Sunday, February 8, 2004

Hope Springs Eternal

Here’s Sir Rantalot’s guess at what the 2004 A’s will look like coming out of Spring Training this year.

Hudson R 16-7, 2.70, .223
Mulder L 15-9, 3.13, .259
Zito L 14-12, 3.30, .219
Redman L 14-9, 3.59, .239
Harden R 5-4, 4.46, .259

Long Men:
Harville R 1-0, 5.82, .294, 21.2IP, 1sv-0bs
Hammond L 3-2, 2.86, .270, 63.0IP, 1sv-3bs

Set Up:
Bradford R 7-4, 3.04, .236, 77.0IP, 2sv-3bs
Mecir R 2-3, 5.59, .280, 37.0IP, 1sv-1bs
Rincon L 8-4, 3.25, .230, 55.1IP, 0sv-3bs

Rhodes L 3-3, 4.17, .256, 54.0IP, 3sv-3bs

Kotsay L (CF) .266/7/38/.343/.726(482AB)
Ellis R (2B) .248/9/52/.313/.684(553AB)
Chavez L (3B) .282/29/101/.350/.864(588AB)
Dye R (RF) .172/4/20/.261/.514(221AB)
Durazo L (DH) .259/21/77/.374/.804(537AB)
Kielty S (LF) .244/13/57/.358/.758(427AB)
Miller R (C) .233/9/36/.310/.680(352AB)
Hatteberg L (1B) .253/12/61/.342/.725(541AB)
Crosby R (SS) .000/0/0/.143/.143(12AB)

Karros R .286/12/40/.340/.786/(336)
German R .205/0/1/.295/.500(39AB)
Byrnes R .263/12/51/.333/.792(414AB)
McMillon L .268/6/26/.354/.812(153AB)
Melhuse S .299/5/14/.372/.957(77AB)


-The rotation looks great. Hopefully the pitching plus improved outfield defense will negate the offensive additions of the Angels, M’s and Rangers. Despite the high ERA it’s heartening to see that Harden had the same BAA as Mulder, and that Zito, despite the odd W-L record had a lower BAA than anyone else on the staff.

-There are very few saves coming out of the bullpen. Of course Izzy had no experience as a closer his first year either. Still…

Line Up
-Kotsay needs to do better than last year, and better than his career averages of .281/12/63/.338/.756(582AB). Still, he’s better than T-Long on both offense and defense.

-Dye clearly needs to bounce back. His numbers have dropped every year he’s been in Oakland. If Dye can stay healthy and get back to the numbers he had in 2000-2001 the A’s will be very dangerous. Dye could be the X factor for the A’s this year.

-Miller is a question mark for me. Since the playoffs I’ve become a big Adam Melhuse fan. Despite his choke in game 5 he showed ability to hit in the clutch. Who knows what he’d do over a full year, but his numbers .299/5/14/.372/.957(77AB) look good. Macha says that players write the lineup and I’m hoping Melhuse takes the job from Miller who is a big drop from Hernandez: .273/21/78/.331/.789(483AB)…

-…Which brings us to comparing the difference between Long/Hernandez and Kotsay/Miller:

L/H: .259/35/139/.312/.734(969AB)
K/M: .250/16/74/.327/.703(834AB)

Even with the difference in ABs Long/Hernandez come out with better production. The one place where this year’s duo beats last year’s is in OBP, which is the one stat the Moneyball A’s value over all others. The added defense that Kotsay brings better make up for the run differential between him and Long at the plate.

-Crosby did better at AAA: .308/22/90. He should be OK this year but his true impact will likely be felt in the years to come. It took Tejada three years before he really blossomed. There’s a ton more pressure on Crosby than there was on Tejada back in ’97. Hopefully he can handle it better than Carlos Pena did.

-Karros will likely split time with Hatteberg and Durazo at 1B and DH

-I put German in here because he’s been a prospect for so long that I really want him to get in there. He could get pushed out by the gritty and popular Frank Menechino. However, Frankie had a down year last year on offense and defense. I’d like to see the kid get shot.

-Byrnes will get some good PT and will likely be a late inning defensive replacement. He brings great energy to the team and a badly needed infusion of speed. If he could just remember to touch home plate he’d be invaluable.

En Total
The squad looks pretty good. This lineup reminds me of the one that went into 2000, one real super star some unassuming sluggers and some young guys with something to prove. The big difference between the 2000 team and this year’s squad is pitching, this year’s team has it. If Rhodes can close games this may be the best staff the A’s have had during their recent playoff run. Of course the rest of the division has gotten better too, and the East is a Beast now more than ever. In fact, it seems like the whole AL has gotten better. In February hope springs eternal and I can see the A’s playing in October once again.

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