Previewing the 2012 Athletics | Interview Series
Over the course of the next month or two, we will be previewing the Yankees’ competition in the American League. To do this, I will interview one blog for each team in the league.
With Spring Training approaching quickly, we’ll finish this interview series up with the AL West. Let’s start with the Oakland A’s. I had the pleasure of interviewing David Wishinsky of the Todd Van Poppel Rookie Card Retirement Plan. It is important to note that this interview took place before Yoenis Cespedes signed with the A’s.
1. In 2011, the Athletics went 74-88 finishing in 3rd place ahead of the Mariners. What could Oakland have done a better job at to achieve more success?
First and foremost the A’s featured an anemic offense. David DeJesus, Hideki Matsui, Mark Ellis, Daric Barton to name just a few put in career worst years. Josh Willingham had a lot of home runs but his other offensive numbers were down. Kevin Kouzmanoff failed to hit, Coco Crisp had a terrible on-base-percentage for a leadoff hitter and Kurt Suzuki had another disappointing season. Basically there was little to nothing positive about the offensive contributions from the 2011 A’s. Two bright spots, were Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore‘s additions. They both did a decent job to be sparks in the second half, but it was at that point too little too late.
I loved the first half of the A’s offseason. The haul that came back in particular for Gio Gonzalez was incredible given that he is a guy who had some serious upisde but some very serious flaws (a lack of control namely). The take for Trevor Cahill was great as they have a potential future ace in Jarrod Parker. While I wasn’t as enamored of the price we paid in the trade of Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to acquire Josh Reddick, Raul Alcantara and Miles Head (who I am unimpressed by) it was still a good deal to convert a reliever with injury problems into some future pieces. The second half of the offseason after the New Year, I am much less impressed by. The signing of Coco Crisp was terrilble, especially given that it was two years, the trade for Seth Smith – who is an intriguing ballplayer mind you – took two players who could have served as a needed block to protect our new young starters (Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso) and then in turn blocked prospects in the outfield where it seemed like we’d have a chance to see who we have that could pan out. I liked the signing of Bartolo Colon for that very reason that it means not all these young guys need to start in MLB, but I didn’t like the Jonny Gomes signing for the fact that it again served to block guys like Michael Taylor and Brandon Allen. So it is overall a mixed bag. Signing a DH would in my mind be more blocking of young guys and would be a poor decision, but acquiring another starter would be something I’d be fine with.
3. What is the general feeling about the extensions of GM Billy Beane and Team President Michael Crowley?
Beane is divisive among fans of the game in general and among A’s fans it is the same way. I personally think he is great and was very happy to hear about the extension. I think it is a good sign that there will be movement on the stadium/relocation front which is welcomed to make the A’s be a team that can compete with the best year-in, year-out. With respect to Crowley, I am not entirely sure what he does, so sure, I have no problem with him being extended.
4. How do you feel about the team’s continued efforts towards moving from Oakland to a new ballpark in San Jose?
Oakland is not going to happen. The move isn’t a Brooklyn to Los Angeles or even Montreal to Washington type move where following the team becomes difficult or impossible. 30 miles is not 3,000 miles and I welcome a move to San Jose and the accoutrements that come with it, hopefully a higher revenue team that can compete with the Angels, Mariners and Rangers not only on the diamond but in terms of vying for free agents as well.
5. How does the A’s farm system look heading into the 2012 season? Building off that, are there any prospects that could have an impact on this year’s MLB club?
The farm system is radically different because of the trades of December. I am really excited about Jarrod Parker, Brad Parker, Derek Norris, A.J. Cole and Tom Milone. As for guys who were in the A’s system before those deals, Michael Choice is the one who offers the most intrigue to me closely followed by Sonny Gray. I think this year Milone will make the biggest impact, I think he will slot in well as a #4 or #5 starter and will really flourish by pitching in the Coliseum. With his miniscule walk rates he could have a strong year much like Brandon McCarthy did in 2011. Long-term I expect big things out of Jarrod Parker and am excited to see him develop into a true ace.
6. Lastly, how do you project the team will do in 2012?
We are rebuilding. I would’ve liked to have seen Oakland do more of a Houston strip it to the bare bones type rebuild but they are instead taking a lets win a few in 2012 along the way type method. Around New Year’s I’d have said this was a 64-67 win team that will likely have a #2 draft pick in the amateur draft. I think the moves they’ve made means they ultimately are probably more of a 70-74 win team. That should be good enough for last place as I think the M’s will show more improvement in 2012.