With Spring Training right around the corner the Oakland Athletics should be eager to see how much their offseason moves will help their team grow and develop into perennial playoff contenders.
The A's added veteran CF Coco Crisp, a career .277/.331/.407 hitter, to the outfield mix. But with top-prospect, OF Michael Taylor (acquired via trade with Toronto) waiting in the minors, fans were rather upset to see the A's dish out $4.5 million to Crisp.
But with Crisp now in center, Rajai Davis (.305/.360/.423 in '09) will shift over to left-field with Ryan Sweeney playing in right. The addition of Crisp highlights Oakland's efforts to improve on defense.
And at the very least, the A's should be good defensively in the outfield.
With 3B Eric Chavez recovering from yet another surgery, Billy Beane went out and addressed the team's hot-corner situation.
The A's added 3B, Kevin Kouzmanoff in a trade with San Diego. Kouzmanoff, who is coming off a season where he hit .255/.302/.420 with 18 HR and 88 RBI, will be be manning the hot-corner for Oakland come Opening Day.
Meaning Eric Chavez will no longer be Oakland's starting 3B. Instead, Chavez will be an expensive ($11.5 million) utility player. Chavez will play third, shortstop, first, and possibly the outfield.
The A's have Daric Barton at first, but they've also got a top-prospect in Chris Carter waiting in the wings. The A's haven't lost hope in Barton, who hit .269/.372/.413 in '09, but if he doesn't perform, chances are he won't keep the starting job for long.
So, for the time being, the A's will probably open with an infield consisting of Barton (1B), Mark Ellis (2B), Cliff Pennington (SS), and Kouzmanoff (3B). Not bad, but not great. However, the fact that the A's have solidified their 3B situation with the likes of Kouzmanoff and Adam Rosales highlights their attempt to add depth to the infield.
A's GM Billy Beane appears to value defense, but he also seems to value true veteran leadership just as much.
The A's recently resigned SP Justin Duchscherer and added All-Star SP, Ben Sheets to the rotation. Although both are coming off injury-plagued seasons, the potential value of the two is extremely high.
Both Duchscherer and Sheets can help youngsters like Brett Anderson (11-11, 4.05 ERA) grow and develop into premier starters. And if Oakland's young guns can grow and mature into top big league starters, 2010 should be an enjoyable season.
Also, if Sheets recovers and has a solid start to the season, Oakland could use him as trade bait and collect a few young studs who could only add to the A's bright future.
The A's added some depth this offseason, and for the most part it should all pay off. The A's are a young team with a ton of potential and talent, but that talent needs to mature and develop first. Veterans like Chavez, Crisp and Sheets will help lead the youngsters in their process to develop into perennial playoff contenders.