The Athletics’ 2011 Rotation

Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Dallas BradenGio Gonzalez, and Vin Mazzaro are all 27 or younger, and all five pitchers have ERAs under 4.00 this year. That doesn't tell the whole story, of course, but it shows that the A's have a formidable group of young arms. 

There's no reason to expect the A's to change course next year, as long as those five pitchers stay healthy. They should be effective again (xFIP, a fielding-independent stat that evaluates pitchers based on walk, strikeout and grounder rates, has all five starters at 4.33 or below, so they don't appear to be succeeding on luck) and they will all be affordable. Only Braden, who goes to arbitration for the first time, will earn more than $750K in 2011. 

Basically every team MLBTR has analyzed so far could pursue starting pitching this winter. The Brewers, Dodgers, D'Backs, Padres and Nationals all seem likely to consider free agent starters this offseason and even the Reds could actively pursue pitching. Last winter, the A's signed Justin Duchscherer and Ben Sheets to high-risk, high-reward deals, but don't expect GM Billy Beane to do the same this winter. The A's have enough starting pitching to get by without aggressive forays into the trade or free agent markets.

The A's have potential starters in the bullpen, on the DL and the minor leagues. Reliever Tyson Ross succeeded as a starter throughout his minor league career, so Oakland could stretch him back into a starting role. Before the season, Baseball America said Ross has "middle-of-the-rotation stuff, and possibly more." Boof Bonser, now in the 'pen, also has experience as a starter, but there's no guarantee that the A's offer Bonser arbitration, since his 2011 salary could be in the $1MM range.

Josh Outman, who started 12 games for the A's last year, will be an option if he recovers from the elbow issues that have sidelined him for most of the season.

If and when the A's encounter injuries, they can also call on minor leaguers for depth. Former first-rounder Clayton Mortensen has posted a 4.14 ERA and struck out 2.4 times as many batters as he has walked at Triple A this year and rotation-mate Travis Banwart has struck out more than a batter per inning. A couple pickups from the Mexican League, Bobby Cramer and Yadel Marti, provide depth and intrigue, if nothing else.

Ross, Outman, Mortensen et al. are not necessarily the sort of starters the A's would choose to rely on, but the A's don't have to rely on them. They have a quintet of effective young starters and can call on their organizational depth when they need it. Beane and the rest of the front office would presumably be open-minded about adding pitching this winter, but they can focus on the lineup or the bullpen, since the A's don't need to add starting pitching. 

20 Responses to The Athletics’ 2011 Rotation Leave a Reply

  1. zonis 5 years ago

    The A’s rotation is as strong as their lineup is weak.

    Offense should be the first priority, and they do have money with so much coming off the books. The biggest weakness of the team is Corner Outfield, and what do you know, there are some great Corner Outfielders available this off season, which is we all really want the A’s to go hard after Carl Crawford.

    • moonraker45 5 years ago

      I agree, I haven’t followed them much lately but watching them play the jays the last few days, they have some great arms in the rotation and bullpen. They keep teams off the board but they need a few thumpers in the middle of the lineup. Otherwise things are headed in the right direction.

  2. sincityyanks 5 years ago

    brett anderson makes 1mm next year

  3. alxn 5 years ago

    The A’s have one of the best young cores in the league, and they have money to spend. They should be contending very soon.

  4. jwredsox 5 years ago

    I just wanted to point out that I’m a Brett Anderson fanboy.

  5. Pat_M 5 years ago

    Am I the only one that thinks they do need to add an arm? Brett Anderson has been on the DL twice this year. Gio Gonzalez has flipped around between the majors and minors for what seems like years. Braden, the “veteran”, has only thrown just over 400 major league innings. I don’t think they need to add a difference maker in the rotation, just an innings eater type to be a buffer for the young arms. The team seems like it has the resources to improve the offense and spend $4-5M on another rotation arm – think Jon Garland last offseason. Just my 2 cents

    • zonis 5 years ago

      If they did go for a veteran starter, I’d like them to go after Jorge De La Rosa. He’s a guy who’s FIP is always good, his XFIP even better, and could surely improve to that if he goes to the Coliseum, where pitchers tend to have better ERA than FIP and xFIP.

    • PTBeaneNL 5 years ago

      I agree that adding a sure thing innings eater or a solid #3 pitcher wouldn’t hurt as it gives an option for Beane to maybe trade Gio or Marraro, a young above average arms for a young above average bat… sell high when you can before they fizzle out. As stated in the post, A’s have plenty of arms to try out.

    • eeeooo 5 years ago

      I think they need better minor league depth. Anderson and Braden have both spent time on the DL. So has Ross, whose delivery looks like Tommy John waiting to happen. I think Mazzarro still has to prove he can be consistent for a whole season and Mortenson is just okay. Great rotation, but thin once you get past the 5 guys.

  6. The A’s will be great if they add 2 legitimate bats. Crawford is the ideal and the A’s will have to overpay big time.

    • moonraker45 5 years ago

      I actually don’t think Crawford will improve the club that much. The team already has great base presence and speed. Sure Crawford would look good in any uniform, but it terms of real needs, the A’s would be better off with a power hitter. Perhaps Pena or something.

      • zonis 5 years ago

        He’s a 5-6 WAR player. The A’s have a ton of 2-3 WAR players, and even worse in the corner outfield. He’d be a massive upgrade.

  7. the A’s have the #1 staff in the AL with a 3.55 ERA and are #1 in the MLB post all star with a 2.62 ERA. I would say that’s “effective”.

  8. Got to sign Dunn. I know he doesn’t want to DH and he is a bad fielder, but he is the best power threat on the market. I love him, but trade Barton for a solid bullpen member.

  9. baseballdude 5 years ago

    i dont think oakland will sign a huge bat like werth beltre or magglio but i could see them getting russel branyan and or andrew jones.

  10. coachofall 5 years ago

    Isnt it about time we stop referring to Jason Werth as a Big bat? Guy is a nice complimentary player but he isnt a middle of the order bat he wants to get paid like. I would actually be leary as a GM to forfeit a first round pick to sign him. Don’t be suprised if he is this years Johnny Damon

  11. Manny to DH ?

  12. jpkinney7 5 years ago

    That is a joke, right?

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