MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Trevor Cahill and the Oakland Athletics on Paper

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIMarch 30, 2011

MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Trevor Cahill and the Oakland Athletics on Paper

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The A's seem to be everyone's "sleeper" team this upcoming season, and rightfully so.

    The foursome of Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden is the most underrated in baseball.  To go along with a strong bullpen, the pitching aspect is set.

    The big story is the offense.  Will they be able to score enough runs to win games?


    Throughout this article, you will see a number between 7-10 beside each player.  These numbers break the players up into essential categories; here's a rough layout. 

    10: Best player/pitcher in baseball

    9-plus: Superstar, MVP/Cy Young Candidates

    8-plus: Consistent All-Star

    7.5: Periodical All-Star

    7.25: Solid Starter

    7: Average Player


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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

     C Kurt Suzuki: 7.5

    1B Daric Barton: 7.25 

    2B Mark Ellis: 7

    SS Cliff Pennington: 7

    3B Kevin Kouzmanoff: 7.25

    Kurt Suzuki (27) 495 AB .242 BA 55 R 13 HR 71 RBI 3 SB 

    • Suzuki has become a durable catcher for the A's, although he saw a 30 point dip in his batting average.  He has a quick stroke and makes consistent contact.  He sprays the ball around, and pulls pitches on the inner-half for power.  Behind the plate, Suzuki shows good agility and shifts well from side to side.  As for his arm, he threw out just 10 of 76 base stealers (13.2 percent).  It was the worst percentage in Oakland history.


    Daric Barton (25) 556 AB .273 BA 79 R 10 HR 57 RBI 7 SB

    • Barton led the American League with 110 walks, so obviously he's very disciplined at the plate.  He's a line-drive gap to gap hitter.  He doesn't have good range in the field.


    Mark Ellis (33) 436 AB .291 BA 45 R 5 HR 49 RBI 7 SB

    • Ellis has a short, compact swing and he's seen an increase in his average over the past couple of seasons.  He has limited range in the field, but he has solid anticipation and reads the ball off the bat well.


    Cliff Pennington (26) 508 AB .250 BA 64 R 6 HR 46 RBI 29 SB

    • Pennington had the second highest WAR of any shortstop in baseball last year.  He doesn't generate good bat speed, but he's solid in the field.  He throws well on the move.


    Kevin Kouzmanoff (29) 551 AB .247 BA 59 R 16 HR 71 RBI 2 SB

    • Kouzmanoff has a strong bat and hits from a deep crouch.  He likes the ball up and has solid pull power.  He's a sure-handed defender with an accurate arm.


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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    LF David DeJesus: 7 

    CF Coco Crisp: 7

    RF Josh Willingham: 7.25

    DH Hideki Matsui: 7.25


    David DeJesus (31) 352 AB .318 BA 46 R 5 HR 37 RBI 3 SB

    • DeJesus has a short stroke and stays inside the ball.  He likes the ball middle-in and up.  He's solid in the field and can play any of the three outfield positions.


    Coco Crisp (31) 290 AB .279 BA 51 R 8 HR 38 RBI 32 SB

    • Crisp is a switch-hitter who still possesses solid speed.  He has a quicker swing from the right side.  He plays shallow, but uses his speed to chase down fly balls.  He has a weak arm due to shoulder surgery.


    Josh Willingham (32) 370 AB .268 BA 54 R 16 HR 56 RBI 8 SB

    • Willingham has a compact stroke and loves to hit the fastball.  He likes to pull the ball when he can.  He's weak in the field and lacks range.  He does have a solid arm.


    Hideki Matsui (36) 482 AB .274 BA 55 R 21 HR 84 RBI 0 SB

    • Matsui has shortened his swing over recent years due to diminishing bat speed.  He likes the ball on the inner-half and up.

Starting Pitching

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Trevor Cahill: 8

    Dallas Braden: 7.5

    Brett Anderson; 7.5

    Gio Gonzalez: 7.25

    Brandon McCarthy: 7

    Trevor Cahill (23) 197 IP 18-8 2.97 ERA 1.11 WHIP 118 K

    • Cahill is a Brandon Webb clone.  He's a ground-ball pitcher.  He has a low-90's sinker which has very good movement.  He commands it to both sides of the plate.  He also mixes in a slider, curveball and a nice circle changeup. 


