2007 Oakland Athletics

Next up in our refreshed team outlooks, the A’s.

Billy Beane’s contract obligations:

C – Jason Kendall – $8MM
C – Adam Melhuse – $0.815MM
1B – Dan Johnson – $0.38MM
2B – Mark Ellis – $3.5MM
SS – Bobby Crosby – $2.5MM
3B – Eric Chavez – $9.5MM
IF – Marco Scutaro – $1.55MM
IF – Antonio Perez – $0.5MM
LF – Nick Swisher – $0.38MM
CF – Mark Kotsay – $7.5MM
RF – Milton Bradley – $4MM
OF – Bobby Kielty – $2.1MM
OF – Shannon Stewart – $1MM + incentives
DH – Mike Piazza – $8.5MM

SP – Esteban Loaiza – $7MM
SP – Dan Haren – $2.2MM
SP – Rich Harden – $2MM
SP – Joe Blanton – $0.38MM 
SP – Joe Kennedy – $2.8MM

RP – Alan Embree – $2.25MM
RP – Kiko Calero – $1.6MM
RP – Jay Witasick – $1.5MM
RP – Justin Duchscherer – $1.1875MM
RP – Chad Gaudin – $0.38MM
RP – Huston Street – $0.38MM
RP – Brad Halsey – $0.38MM

On the fringe: Halsey, Perez, Lenny Dinardo, Ryan Goleski, Jay Marshall

It appears to be a $72MM payroll.  As you’ll notice, the A’s have a bit of a roster crunch if everyone is healthy.  I’ve listed 26 players because I’m not sure who gets sent down or dealt.  It seems one of Halsey or Perez won’t break camp with the team, as the A’s don’t want Piazza as the backup catcher.  One injury or trade may solve this problem.  Two injuries/trades could clear space for an interesting Rule 5 project like Goleski.      

Johnson seems the favorite to earn the first base job, and maybe correction of his double vision can help him return to average 1B production.  I know he’s got it in him.  If I’m wrong, Erubiel Durazo or Daric Barton will get a shot.

The position players are otherwise locked in, but how many times will we see that starting eight on the field at once?  Johnson, Kendall, and Swisher may be the only guys to avoid the DL this year out of the group.  To be fair, Kotsay is always kind of day-to-day with his back but he’s stayed on the field the past few seasons.  As for Chavez – is he the picture of health or are his injuries a major concern?  Both those articles came out on the same day.  And you know all about the issues of Crosby, Ellis, and Bradley.  The team’s defense appears well above average when the regulars are on the field.

Haren and Blanton are the two starters who can be counted on for 30+ starts.  Loaiza doesn’t scare me much, and Kennedy can be replaced by numerous candidates if he can’t handle the switch to starting.  Jason Windsor might be able to hurl some 85mphers past Vlad and co as the sixth man.  Harden is the wild card.  He’s got ace potential but has been derailed for years since a blister rippled into a sprained elbow ligament.  He’s the difference maker, as this is a pitching and defense team in my opinion.

The bullpen is deep; this team should be involved in plenty of low-scoring games.  A power core of Swisher/Piazza/Chavez can be quite good, with a solid supporting cast.  It’s true the A’s had some bad luck on certain injuries last year, but they’ll need a similar amount of career years healthwise to be an AL superpower.

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