A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE A'S
I thought they signed one guy too many, that guy being Hideki Matsui. His body looks dead; there was not much twitch there this spring. If the over-under on home runs is 12, I'm taking the under. I thought they should have given Chris Carter, who has real power, an opportunity to DH.... Out of their new hitters, I think Josh Willingham is the key guy. He has a short swing with leverage and a good idea of the strike zone. If he's healthy, he can hit 25 to 30 home runs. One thing to watch out for, though: It can be discouraging when you square one up at night in Oakland and it dies at the warning track.... They plan to hit David DeJesus in the three hole, but I think he's more of a table setter. If he can avoid getting caught up in the fact that he's hitting third, he'll be fine because he hits the ball in the gap, and the Coliseum is a great place for that.... Coco Crisp can be one of the best leadoff guys in the league. I don't think he can throw, because he had surgery on both shoulders, but he can get 50 steals easily. If they fall out of contention, he will be the first guy they move.... Daric Barton isn't a sexy first baseman: He has very short arms and won't hit for power. But he's the ideal number 2 hitter—takes a lot of pitches—and his defense is second to none.... Cliff Pennington has a great arm at short, and he goes to his left as well as anyone else in the league, but his feet get in tangles when he goes right.... Trevor Cahill has learned how to pitch—not 94, but 91 with sink. He, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez form a fantastic top of the rotation.
April 3, 2011
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER BOB GEREN
5TH SEASON WITH ATHLETICS
A's pitchers—Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez—who made at least 19 starts and had an ERA of 3.50 or under in 2010. The last AL team with such an effective foursome was the 1993 White Sox.
The A's signed Hideki Matsui and traded for Josh Willingham and David DeJesus in the hopes of bolstering production from the outfield and at DH. The moves could push Ryan Sweeney into a fourth-outfielder role, which would be a mistake. Since becoming a regular in 2008, Sweeney has been one of the 20 best defensive players in baseball, saving 20 runs with his glove. He's an adequate hitter, batting .286/.341/.386 in his career, a line that is acceptable given his great defense. Matsui has played just 317 innings in the outfield over the past three seasons, while Willingham's below-average glove costs his team a few runs—the gap between him and Sweeney is about 2½ wins per year. It's not clear that playing Willingham (.265/.367/.475 in his career) over Sweeney will produce enough runs offensively to make up for the loss defensively, especially given the extensive foul ground at Oakland--Alameda County Coliseum. A DH platoon of Matsui and Willingham, with Sweeney and DeJesus flanking centerfielder Coco Crisp in the outfield, is the team's best alignment when everyone is healthy.