Keeping The Athleticism

The irony of the name “Athletics” for this type of team isn’t going to fly over my head any time soon.

A better idea I concocted would be for the team to re-capture the elephant essence of yesteryear and have Stomper lead the charge for these outcasted Ringling Bros. A 27 year old rookie, Coco Crisp (Afro included with purchase), a bespectacled Eric Sogard, a professional sports card collecting pitcher and about 15 broken toys from other teams fused together form the composition of this peculiar circus. Their out-of-nowhere second half surge from the all-star break onward resulted in a 51-25 record from July-October and the division crown sitting atop their skulls. Talk about a hyphy movement for the Oakland Elephants.

Unless you’re speaking monetarily and your name is William Bradley Pitt, the concept of Moneyball hasn’t exactly paid off in recent times. Well to be exact, I should say Billy Beane’s concept of Moneyball for his own team hasn’t paid off in 6 years. It doesn’t take away his impact towards the game, he lit the torch for sabermetrics on a practical scale at the GM level and has watched closely, perched upon Grizzly Hills as other teams prospered since his last playoff appearance in 2006.

A review of last season isn’t needed to validate this team. The real challenge is continuing and improving on a core of players that most casual fans have never even heard of.

The tinkering (unexpectedly) officially started today when the Athletics acquired Chris Young from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Chris Young is the perfect archetype for the sort of player that Billy Beane loves to hoard – he’s a mostly overlooked hitter that was buried in the desert, has a bat with decent pop (20-30 home run power), and an OBP that would rank 10th in batters that had 30+ games for the Athletics in 2011-2012. His .311 OBP is sort of an outlier from recent years since it dropped from .341 in 2011, and .331 in 2012 respectively.

He may be the second Diamondback turned Athletic to work out in as many years. The prequel featured the success story of Jarrod Parker, a rookie who was traded to the Athletics for Trevor Cahill. He proved to be a vital organ in the A’s body. Jarrod Parker was the staple for the Athletics pitching staff, surprising fans with a 13-10 record, a 3.47 ERA and only 11 home runs given up in 181 innings.  While a definitive strength last season, the 2013-2014 pitching staff may prove to be a bit of a mystery once spring training hits. Bartolo Colon seems to be out of the equation after his HGH rendezvous, and oft-injured but important veteran Brandon McCarthy may be tempted to test free agency waters so a comeback is not certain in his case even though he is quoted that he would not mind returning.

A great season from Parker, Milone and 3 unproven starters may prove difficult to duplicate if the A’s find themselves in the similar position next year. Injuries to Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson will have them up in the air with effectiveness, and as far as I’m concerned until I see limbs not falling off once they get to camp, then I can feel a bit better about the staff for next season. The latter, Brett Anderson, showed poise in his one offseason start but with injuries sidetracking him every year since 2009, it’s hard to get your hopes up too high. The front office “splurging” in this area would not be a bad idea, considering that they boast the lowest payroll in the league. I will eliminate Zack Greinke from the equation.  That leaves the option of Shaun Marcum, Jake Peavy, Hiroki Kuroda, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson and Anibal Sanchez as the best “catch” that fits the Oakland Athletics. Each and every one of these players may want caviar that is a little too expensive for the A’s. and the A’s have no problem telling them to shop elsewhere. Hey, it’s not the worst thing to be a cheap date sometimes.

The dichotomy between both the Angels and Rangers whom are in the Athletics division may become the most entertaining and relevant thing to follow in the off-season rather than the actual Athletics if you’re an A’s fan. The modern day Murderer’s Row(boat) that the Texas Rangers have is sinking as Josh Hamilton looks to be on the outs, and the Los Angeles Angels may likewise lose Greinke. I don’t think it sits well with either team that the Oakland Athletics did so well with the payroll and pieces that they hoodwinked the division with. To be honest, I can’t exactly give the A’s better odds for next season as both teams will likely regroup, and you can’t ignore the fact that the Angels still have Mike Trout and Albert Pujols roaming around, waiting to bash any object that comes near.

Yoenis Cespedes (a rare A’s splurge) who has since become an avid fisherman that enjoys a hearty lunch of trout sashimi would have won rookie of the year any year but 2012. The next step for the Oakland Athletics offense which I haven’t talked about much since I don’t think it needs to be messed (unless an obvious upgrade) with will be the development of Derek Norris. The Yoenorris combination has a chance to become something special. If you add in Michael Choice and he succeeds at the MLB level, the sky is the limit (for the next few years).

A very early prediction has me inclined to say that the Angels who severely underperformed last season will take the division, and the A’s will battle it out with the Rangers for the 2nd best record. Of course these teams may look totally different by April, but as of now that’s what my head is telling me.

With Billy Beane running the show, the Athletics will always go against the grain. The reward will be richer, but how many players will go by the wayside if they fail to win in the relatively small time period they have before getting paid? Is it worth it in the long run when the 2003 Florida Marlins are the only low payroll team to win a championship recently? Will the farm surprise us yet again?

The Oakland Athletics are going to let the lack of money do the talking.

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