Some tidbits absorbed from staring at the A’s roster:
- The outfielder with the most seniority on the A’s 25-man roster is Travis Buck.
- The outfielder with the most seniority on the A’s 40-man roster is Javier Herrera. Herrera has never played in the major leagues.
- The outfielder who has played the most games in an Oakland uniform is Jack Cust.
- The outfielder who has played the most games in a major league uniform is Emil Brown.
- Every player on the roster was born in either the 70s (9 players) or 80s (31 players).
- The A’s have six players over 30 years old.
- The A’s have three players over 31 years old.
- Alan Embree is the only player on the roster who was alive during Richard Nixon’s presidency.
- The A’s have seven players born after I graduated high school in 1984.
- Eleven more players were born in 1983.
- Henry Rodriguez, the youngest player on the 40-man roster, will turn 21 in February.
- Rodriguez is also the lightest player, at 175 lbs.
- Joe Blanton is the heaviest, at 250 lbs.
- Five players are tied for shortest, at 5′ 10".
- The tallest players are Jerry Blevins and Andrew Brown, 6′ 6".
- If not for Rodriguez, Blevins would have the odd honor of being both the tallest and lightest player on the team. He only weighs 185 lbs.
- Eight players bat left, throw left. Of these, five are pitchers.
- Eight players bat left, throw right. Of these, one is a pitcher (Rich Harden).
- Dan Meyer is the only Rickey Henderson on the team: Bats Right, Throws Left.
- The only switch hitters on the roster are catchers: Rob Bowen and Landon Powell.
That last point leads to a particularly painful thought about the 2008 A’s lineup (as it stands today): their best four, and possibly five, hitters are all left-handed. Without the switch-hitting Swisher in the middle of the lineup, it’s hard to construct a lineup that doesn’t make it easy for an opposing manager to just run out his LOOGY during a critical point in the game to cut down the A’s offense. If you want to avoid that, you have to inject Chris Denorfia and/or Mark Ellis higher into the order than you ordinarily would based on their OBP/SLGs. Maybe you run out the projected lineup like this (Position, Name, Handedness, ZIPS projected OBP/SLG):
- RF, Travis Buck, L, .360/.458
- 2B, Mark Ellis, R, .335/.418
- 1B, Daric Barton, L, .369/.440
- 3B, Eric Chavez, L, .341/.453
- CF, Chris Denorfia, R, .350/.438
- DH, Jack Cust, L, .394/.470
- SS, Bobby Crosby, R, .305/.353
- LF, Ryan Sweeney, L, .326/.374
- C, Kurt Suzuki, R, .325/.369
Perhaps you swap Chavez and Cust, but I personally hate having pure three-true-outcome types in the middle of the lineup; I think they fit best batting sixth or seventh, at the tail end of a string of good hitters instead of in the middle. I don’t have any numbers to support this belief, but from years of watching, I much prefer my cleanup guys to be able to adjust their game to the game situation, and the TTO guys only play one way. (The lineup tool wants Cust to hit leadoff, by the way.)
Another thing of note: Every player in that lineup except Sweeney and Crosby is projected by ZiPS for an OBP above the average player at his position. Now, swap out Sweeney with Barry Bonds. How’s that lineup look now? Is it actually–dare we say it?–good?
With good pitching, I think you can win with that lineup. The problem remains this: in order to achieve Victory 2008! we are still counting on a healthy rotation consisting of Rich Harden, Justin Duchscherer, Chad Gaudin, Joe Blanton, and one clear winner from the group of Eveland/DiNardo/Meyer/Braden. If the three hurt guys stay hurt, and the rotation looks more like Blanton/Eveland/DiNardo/Meyer/Braden most of the season, the A’s ain’t gonna win any titles, even if their lineup looks like the New York Yankees.