Oakland AthleticsManager: Bob Melvin
Stadium: Oakland Coliseum
2007 Record: 76-86 (3rd in AL West)
Team Page | Roster | Schedule
2007: Batting Stats | Runs Scored (ranked 11th in AL)
|2008 FANTASY PROJECTIONS|
|OFF THE BENCH|
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The A's might be peaking in March -- they had the best record in Arizona before jetting to Japan. GM Billy Beane now has a golden opportunity to evaluate their young talent as Oakland moves into full-bore rebuilding mode. Barton, who hit .347 in an 18-game tryout in September, could be special. Denorfia, who hit .349 in Triple-A in 2006 before missing all of 2007 (elbow surgery), is a real wild card. If he falters, the A's could be in on Coco Crisp. They are crossing their fingers that Crosby, raking the ball this spring, finally stays healthy.
As usual, their weakness is in the trainers' room. Third baseman Eric Chavez, a six-time Gold Glove winner, didn't go to Japan while still recovering from offseason back surgery. He was limited to 90 games last year. Also on the mend is outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (hamstring), the prize acquisition from Arizona in the Dan Haren trade. With the exception of one year from Frank Thomas, the A's have struggled to find a right-handed power bat since Miguel Tejada defected to Baltimore in 2004. Sweeney is their latest hope, but speaking of trouble staying healthy ... he's played in just 134 games in the past two years.
HITTER TO WATCH:
Daric Barton's time has come. At worst, he's a capable first baseman who will hit for average, draw a slew of walks and show doubles power. There still is a chance he will develop into something more.
PITCHER TO WATCH:
Take your pick. Gio Gonzalez racks up K's with offspeed stuff, but his fastball is fringy. Greg Smith has a little more fastball and a great pickoff move, but he won't miss quite as many bats. Fernando Hernandez, a Rule 5 pick from the White Sox, could stick as the 12th man. The A's top pick from last year, James Simmons, isn't far off. And power arms Henry Rodriguez and Fautino de los Santos could zoom up the system this year.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.
JUST THE FACTS
• The A's are rebuilding. Through the Dan Haren and Nick Swisher trades,
GM Billy Beane collected a number of prospects who will have a major effect ... in 2010.
• And they're not done dealing. The A's discussed trading durable right-hander Joe Blanton this winter, and it's likely he'll be gone by the July deadline.
• Rich Harden has a point to make. Shoulder, oblique and elbow issues have limited Harden to less than 200 total innings over the past three years. He intends to quiet the persistent doubts about his desire.
• Daric Barton offers hope. With a .414 OBP in the minors and more walks than strikeouts, he's a player around which the A's can build their lineup. If the 22-year-old first baseman develops power, he'll be a star.
"The Athletics have too many questions to contend in a more competitive AL West," a scout from the East says. "They're completely focused on their plan to rebuild, and they're in for a long year. "
"Beane's an innovative thinker. He's what we'd call a New Democrat, because he doesn't believe in deficit spending." -- Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif.
-- Buster Olney
How many games will the A's win in 2008? Do they have the top lineup, rotation, bullpen or manager in their division? Did they do the best job improving their team in the offseason with the acquisition of young talent? Register your vote.
Mark Ellis hit .286 with 11 homers in the second half of last year. He will bat in a run-producing lineup spot, and he's in a contract year. He could crack the top 10 at second base.
Every year, Rich Harden fools us with a spring training that suggests he's finally healthy. Once the regular season begins, though, he gets hurt as usual. Don't get tricked.
-- Pete Becker
Rich Harden doesn't like the injury-prone tag, but with only 25 2/3 innings played in 2007 and only nine games in 2006, all because of injury, it is understandable that the label has stuck. He is determined to prove otherwise in 2008, and so far, he looks like he just might. Non-specific shoulder problems have been his biggest challenge recently, but his extended rehabilitation, along with some mechanical adjustments, might have done the trick. He has had a solid spring and, most importantly, a pain-free one. Given his history, it is impossible to rule out symptom recurrence, but right now, all signs are positive for Harden and the Athletics.
-- Stephania Bell