It's a little too soon to think about the offseason, but with the injuries mounting for the Oakland A's it's only a matter of time before the rosters expand. Then the A's will be looking at what the roster maybe like for the 2011 season.
With that being said what players are likely to stay? What players are likely going to be gone? I'll start with the infielders and finish with the relief pitchers.
The catcher position is the most stable position for the A's with Kurt Suzuki signing a four year contract extension. Landon Powell is a solid backup behind Suzuki, he was behind the plate when Dallas Braden's threw his perfect game.
At first base this is where it gets interesting especially if the A's aren't in striking distance of the Texas Rangers. It's almost certain that Chris Carter will be called up when the rosters expand to 40.
Carter is the future of the A's and is the power bat the A's have been desperately seeking since Frank Thomas left as a free agent after the 2006 season. The problem is that the A's have Daric Barton at first base.
Which, could mean that Barton's expendable or that he's going to be asked to switch positions either to third base which he has some experience playing when he was in the minors or to the outfield.
Second base Ellis should remain the starter, he doesn't strike out much, can hit for power and is outstanding on defense.
For shortstop the job still remains Cliff Pennington as the A's really don't have much depth at the position.
Kevin Kouzmanoff's at third base is a great defensive third basemen, but isn't truly a middle of the order hitter which the A's need. The A's could certainly send him in a package deal in the offseason.
A player that will likely remain on the A's roster for his versatility and his hustle is Adam Rosales who played in the outfield and all four infield spots.
In left field for the A's Rajai Davis will continue to split time at all three positions, his speed is a definite boost to the club and he's been rather durable since arriving in Oakland.
Coco Crisp in center signed only a one year contract with a club option, but the A's will more than likely buy out his contract and hope to sign him for less or if he decides to go somewhere else Davis could return to his more natural position of center field.
In right field is Ryan Sweeney who should be recovered from his knee injury could still be out of a job. With Michael Taylor starting to hit in Sacramento, Sweeney could be traded in the offseason depending on his health.
Backup outfielders include Matt Watson, Matt Carson, Gabe Gross, and Jack Cust. Out of the four only Cust should remain with the A's especially if Carter and Taylor can show they can hit at the Major League level once they are called up.
The starting rotation will be interesting thanks to a plethora of young talent for the A's.
Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill will be at the top of the rotation, Dallas Braden will be third, Gio Gonzalez fourth, and Vin Mazzaro fifth. Yet, I wouldn't be surprised if there were some trades involving the A's young pitching.
In my opinion Gonzalez and Mazarro are expendable and either one could be used in a trade involving Barton, Sweeney, or Kouzmanoff. For the A's in Sacramento there's Clayton Mortenson and Tyson Ross, but more importantly coming back from injury is Josh Outman.
What was supposed to be the strength of the A's in 2010 was the bullpen, but instead it was a weakness. Michael Wuertz struggled and I could see him being traded during the offseason. Jerry Blevins had been struggling but has been better as of late, Brad Ziegler continues to struggle and could be moved as well.
Relievers like Cedric Bowers, Henry Rodriguez, and Ross Wolf need to start being used a little bit more as the season progresses to build up their confidence and show what they can do at the big league level.
Bowers is 32 years of age but since he's left handed he has a fit in the Majors, Rodriguez is the youngest he has a dominating fastball he needs to work on locating his offspeed pitches, and Wolf is 27 with not much experience yet.
Andrew Bailey and Craig Breslow have been the only consistent relievers the A's have had all year.
Rodriguez should be a setup man in 2011 if he can find his command, Bowers will more than likely begin the year in Sacramento, same can be said for Wolf. Coming back from injury Joey Devine who will find a spot in the bullpen.
Looking at the players currently on the disabled list. Eric Chavez should retire, Travis Buck will either be released or find his way back to the minors, Conor Jackson should be with the A's in 2011 as a fourth outfielder and backup first basemen, John Meloan will begin in Sacramento, Justin Duchscherer will be released, and Ben Sheets will not be resigned either.
So, the players likely staying for the A's are Suzuki, Powell, Ellis, Pennington, Rosales, Davis, Jackson, Bowers, Rodriguez, Wolf, Bailey, and Breslow.
Likely out include: Barton, Crisp, Gonzalez, Mazarro, Wuertz, Ziegler, Buck, Chavez, Duchscherer, and Sheets.
Coming back from injuries: Devine, Outman, and Sweney.
What will be interesting is if the A's do make any trades during the offseason and what kind of players will they get in return.
Here's what a possible lineup for the A's could look like for next year:
1. Davis, CF
2. Jackson, LF
3. Taylor, RF
4. Carter, 1B
5. Suzuki, C
6. Cust, DH
7. Barton, 3B
8. Ellis, 2B
9. Pennington, SS
3. Corey Wimberly
The Starting rotation would look like this:
3. Jon Hunton
This lineup doesn't take into account free agency or who the A's could possibly get in a trade, so the offseason for the A's could be big because they have plenty of young pitching talent and a few players that could attract some interest.
But, the biggest fix of all for A's fans should be the firing of Bob Geren and hitting coach Jim Skaalen.
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