previous center fielder, Terrence Long, to the left field spot vacated by Grieve. Mark Ellis was sent to the minors, and would be sent to AAA despite only playing 7 games at AA in the previous season. Lidle was penciled in as the 5th starter for the Major League club.

In Kansas City, Roberto Hernandez was put into the closer’s role, and it was hoped would help to stabilize the back end of their bullpen. Hinch was to be the backup catcher for the Royals, while Angel Berroa was sent to the Royals’ High-A affiliate.

Tampa slotted Ben Grieve in as their every day right fielder and expected him to be a key hitter in their lineup.

What Happened Next

The A’s improved on their previous season’s win total, winning 102 games but finishing 2nd in their division to the record-tying Mariners 116. They were the AL wild card, and drew the Yankees again. While Damon did not have a season quite like his 2000 season, he still posted a very respectable .256/.324/.363 line with 9 homeruns, 49 runs batted in, 27 stolen bases and 108 runs.

The Royals continued to slide to the bottom of the standings, winning only 65 games in 2001. Hernandez pitched reasonably well, recording 28 saves, but posting a 4.12 ERA.

The Devil Rays also took a step backward, losing 100 games again in 2001. Grieve hit alright, but was not quite as expected. He hit .264/.372/.387 with 11 homeruns, 72 runs batted in, and 7 stolen bases.

The Net Moves

Oakland – First Level

  • Damon only spent the 2001 season with the A’s, before leaving via free agency. His leaving did spawn quite a few stories later on though, as the A’s received 2 compensation draft picks for his leaving. These picks were in the group that were discussed in the Moneyball book, and were used specifically to select OF Nick Swisher and IF Mark Teahen. His 2001 season posted a 2.7 WAR.
  • Mark Ellis has been in Oakland since 2002, mostly as the starting 2B. In 880 games, he has posted a .265/.333/.406 slash line with 80 homeruns, 372 runs batted in, 48 stolen bases, and 475 runs. In each full season he has played, he has posted a minimum of 1.2 WAR.
  • Cory Lidle spent the 2001-2002 seasons with the Athletics in the back end of their rotation. In the 2 seasons, he posted a 21-16 record with a 3.74 ERA in 59 starts. He threw 380 innings, struck out 229 batters and walked 86. After the 2002 season he was traded to the Blue Jays for minor leaguers Chris Mowday and Mike Rouse.

Tampa Bay – First Level

  • Ben Grieve spent 3 seasons in Tampa, but never really lived up to the expectations of his performance upon his arrival. He hit .254/.364/.399 with 34 home runs, 153 runs batted in, 15 stolen bases, and 162 runs scored. He became a free agent after the 2003 season, and left Tampa. It does not appear that Grieve earned the Devil Rays any draft pick compensation.

Kansas City – First Level

  • Angel Berroa made his debut with the Royals in 2001, but did not become a regular until 2003, when he won the AL Rookie of the Year award.  He was with the Royals through 2007, and posted a .263/.305/.384 line with 45 home runs, 235 runs batted in, 50 stolen bases and 293 runs scored in 627 games. He was traded during the 2008 season to the Dodgers for minor leaguer Juan Rivera, who has not played in the Majors.
  • A.J. Hinch spent 2 seasons as the backup catcher for the Royals, getting into a total of 117 games and posting lackluster numbers. He was released after the 2002 season.
  • Roberto Hernandez also spent 2 seasons with the Royals, both as their closer. In 116 appearances, he posted an 8-16 record with 54 saves and 185 strikeouts in 218 innings pitched. He filed for free agency after the 2002 season. It does not appear that the Royals received any compensation picks for losing Hernandez.

Oakland – Second Level

  • Nick Swisher spent 4 seasons with Oakland, mostly split between CF, RF, and 1B. He hit .251/.361/.464 with 80 home runs and 255 runs batted in. His 2006 and 2007 seasons were both 3.8+ WAR, but was traded after the 2007 season to the White Sox for OF Ryan Sweeney and minor league pitchers Fautino de los Santos and Gio Gonzalez.
  • Mark Teahen never played for the Athletics, but was included in the Carlos Beltran trade made during the 2004 season.

Oakland – Third Level

  • Ryan Sweeney has been in the Majors with the A’s since 2008, and has hit reasonably well to this point. So far, he has hit .293/.349/.395 with 12 homeruns, 15 stolen bases, and 119 runs batted in. Both of his full seasons thus far have been 2+ WAR each.
  • Gio Gonzalez had been going back and forth between Oakland and AAA Sacramento last season, but appears to have finally stuck this season. So far with the A’s, Gonzalez is 12-14 with a 5.43 ERA. He’s struck out 189 batters in 187 1/3 innings, but has also walked 105 so far.
  • Fautino de los Santos continues to be a bit of an enigma, as he is still very young, and has not pitched very much for the A’s minor league affiliates.

