What to Make of the 2013 A’s

I put on an A’s shirt this morning, and as I did so I thought about how pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training in a week and that I haven’t written a single blog post this offseason.

It’s not that I haven’t been paying attention to the moves that have been made, but… I just don’t know what to make of them. The A’s have made a few intersting trades this offseason, the most recent of which was yesterday, when they picked up Jed Lowrie and a reliever from the Astros, and sent Chris Carter, Brad Peacock, and Max Stassi to Houston.

061812-jed-lowrie-1jpg-d94f247896616cdfChris Carter? Chris Carter. I thought he really came into his own last season and, for the first time, really looked like a major leaguer. His at-bats were patient, he was swinging at the right pitches and hitting homers and doubles. But, that was until he got benched for pretty much the last month of the season and the playoffs. So maybe there’s more to it we know. But can you just imagine him launching bombs into the left field bleachers in that bandbox in Houston? He’s going to – a lot.

And then there’s Peacock – still a guy with potential #3 starter upside, despite a poor showing in AAA last season. Stassi was a highly-touted prospect out of the draft.

A’s fans have learned over the years to trust Billy Beane for the most part. Sure, he has his clunkers (Matt Holiday, Tim Hudson), but for the most part, his moves work out. And the ones that don’t are usually not moves that come back to bite the A’s.

So which one will the Lowrie trade be? Well it’ll depend on a number of things, one of which is if the oft-injured Lowrie can stay on the field for a full season. He does have some pop in his bat (though not as much as Carter), and he also brings some versatility in that he can play all over the infield. That may actually may be the reason the A’s made a trade like this, as Jeff Sullivan from Fangraphs suggests.

If you look at the 2013 infield, nothing is a sure thing. At first base you have Brandon Moss, journeyman turned slugger. What if he reverts back to journeyman again? At second base, you have Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore. What if Jemile still can’t hit his way out of a paper bag, and Sizemore shows rust from not having played in a big league game since the fall of 2011? At shortstop, you have Japanese free agent Hiroyuki Nakajima. What if he has a hard time adjusting? And then at third, there’s Josh Donaldson, converted catcher. What if he has a sophomore slump?

Now if all these ifs end up affecting the A’s in 2013, they don’t have four Jed Lowries. But the one they have can be used to plug any one of these holes if needed. As much as I love Chris Carter’s bat, he wasn’t going to provide insurance at shorstop, that’s for sure.

The A’s have addressed depth in the outfield and at catcher this offseason as well. Chris Young replaces Jonny Gomes, and as much as Gomes was a fan favorite, he wasn’t ever going to be spelling Coco Crisp in center field, whereas Young can. And the A’s picked up more of an everyday catcher in John Jaso, replacing George Kottaras and relegating Derek Norris to work against lefty pitchers only. Considering Jaso has a career .789 OPS against righty pitching in his career, he and Norris as a platoon should be able to give the A’s more offense at catcher than they’ve had in quite some time.

So I think depth looks good on paper, but what will really become of it once they start the 162-game grind? We shall wait and see, and hopefully not notice too much going on from a former Oakland A down in Houston.


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