Let's try a new feature here at MLBTR. I'll start going through teams and identifying positions they need to fill as well as positions that might be considered surpluses. For lack of a better name it'll be called Needs and Luxuries. We'll begin with the A's.
For each team I'm going to set up the roster as seen below. I won't include backups for position players. I won't go into the full pitching staffs to keep it simple.
C - Kurt Suzuki
1B - Daric Barton/Dan Johnson
2B - Mark Ellis/Donnie Murphy
SS - Bobby Crosby/Marco Scutaro
3B - Eric Chavez
LF - Travis Buck
CF - Mark Kotsay/Chris Denorfia/Chris Snelling
RF - Nick Swisher
DH - Jack Cust
SP - Dan Haren
SP - Joe Blanton
SP - Chad Gaudin
SP - Lenny DiNardo
SP - Rich Harden/Dan Meyer/Colby Lewis/Dallas Braden
Closer - Huston Street
Setup - Alan Embree/Justin Duchscherer
The A's are an interesting club in that they're trying to compete on a small-time payroll. Realistically I could say that they need a solid, healthy center fielder to give some stability at that position. I see Swisher and Buck as future corner guys. But we know the A's are not going to make a major signing to fill center field. They'll try to eke some value out of Kotsay in the last year of his deal. They'll hope Snelling can somehow stay healthy. I think their best long-term bet is Denorfia, who will be recovered from elbow surgery by next season. He could be a quiet steady presence in the coming years, and should have the defensive chops.
The A's have some options in center but I think they should look outside of the organization for a shortstop. A healthy and productive Crosby seems a long shot at this point. He's signed through '09, so I think you just do what you can with that ugly contract and bring someone else in. Maybe sign Juan Uribe on the cheap and give him a fresh start. Perhaps try to match up with the Braves by offering up a Joe Blanton for Yunel Escobar. The less adventurous and most likely option is to just go with Marco Scutaro.
First baseman Dan Johnson is a luxury, sort of. He seems like he might be able to muster up an .800 OPS and help some team like the Twins at DH. Even though Johnson isn't great the A's need to make sure Barton is ready before unloading him. Barton seemed on the verge after hitting .454 in Triple A in June, but he was very disappointing in July and August. First base might be a surplus for the A's at some point but it isn't right now.
We can probably call starting pitching a luxury for the A's. While the cast has changed, Oakland has typically had a strong rotation in recent years. Even if you're not sold on Gaudin and DiNardo as 4.00 ERA guys, we have to assume Billy Beane can dig up more of these types. And if Beane's best at finding unappreciated starters, then he might be able to part with Blanton or Haren. Haren is signed cheaply through 2010; Blanton hasn't reached arbitration yet. The discussion for either would begin with two top-flight prospects, hopefully position players. The A's could revamp the left side of their infield with say, Andy LaRoche and Chin-Lung Hu. The Angels have the goods as well but don't match up well. Almost any team in baseball would have interest in Blanton or Haren. Beane should shoot for a shorstop, third baseman, and top pitching prospect.
I wouldn't call Eric Chavez a luxury, though the A's may shop him because of his contract. Trading him would require a third baseman in return, or else they'd just open up another hole. There are no top prospects nipping at Chavez's heels.
Thoughts on Oakland's needs and luxuries as well as the new feature?
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