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The Oakland A’s in 2014

Feb 13, 2012, 6:32 PM EDT

Billy Beane

Though they’ve since made moves geared more for the short-term in re-signing Coco Crisp and trading for Seth Smith, the A’s pretty much gave up on 2012 when they shipped out pitchers Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey for youngsters. That’s still true even after they anted up $36 million for Yoenis Cespedes. Their eyes are clearly on 2014-15, when they hope to have themselves a new stadium in San Jose.

A few days ago, I put in my forecast for Oakland’s 2012 roster. It still could look a whole lot like that, though the early reports suggest the A’s expect to avoid a Triple-A stint and open the season in center field. That could put Coco Crisp in left and Seth Smith at DH or it might result in Josh Reddick‘s demotion from the starting lineup. That’s not at all what’s important, though.

Let’s instead try to figure out what the A’s might look like in 2014, when they’re hopefully ready to contend in the AL West once again.

LHP Brett Anderson
RHP Jarrod Parker
RHP Sonny Gray
RHP Brad Peacock
RHP Tyson Ross

Brandon McCarthy and Dallas Braden should be gone by then. Whether Anderson will still be around is anyone’s guess. He’s under team control through 2015, but the A’s could always ship him out like they did Gonzalez and Cahill. The foundation of the new rotation arrived in this winter’s trades (Parker and Peacock, along with fellow 2014 candidate A.J. Cole) and in the 2011 draft (Gray). I gave Ross the fifth spot, but it’s just as likely that his future is in the bullpen.

As for the bullpen, I’m not going to try projecting that, except to say that Fautino De Los Santos should be a big part of it. He’s a candidate to take over as the team’s closer this year.

2B Jemile Weeks
CF Grant Green
1B Daric Barton
RF Yoenis Cespedes
DH Seth Smith
3B Scott Sizemore
LF Michael Choice
C Derek Norris
SS Cliff Pennington

Call me crazy, but I’m still a believer in Barton. Of course, this is a make-or-break year for him, and though I think he’ll be a solid regular at first base for some team in 2014, it may not be Oakland. Smith, who is under control through 2014, could also have moved on by then. And the A’s big target at this point should be a prime prospect at third base (though, FWIW, they did give a 16-year-old named Renato Nunez a $2.2 million bonus to sign out of the Dominican Republic in 2010).

It’s the outfield that has gotten awfully interesting as a result of the Cespedes acquisition. Green, Oakland’s first-round pick in 2009, shifted from shortstop to center field last year. Choice was the team’s first-round pick in 2010. If those two fulfill their potential, then there won’t be any room for new acquisition Josh Reddick or former top prospect Michael Taylor. First base/outfield/DH-types Brandon Allen and Chris Carter are also left out in the cold here.

Catcher is another question mark. I love Norris’ bat, but he might end up at first base or DH. If that’s the case, then Max Stassi is the team’s best hope for a catcher of the future.

The A’s finished last year with one of the game’s weaker farm systems. That’s turned around now, though it came at quite a cost. I’m still not sure the above group is a winner, but considering that the 14 players there shouldn’t cost much more than $45 million in 2014, the A’s will have the cash to fill in some gaps. At the very least, the A’s are no longer meandering. The plan to build for 2014-15 might not work out, but it is a plan.

  1. Brad Hill - Feb 13, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    From what I’ve heard, Norris is a pretty sure bet to stay at catcher. That’s just what I’ve read from some prospect guys, though.

  2. raidernation831 - Feb 13, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Wow, I hope this is true. Initially I was frustrated to see all our pitchers traded away. But with San Jose on the horizon, assuming the crying Giants aren’t scared of losing fans to the A’s and don’t prevent us from San Jose, this is getting exciting again!

  3. stevesper88 - Feb 13, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    The rotation seems to be missing Bartolo Colon. He’s a beast!

  4. clarenceoveur - Feb 13, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    yeah, ok, no way they give it half a season and in 2014 and have it not work and then start selling again for some great looking theoretical 2018 roster.

  5. simon94022 - Feb 13, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Lew Wolff said last week that 2016 is the realistic target date for a new ballpark IF a move to SJ is approved. If it’s not approved, the A’s face at least another decade of stagnation.

    Either way, they won’t have the financial resources to compete in 2014-2015.

    • dondada10 - Feb 13, 2012 at 7:58 PM

      That sucks.

  6. yankeesgameday - Feb 13, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    The rangers and angels will still dominate the AL West in 2014 and for five years beyond. The A’s are a third place team for at least the next half decade.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Feb 13, 2012 at 8:45 PM

      Pujols and the Angels won’t be anything special in 5 years, they’re in “win now” mode. Who knows what the Rangers will look like in 5 years? We don’t know what’s going to happen with Hamilton, not to mention Beltre will be 37 and Cruz will be 36.

  7. simon94022 - Feb 13, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    The reality is the Angels and to some extent the Rangers have the resources to eat their mistakes. Pujols may be past his prime in 4 years, but the Halos will be in the market for whoever the best FA bats are at that time.

    That won’t be true of the A’s, even if they get a new ballpark. They’ll be more like the Mariners–capable of putting together playoff teams with smart decisions. Not like the Angels, Red Sox and Yankees, who can do the same thing but are also able to overcome poor decisions.

    • dcfan4life - Feb 14, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      The move to San Jose could come with a new TV deal, one that could greatly increase revenue and payroll. Nobody is the Yankees in payroll, there in a class by themselves. So comparing the A’s to them makes no sense. Compare them to Minnesota, Milwaukee, Arizona, San Diego, Colorado, Atlanta, or Tampa Bay, you know, teams who dont spend much and compete on a consistant basis.

  8. simon94022 - Feb 13, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    Barton-Cespedes-Smith has the makings of the worst middle of the order in the history of the game. Any one of them (well, not Barton) could develop into an impact bat. But the probability is that none of them will.

    It is possible that none of them will even be on a major league roster come 2016.

  9. phillyphever - Feb 14, 2012 at 6:12 AM

    If Beane’s still the GM by then, forget it. He’ll trade everyone away before 2014. I will continue saying this until it happens: Beane needs to be fired for his failure to build a winner with limited funds (if Tampa can do thus, then Oakland should do it as well).

  10. shaggylocks - Feb 14, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    Second sentence of the second paragraph is missing a direct object. I assume you’re talking about Cespedes, but for a second there I thought you were saying that the Oakland A’s might become a Triple A team.

  11. bluesoxbaseball - Feb 14, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Whatever happened to Michael Ynoa?

  12. simon94022 - Feb 14, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    San Jose is the same media market, so there won’t be a new TV deal.

    Unless Selig brokers something to compensate the Giants. But while that scenario could be a win-win for both clubs, it will be a much, much bigger win for the Giants. That’s the team with all the market power in the Bay Area anyway.

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