Overall Reactions

At the time, this seemed like a reasonable enough trade. But in the end, it really looks like the Devil Rays (now the Rays) got fleeced pretty badly. They gave up a starting pitcher who was respectable at least (Lidle), a solid all-around infielder (Ellis), and a closer (Hernandez) to get an outfielder who really didn’t play all that well once he got to Tampa (Grieve). The Royals at least got some value out of Berroa for a few seasons, and Hernandez as well. The winners of this trade, clearly, appear to be the A’s. Not only did they get a season of Damon, but they also got quite a bit of production out of the players that they received in return for losing him to free agency. Throw in that they also got Ellis who has become an all-around solid 2B for the A’s, and to me it’s a slam dunk that the A’s did the best on this trade. Unfortunately it seems that a lot of the trades that were made during the Chuck LaMar era in Tampa Bay ended similarly to this.

Team Preview – Oakland Athletics


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Kurt Suzuki SP 1 Ben Sheets
1B Daric Barton SP 2 Justin Duchscherer
2B Mark Ellis SP 3 Brett Anderson
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff SP 4 Trevor Cahill
SS Cliff Pennington SP 5 Dallas Braden
LF Rajai Davis Bullpen
CF Coco Crisp CL Andrew Bailey
RF Ryan Sweeney RP Brad Ziegler
DH Jack Cust RP Joey Devine
Bench RP Michael Wuertz
IF Jake Fox RP Craig Breslow
IF Eric Chavez RP Gio Gonzalez

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff Trade (SD) OF Aaron Cunningham Trade (SD)
SP Ben Sheets Free Agency OF Scott Hairston Trade (SD)
IF Jake Fox Trade (CHC)

Top Prospects: Chris Carter (1B), Michael Taylor (OF), Michael Ynoa (P), Grant Green (SS), Max Stassi (C)

2009 Review

The Athletics came into the 2009 season with the hopes that they would be able to compete in what appeared to be a weakened AL West. They had made the blockbuster trade to acquire OF Matt Holliday in the offseason, and had made some potentially excellent value signings in SS Orlando Cabrera and 1B Jason Giambi. However, the team was once again decimated by injuries, and quickly fell out of contention. By July, the discussion was when the A’s would trade free-agent-to-be Matt Holliday, not if. They were able to get some solid return on trades including Holliday and SS Orlando Cabrera also.

The A’s did have some bright spots during the season. SP Josh Outman pitched well (4-1, 3.48) prior to getting hurt. SP Brett Anderson (11-11, 4.06) and SP Trevor Cahill (10-13, 4.63) both pitched well in their first full season. The standout, to be sure, was AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey (6-3, 1.84, 26 sv). On the offense, OF Rajai Davis (.305, 41 SB) and C Kurt Suzuki (.274, 15 HR) were the shining stars.

Team Outlook for 2010

As has been the problem in recent years, again coming into 2010 the A’s look strapped for offense. They are hopeful that IF Eric Chavez will be able to provide some production, whether it be at 3B or somewhere else on the diamond. They brought back OF/DH Jack Cust, who should continue to provide some solid power, even at the cost of a low batting average. A full season of SS Cliff Pennington and OF Rajai Davis will also be a welcome addition.

This really looks like a team that could compete, but only if everything falls their way. They need an All-Star caliber season out of free agent signee Ben Sheets, and improvements across the entirety of the pitching staff. They need 1B Daric Barton to return to the form that made him a top prospect. And they need pretty much everyone else in the lineup to improve again this season, whether it be through health or through better production. If this doesn’t happen, look for the A’s to deal Sheets, and potentially Justin Duchscherer as well at the trade deadline.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

The A’s are a bit shallow when it comes to fantasy talent. C Kurt Suzuki, OF Rajai Davis, SP Brett Anderson and CL Andrew Bailey are probably the top talents. SP Ben Sheets remains a very high-upside, high-risk player, but could definitely pay off for fantasy owners. In deeper leagues, 2B Mark Ellis and SS Cliff Pennington could potentially provide value, as well as SP Dallas Braden and Justin Duchscherer.

Prediction for 2010

The A’s simply haven’t gotten better by enough in my opinion to make a legitimate run at the division title. The rest of the division is simply too much better at this point. They will do well to continue letting their top prospects develop, and hopefully will compete in 2011.

79-83, 4th in the AL West