Senioritis
by Ken Arneson
2008-08-03 0:13

The trade deadline came and went, as I suspected, without another trade by the A’s. Justin Duchscherer, Alan Embree, Huston Street, Mark Ellis and Bobby Crosby are still going to be hanging out in Oaktown for a little while longer.

As I write this, I’m sitting here watching the A’s get their butts kicked by the Red Sox, feeling curiously detatched about the whole affair.  The lack of activity at the trade deadline was a bit disappointing.  As much as I love Mark Ellis and Justin Duchscherer, I’m ready to move on. 

It’s like senioritis: we know what college we’re going to go to for the next few years, but here we are still hanging out at the same old school, with the same old classmates, doing the same old work, and the whole scene feels rather pointless.

How many of these current classmates will be going to the new school, the next good A’s team? Let us count to 25 + 4 DL guys*:

Fer sure:
Kurt Suzuki
Daric Barton
Carlos Gonzalez
These guys are the core of the future lineup. Suzuki is already a solid, league-average catcher. Barton and Gonzalez have opposite problems: Barton walks well enough, but has not hit for average; Gonzalez has hit for average, but needs to walk more. But they’re both very young and talented, and should improve enough to stick around for years to come.

Probably:
Ryan Sweeney
Sean Gallagher
Both these guys are producing well enough at the major league to be regular contributors already. But they’re not quite as young as Barton and Gonzalez, they have lower ceilings, and there are a whole lot of talented players in the minors at their positions who could push them out in the future.

Probably (reliever version):
Brad Ziegler
Joey Devine
Andrew Brown*
Jerry Blevins
Santiago Casilla
Relievers are unreliable. They can be great one year, and terrible the next. But this is as good a group of young relievers as you’re going to find. Only Casilla had more than one full year of major league service coming into the season. The A’s will have control of all of these other guys for five more seasons.

Maybe:
Greg Smith
Dana Eveland
Dallas Braden
Jack Cust
Jack Hannahan
Gregorio Petit
The service clocks for Smith, Eveland, and Braden can keep them around for five more years, as well, but there’s so much talent behind them, that it’s hard to imagine they’ll all stay here when those younger pitchers are ready to make it up to the majors. I’m betting that they all get traded as soon as the Cahill/Anderson generation starts pushing for roster spots. Meanwhile, Hannahan and Petit might hang around not because they’re good, but because because SS and 3B are the two positions where the A’s don’t have any really good prospects. Cust is an interesting case; I have a hard time imagining him aging very gracefully. He’s only batting .226 right now…at some point in the next few years, I imagine he’ll go into an extended slump, lose his job to some younger hotshot and never get it back.

Doubtful:
Justin Duchscherer
Huston Street
Mark Ellis
Bobby Crosby
Eric Chavez*
All these guys are young enough to still be in the majors in three or four years, but they’ll all have hit free agency by then. And only Street won’t be in his decline years.

No Way:
Alan Embree
Frank Thomas
Keith Foulke*
Mike Sweeney*
Rajai Davis
Lenny DiNardo
Rob Bowen
The first four are too old, and the rest just aren’t good enough.

The current roster has more relievers of the future than anything else. But relievers are the easiest commodity to find, so even if you project Brad Ziegler to not give up a run for five more years, it’s still not enough to put dreams of pennants dancing in your head. It’s hard to watch a team when half the batting order and most of the starting rotation are simply placeholders. We’re bored of this limbo. We want to see our new campus, and meet our new classmates. The future can’t get here soon enough.

Comments: 5
1.   Oakland Si
2008-08-03 09:01

1.  actually, Ryan Sweeney is only four months older than Barton

2.   Vishal
2008-08-03 12:04

2.  man, if you get a leadoff triple in an inning and you can't score, you are a crummy baseball team. i know dice-k is good, but come on.

3.   Ken Arneson
2008-08-03 12:34

3.  2 Yeah, that's the old work-the-count fallacy showing up again for the A's. Drives me nuts. With a runner on third and less that two outs, you do NOT want to work the count. You need to put the ball in play first chance you get. Hannahan and Crosby both got first pitch fastballs that they took for strikes. Dice-K threw them nothing but benders the rest of the ABs, and struck 'em both out.

4.   Jason Wojciechowski
2008-08-08 05:21

4.  Following up on 1 , Gallagher's only 22, four months younger than Barton, two months younger than Gonzalez, and almost two years younger than Suzuki.

I agree that his ceiling isn't as high as Barton's or Gonzalez's, but I think he can be a good 2-4 starter, which is about the equivalent of Kurt Suzuki's upside, I think (top-halfish catcher).

5.   Jason Wojciechowski
2008-08-08 05:23

5.  Oh, also, yeah, Street won't be in his decline phase in 3-4 years, but that's only because he's in his decline phase now and, at his current rate, he'll be lucky to be in the league in 3-4 years.

But that's probably just the frustration talking.

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