    Dallas Braden (27) 193 IP 11-14 3.50 ERA 1.16 WHIP 113 K

    • Braden has a compact and deceptive short-arm delivery.  He gets good tailing movement on his high-80's fastball.  He changes speeds with his curveball.  He has a very good circle changeup with has good sinking action.  He knows how to pitch.


    Brett Anderson (23) 112 IP 7-6 2.80 ERA 1.19 WHIP 75 K

    • Anderson has a history of elbow issues.  He has a low-90's fastball which he keeps down in the strike zone.  His slider is his out-pitch.  He gets good depth and sharp bite.  He throws it a lot, about 30% of the time.  He'll also mix in a curveball and changeup.  He has solid command of all his pitches.


    Gio Gonzalez (25) 201 IP 15-9 3.23 ERA 1.31 WHIP 171 K

    • Gonzalez has one of the more underrated curveballs in the game.  He likes to change the shape and speed with it.  He has a low-90's fastball.  He tends to struggle with command, but has good overall stuff.


    Brandon McCarthy (27) DNP

    • Rich Harden was originally slated to be the fifth starter, but now there's talk of him possibly being moved to the bullpen.  He threw his first bullpen session in six weeks as he nursed a strained lat muscle.  McCarthy missed last season with shoulder issues.


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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    RP Rich Harden: 7.25

    RP Michael Wuertz: 7.25

    RP Grant Balfour: 7.25

    SU Brian Fuentes: 7.5

    CP Andrew Bailey: 8 


    Grant Balfour, Michael Wuertz, Rich Harden

    • The A's have one of the most talented and deepest bullpens in all of baseball.  Wuertz converted on all six of his save opportunities when Andrew Bailey went down with an elbow injury in September.   


    Brian Fuentes (35) 48 IP 4-1 24 SV 2.81 ERA 1.06 WHIP 47 K

    • Fuentes will serve as the closer until Bailey returns.  He has an unorthodox, sidearm delivery which makes it difficult for the hitter to pick up the ball.  He has an upper-80's to low-90's fastball, slider and changeup.  His changeup is his out-pitch, but he likes to throw his sliders against lefties.  He has good control.


     Andrew Bailey (26)  49 IP 1-3 25 SV 1.47 ERA .96 WHIP 42 K

    • Bailey will start the season on the DL as he recovers from a strained right forearm.  He's big and strong.  He rides his mid-90's four-seamer up in the zone.  His cutter has sharp bite, and ties up lefties. 

Sizing Up the Athletics on Paper

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. Coco Crisp: 7

    2. David DeJesus: 7

    3. Josh Willingham: 7.25

    4. Hideki Matsui: 7.25

    5. Kevin Kouzmanoff: 7.25

    6. Daric Barton: 7.25

    7. Kurt Suzuki: 7.5

    8. Mark Ellis: 7

    9. Cliff Pennington: 7


    Projected Starting Rotation 

    Trevor Cahill: 8

    Dallas Braden: 7.5

    Brett Anderson; 7.5

    Gio Gonzalez: 7.25

    Brandon McCarthy: 7


    RP Rich Harden: 7.25

    RP Michael Wuertz: 7.25

    RP Grant Balfour: 7.25

    SU Brian Fuentes: 7.5

    CP Andrew Bailey: 8 


    Hideki Matsui, Adam Rosales, Landon Powell, Ryan Sweeney: 7.25



    Bob Geren: 7


    INF: 36

    OF: 21.25

    SP: 37.25

    RP: 7.5

    CP: 15.5

    MISC: 14.25

    Hitting: 57.25

    Pitching: 60.25

    TOTAL: 131.75


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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    About a month ago, I was one of those people that thought the A's were ready to make the jump to possibly win the AL West title.

    But after further investigation, I'm not sure if they're going to be able to score enough runs to win games.

    I know this worked well for the San Francisco Giants a year ago, but let's face it, as underrated as the Oakland pitching staff is, they're not the Giants.

    To me, they're still a bat or two away.  Maybe this is something they address at the trade deadline.

    Prediction: 82-80 3rd AL West

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