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2010 Oakland Athletics Preview

Brett Anderson, LHP
Trevor Cahill, RHP
Dallas Braden, RHP
Justin Duchscherer, RHP
Vin Mazzaro, RHP

Closers and Setup
Andrew Bailey, RHP
Brad Ziegler, RHP

Starting Lineup
Coco Crisp, CF
Rajai Davis, LF
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B
Jack Cust, DH
Kurt Suzuki, C
Daric Barton, 1B
Mark Ellis, 2B
Cliff Pennington, SS

Player in Decline

Rajai Davis is a burner and should provide plenty of steals when he’s on base. That might not be as often next year, however. The former Pirates prospect doesn’t have much in the way of secondary skills, and he benefitted from a near .370 BABIP last season. Expect a batting average closer to the .270-.280 range, as opposed to Davis’ .305 mark in 2009.

Player on the Rise

Cahiill punched out 10 batters per nine innings in the minor leagues, displaying a plus curve and slider. If he can rediscover those pitches, his K-rate should improve considerably.

Top 5 Fantasy Players
Brett Anderson: Elite
Andrew Bailey: Elite
Kurt Suzuki: Average
Trevor Cahill: Deep League
Gio Gonzalez: Deep League

Top 10 Prospects
1. Chris Carter, 1B
2. Michael Taylor, OF
3. Jemile Weeks, 2B
4. Adrian Cardenas, 2B
5. Tyson Ross, RHP
6. Grant Green, SS
7. Pedro Figueroa, RHP
8. Max Stassi, C
9. Fautino De Los Santos, RHP
10. Sean Doolittle, 1B

Overall team outlook: The A’s broke in several high-upside starters and a shut-down closer in 2009, and a flood of position prospects are on the way. In the meantime, Oakland will give a few second-tier youngsters a chance to prove they’re deserving of inclusion in the club’s long-term plans.

The Starting Rotation: A pitcher can do three things to help himself: get strikeouts, limit walks, and keep the ball on the ground. Brett Anderson excels in all three aspects. Health permitting, Anderson has the skills to be a top-20 starter in 2010. Trevor Cahill didn’t have near the same smooth transition to the Majors as Anderson, as he struggled to fool batters, pitched away from lefties, and scrapped his breaking stuff. Keep in mind that he’s barely old enough to buy a beer and came into 2009 with little experience above A-ball. There’s a lot of potential here, but be wary for now. Dallas Braden’s season ended in August after a left foot rash led to nerve irritation. To avoid irritation yourself, take note that Braden had an ERA in the high 3.00s but had the peripherals of a pitcher with an ERA in the high 4.00s.

Justin Duchscherer missed the 2009 season while recovering from elbow surgery and a bout with depression. He won’t repeat his 2008 work, but The Duke’s useful if he still has plus control and a deceptive cutter/curve combo. Gio Gonzalez oscillates between enthralling and exasperating, possessing a big curve that leads to Ks and walks by the bushel. His FIP was much lower than his ERA last year. Vin Mazzaro has low-90s gas and a power slider, but doesn’t whiff as many batters as you would expect. As a sinker/slider righty with average command, Clay Mortensen has a limited ceiling.

The Bullpen: A former starter shifted to relief, Andrew Bailey used his mid-90s four-seamer, high-80s cutter, and high-70s curve to demolish batters during his rookie year. He did benefit from a very low BABIP and home-run rate, but Bailey has a rare combination of power and precision. The 6’3’’, 235-pounder belongs in the elite class of closers. A submarine pitcher whose fastball couldn’t tear through tissue paper, Brad Ziegler burns worms like few others but will never post huge K rates. Mike Wuertz, on the other hand, whiffed 11.7 batters per nine frames last year with his biting slider. His stuff is closer-worthy.

The Starting Lineup: Daric Barton finally showed signs of life last season. His plate discipline is immaculate, but Barton has limited pop at a position where power is a prerequisite. Mark Ellis was sidelined with a calf injury, after suffering a shoulder malady in 2008. Ellis has some doubles power, but he’s just an option in AL-only leagues. Cliff Pennington has a good eye and some speed, but he’ll have to prove he can avoid getting the bat knocked out of his hands. Kevin Kouzmanoff gets out of Petco, but the Coliseum constricts righty thump, too. Don’t expect a huge breakout in 2010.

Rajai Davis is highly unlikely to replicate his offensive performance from 2009, but he does have serious wheels and is a good bet to nab 30-40 bags if he has a full-time job. Coco Crisp’s shoulder went snap, crackle, pop last year, requiring season-ending surgery. He’s nothing special offensively, though he could offer 20 steals. It’s probably time to stop looking at Ryan Sweeney’s 6’4’’ frame and hoping he’ll turn into a power hitter. Jack Cust didn’t hit with the same authority last year, as his ISO fell nearly 70 points. Cust is still outfield-eligible, though A’s fans wish he wasn’t. Kurt Suzuki traded some patience for power last season, as he upped his ISO by 60 points but saw his walk rate dip three percentage points.

The Bench: Jake Fox can mash, but he’s ultra-aggressive and doesn’t have a defensive home. With Cust return, Fox’s playing time depends on how much the A’s can stomach his glove. Back, shoulder, and elbow injuries have sabotaged Eric Chavez’s once-promising career. Eric Patterson stole 43 bases at Triple-A last year. He’s buried on the depth chart, though. Travis Buck needs a healthy season to avoid falling into obscurity. Switch-hitter Landon Powell has better secondary skills than your average back-up catcher.