In addition to exploiting lefty-righty matchups, the A's also have a significant edge in the air.
The Oakland Athletics finished 2013 with baseball's fourth-lowest payroll, fourth-best offense, and best clubhouse chemistry. Debate hascentered on whether the latter two are related. There’s nothing objectionable about “good guy” genes—it’s a solid organizational goal to have. But chemistry alone doesn’t put runs on the board, and if a team is missing the talent, they better find the runs elsewhere. The 2002 Athletics discovered them in walk deities and college arms; once those methods pervaded front offices, the A’s slipped back into losing. Was chemistry the only undervalued commodity of their recent resurgence?
As the baseball community obtains more knowledge, roster construction strategies evolve. Previously undervalued talents like walks and defense are now accepted constructs. The A’s are Hollywood-infamous for adopting them before their competitors while prices were low. After a 74-win 2011, they cheaply signed Brandon Inge and Jonny Gomes, who Brandon McCarthy claimed bolstered the clubhouse DNA to the tune of 20 wins. But Inge and Gomes were two of several players who also bolstered a less-visible statistic: fly ball-to-ground ball ratio.
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Looking at some first-time starters in 2013 to see which ones will stick.
For every top talent like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado who claims a regular role from the moment he makes the majors, there’s a veteran who bounces around for years while he waits his turn for a chance to start somewhere. The following 10 players are looking to make the leap to full-time starter status this season. But do they have what it takes to succeed in their expanded roles, or will they be busted back to the bench?
Brandon Moss, Athletics, 1B
Moss’ power output was impressive last season, but it was partially a product of aggressive platooning by Bob Melvin, who limited him to only 62 PA against lefties. Chris Carter’s departure opens a path to more playing time for Moss (and speaks to Oakland’s confidence that he can repeat his success), but it will also make it more difficult to protect him against southpaws. Can he stick? No. A’s batting coach Chili Davis worked closely with Moss to get him to embrace his pull power, so it’s possible that his pre-2012 stats are deceptive. But the 29-year-old’s projection isn’t pretty: .238/.301/.421 with subpar secondary skills, which wouldn’t come close to cutting it at first base.
A look at 10 new managerial candidates, and a conversation with Mets manager Terry Collins.
The All-Star break is coming into view, yet no managers have been fired this season. In fact, there have been only a few reports of any of the 30 major-league skippers even possibly being in trouble. But it will eventually happen. Some owner will finally get fed up, drop the axe, and his club will begin a managerial search.
Though we had fewer trades this week than we've had in recent years, we did have more big-ticket trades, beginning with the CC Sabathia-to-Milwaukee deal, and culminating in the Manny Ramirez blockbuster trade to the Dodgers. This was overall a fairly satisfying trade period, even if there were more fizzles than trades on deadline day Thursday. When evaluating these deals from a fantasy perspective, often it's the ancillary effects that are the most interesting. After all, there's not much to analyze in terms of what Ramirez, Mark Teixeira, Jason Bay, or even Casey Kotchman might do. We'll instead train the vast majority of our focus on how the rest of the dominoes fall, starting with the two major deals on Saturday.
Transactions galore: the Yankees practice running in place; the Red Sox beef up their bullpen; the Giants aquire a starter for the postseason; the A's add a little power to their outfield; and the Reds throw up the white flag, but get some pretty good arms in return. All this and much more news from around the league in your post-Trading Deadline edition of Transaction Analysis.