Documenting the Athletics – From Philadelphia, to Kansas City, to Oakland and Finally to Fremont
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Kevin Goldstein recently unveiled his list of the top ten A’s prospects in his latest Future Shock column.Â Number one on the list is first basemenÂ Daric Barton.Â Barton is a walk machine and he had a solid season at Triple despite being only 20.Â He won’t break into the A’s lineup in 2007 but it’ll be hard to keep him out in 2008.
Outfielder Travis Buck comes in at second.Â He had a very solid season atÂ Double A.Â Like Barton though, Buck’s season was cut short because of an injury.Â It’ll be interesting seeing both of these guys play at Triple A in 2007.
Rounding out the top five is catcher Kurt Suzuki, Javier Herrera and Jermaine Mitchell.Â The first pitcher isn’t until number seven and that’s right hander Marcus McBeth.
Over the last five years, the players that have left the A’s could make up an All Star team.Â As an A’s fan, you expect it and the latest players to leave are Barry Zito and Frank Thomas.Â The Big Three are no more, at least not the early 2000s version.Â Now the A’s are looking at a division that should be pretty tough.Â The Angels, Rangers and Mariners all made moves that should make them better and the question is, can the A’s keep up.
Ed Williams III seems to think so.Â In his A’s preview talks about how Billy Beane used Mike Piazza to fill the void that Frank Thomas leaves but he was less optimistic about the A’s being able to fill the spot that Barry Zito leaves in the rotation.Â Regardless, if Rich Harden can come back and be the pitcher everyone feels he can be, the A’s should be okay.
Here’s a great story at the Minor League Baseball website that gives a run down on David Shafer.Â It looks like Bob Geren has him pegged for Triple A but a spot on the big league club might not be out of the question with a good spring.
Just a few days after signing Kirk Saarloos, the Athletics have traded him for a relief pitcher in the Reds organization.Â Shafer had a very good season for the Reds Double A affiliate but you also have to be a little careful because he was 24 while doing it and he doesn’t show up as a top ten prospectÂ and barely showed up on Sickels Top 20 List.Â I’m not saying he might not pan out, but he was probably one of the older players on the team.Â He struck out 52 in 49 2/3 innings and he only walked 16.Â Also impressive was they he gave up only two homeruns.Â His worst months were July and August so teams must have figured him out.
You have to give Billy Beane the benefit of the doubt though.Â Saarloos probably wasn’t going to amount to much more then a fifth starter or even a spot starter so the A’s bailed and picked up a potential bullpen candidate.Â Each team also gets a player to be named later so it’ll be interesting to see what happens there.
The A’s signed relief pitcher Justin Duchscherer to a one year, $1,187,500 deal today and the two sides will avoid arbitration.Â While Duchscherer was limited to 55 2/3 innings, he’s one of the best set up men out there.Â His career strikeout ratio is 221 to 67, which is pretty impressive and the right hander holds batters to a career .298 on base percentage.Â He doesn’t give up a lot of hits and he doesn’t walk many batters and he strikes out almost a batter an inning.Â
The A’s settled with another arbitration eligible player as they signed Kirk Saarloos to a one year, $1.2 million deal.Â Basically, the two sides split their differences and there are a couple of incentives that could get him up close to his asking price of $1.475 million.
Saarloos had a tough season in 2006 after a decent 2005 season as the team’s fifth starter.Â In the past three seasons, Saarloos has walked more batters then he’s struck out, and that’s never a good thing.Â It sounds like Saarloos might get another shot in the rotation in 2007 so hopefully he’ll turn that walk problem around.
The Athletics signed three of their arbitration eligible players and in addition, also inked Joe Kennedy to a one year deal.Â The big name was Milton Bradley, who signed for $4 million.Â He had a decent regular season but he really shined come playoff time and he was one of the few A’s to actually hit the ball against the Tigers in the ALCS.Â Scutaro signed for $1.55 million while Calero signed for $1.6 million.
In addition, the A’s signed left handed relief pitcher Joe Kennedy to a one year, $2.8 million deal.Â Kennedy had a very good season in 2006 as the A’s left handed specialist last season and we should expect more of the same from Kennedy in 2006.
Nothing really earth shattering here with the three arbitration eligible guys.Â Bradley could end up being a bargain for $4 million but if he does too well, you’ll probably see the A’s let him depart because he’ll be a free agent after the 2007 season.Â
I talked about this last week but it looks like the Athletics have made Darin Erstad an offer for a one year deal.Â I talked about the pros and cons of Erstad already so check that post out to see where I’m coming from.
Bryan Smith at the Hardball Times recently wrote a column on eight prospects to watch in 2007. One of those prospects is pitcher Vince Mazzaro. Smith talks about how Mazzaro might be the only one of the three high school players taken in the first three rounds of the 2005 draft and while he only had 81 strikeouts in 119 1/3 innings, it’s expected that his strikeout rate will come up.
Mazzaro should start 2007 in High A and he’s only 20 years old (or he will be sometime during the 2007 season. He’s definitely someone to bear watching even if he’s not slated to help the Athletics until some time in 2009.
It looks like the Athletics are interested in centerfielder/firstbaseman Darin Erstad.Â I guess I’m a little surprised because Erstad hasn’t played a full season since 2002 and he hasn’t had a good year at the plate since his career year in 2000.Â He is an incredible centerfielder though and he’d definitely be welcome roaming out in the outfield.Â Maybe not on an everyday basis but maybe as the left handed hitter in a lefty/righty platoon and as a late inning defensive replacement.
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