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A's Keep It Young in Oakland, Decline Alan Embree's Club Option

Cassie KoliasCorrespondent INovember 1, 2008

Now presenting, the youngest ball club in Major League Baseball: The Oakland Athletics.

On Friday, the A's declined a $3 million option on 38-year-old reliever Alan Embree, one of the oldest players left on the roster. When the A's said they were rebuilding, they certainly weren't kidding. Being the youngest club could help the A's in future seasons, but it also hurt their postseason chances this past season.

Over past seasons, the A's were slowly filtering out the oldies and bringing in the rookies. Management relies so much on building a (winning) farm system that they aren't even considering wins.

No one should even have postseason on the brain for the '09 season.

It isn't going to happen.

With a whole new crop of 20-somethings leading the team next season, it is hard to deny that the best players on the field will also be the youngest.

Take 23-year-old outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who was the first player named to a starting spot for the '09 season.

Or 23-year-old first baseman Daric Barton, who, despite a disappointing slump, showed an incredible comeback at the end of the season, will be a stud next season and live up to all of his rookie hype.

The '09 A's will rely heavily on their young players, being anchored by only a few seasoned veterans, including second baseman Mark Ellis, 31, and Eric Chavez, 31, at the hot corner. But there are huge downfalls to having so much young blood on the field.

The injuries. The mistakes. The inexperience.

All those things proved to be a huge problem for the A's. They used the disabled list a franchise record of 25 times in 2008. They also used an Oakland-record of 21 rookies, with more on the way in '09, for sure.

The team is sure to get even younger, too. Also on Friday, DH Frank Thomas, 40, right-handed pitcher Keith Foulke, 36, and outfielder Emil Brown, 34, filed for free agency and are expect not to return.

Either way, the slogan for the Oakland A's shouldn't be 100 percent baseball. It should be Oakland: where the babies play.

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