What The Oakland Athletics Should Do


For a little while, it seemed the Oakland Athletics could emerge as the victors from 2010’s AL West survivor pool. At the close of May, the A’s were 28-24 and led the division. They have gone 6-16 since and now sit over ten games back and without the sort of talent advantage that would allow them to make up such a deficit.

Buy or Sell?

The answer then is to sell, though Billy Beane has long been anything but predictable. The next question is what to sell, and, like the Mariners, the A’s lack a plethora of sought-after assets. After the seemingly obvious Ben Sheets, nearly all the players that would be interesting to other teams for performance reasons are cherished by Oakland for their youth and contractual status in addition to their solid stats, thus they seem unlikely to go anywhere.

Daric Barton might find himself theoretically expendable thanks to Chris Carter, but Oakland shouldn’t ditch Barton for Carter unless Beane finds himself a steal. Barton is still under a mammoth amount of team control and there is also the DH spot if Oakland wants to get Carter out of Sacramento.

On the Farm

Where Oakland dips into its farm system might depend more on which players are kept around from the 2010 team than on any elite prospects pushing their way onto the scene. Tyson Ross was a name to keep an eye on, but he’s been with the big team all season. 2011 might see him return to the rotation after Ben Sheets’ turn is up. Shawn Haviland might be on the scene sooner than previously expected, but his numbers in the upper minors are still too small to judge.

Chris Carter should be called up sometime soon, but he still needs to provide more value from his bat given his defensive shortcomings. Josh Donaldson could make a similarly valuable, but perhaps underwhelming addition behind the plate for Kurt Suzuki.


Sticking to a budget of around $60 million each year, the Athletics have an unholy amount of payroll space freed up in the future. Eric Chavez will have his option declined and be paid $3 million for the privilege, which is currently the highest expense on the books for Oakland in 2011. Michael Wuertz is signed for $2.8 million, Brett Anderson for $1.25 million, and there are club options on Mark Ellis and Coco Crisp which both carry half million buyouts but that is it as far as guaranteed expenditures go.

Many of their players are arbitration eligible and therefore will see some raises but it’s difficult to see that adding more than $20 million to the books which still leaves Oakland with something in the vicinity of $25 million to spend in this coming offseason assuming the same budget room. The A’s were never built to run away in 2010, but rather to take a stab at a winnable division but bide their time for the future. They are going to miss the brass ring, but the future still looks intact.

Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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13 years ago

Oakland is a good example of a team that should “ride it out” and “play the kids”.

A lot of the teams that should be “sellers” (as usd in this series) do not have much to sell that they’d be willing to sell. Many of the teams would just be in “trade a guy, eat a big chunk of his money” just to free up some budget space in the future … Which seems (in many cases as much con as it is pro). But the A’s are not one of those teams.

The A’s were hoping that Sheets would be awesome and they’d either compete or have a valuable trading chip. So, now they just have to play out the season and hope for some good luck for them and bad luck for some others.

Not sure of the list of players coming up in FA that the A’s can afford, but they’re likely looking at a similar situation in 2011. The question will be whether the teams in their division get better or start rebuilding.

Always an interesting team to follow. They’re a good example of how an injured young star with a big contract decimates a small budget team, wheras a big budget team just replaces him with a player of equal production. Such is the life in MLB.

I’m old enough to remember when OAK had 3 straight ROYs. 20 years ago. Wow.

13 years ago
Reply to  CircleChange11

“I’m old enough to remember when OAK had 3 straight ROYs. 20 years ago. Wow.”

Ah yes, the days of Canseco, McGwire, and Weiss have gone by the wayside.

I have to agree with M.C. here – they took a couple of gambles (Sheets, Crisp) that haven’t paid off. If they can get any trade value for someone like Wuertz or Ziegler, they should deal them.

Barton doesn’t really have much trade value, and provides three serviceable qualities (glove, plate discipline, and affordability). Maybe a team like the Pirates takes a stab at him, but in the end, he’s the new version of Scott Hatteberg, which isn’t all that bad…unless you have 6-8 of them amongst your 13 offensive players.

The issue is trying to import/develop some impact players, preferably those with power. Carter & Taylor are a good start – just keep ’em coming!