Oakland is coming off three straight losing seasons and Billy Beane, Bob Geren and Co. think that they have the right combination of good young pitching, potentially great defense, and scrappy, hard-nosed hitters to end the streak in 2010.
If it's going to happen, it's not going to get done with the take-pitch-after-pitch, station-to-station sluggers of "Moneyball" fame. This is an approach—the one that puts a premium on speed and aggressive plate appearances—to A's baseball that is by no means new (the great '70s teams were built that way), it just hasn't been seen in these parts since Billy Beane was a player.
That's not to say Moneyball is a thing of the past. It's just that the definiton of Moneyball is ever changing. One of the reasons that Beane is widely considered to be the best at what he does is that he has such a great grasp of economics and the constantly evolving supply and demand of specific sets of baseball skills.
Now that the big market teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox are using the same statistical analysis that Beane and his associates have been trusting for years which puts such a high price on plate discipline and less on speed, he, like general managers on other small market teams, must continually find new ways to find value in a player.
It's clear that Beane has built the 2010 team much differently offensively than he has in years past, however, the pitching staff features the same type of young talent that A's fans fell in love with a few years ago when Hudson, Zito, and Mulder were around. If these kids can put it all together, and they get some help from the two at the top (Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscerer), neither of whom played in 2009, it could be a special year for the Green and Gold.
2009 Record: 75-87
2010 Record: 82-80 (projection)
Key Additions: Ben Sheets (pitcher), Justin Duchscherer* (pitcher), Joey Devine* (pitcher), Jake Fox (infield), Kevin Kouzmanoff (third base), Adam Rosales (utility)
* with Oakland in 2009 but did not play due to injury
Key Losses: Adam Kennedy (infield), Bobb Crosby (utility), Scott Hairston (outfield), Nomar Garciaparra (infield), Jeff Gray (pitcher)
Projected Batting Order (with projected 2010 stats)
1. Rajai Davis - Right - LF - .300 BA, .350 OBP, 5 HR, 50 RBI, 50 SB
2. Coco Crisp - Switch - CF - .275 BA, .335 OBP, 5 HR, 50 RBI, 20 SB
3. Kurt Suzuki - Rright - C - .275 BA, .325 OBP, 15 HR, 90 RBI, 5 SB
4. Jack Cust - Left - DH - .240 BA, .375 OBP, 25 HR, 75 RBI, 0 SB
5. Kevin Kouzmanoff - Right - 3B - .260 BA, .300 OBP, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 0 SB
6. Ryan Sweeney - Left - RF - .300 BA, .360, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 5 SB
7. Mark Ellis - Right - 2B - .260 BA, .315 OBP, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 10 SB
8. Daric Barton - Left - 1B - .270 BA, .370 OBP, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 0 SB
9. Cliff Pennington - Switch - SS - .280 BA, .350, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 15 SB
Eric Chavez - Left - UT
Adam Rosales - Right - UT
Landon Powell - Switch - C
Travis Buck - Left - OF
Jake Fox - Right - INF
Projected Starting Rotation (with projected 2010 stats)
1. Ben Sheets - Right - 12-9, 3.50 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 175 IP
2. Justin Duchscherer - Right - 11-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.20, 150 IP
3. Dallas Braden - Left - 12-9, 3.75 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 175 IP
4. Brett Anderson - Left - 15-11, 4.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 200 IP
5. Trevor Cahill - Right - 10-10, 4.25 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 200 IP
Projected Bullpen (with projected 2010 stats)
Andrew Bailey - Right - 2.00 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 80 IP, 35 SV
Craig Breslow - Left - 3.30 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 60 IP
Michael Wuertz - Right - 3.00 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 75 IP
Brad Ziegler - Right - 3.00 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 75 IP
Joey Devine - Right - 2.50 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 40 IP
Jerry Blevins - Left - 4.15 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 40 IP