30 Teams in 30 Days - Athletics

We’ll go through the AL West. Last year myworld predicted the order of finish, except switching Houston and Seattle. We had Houston finishing in second place but Seattle leap frogged them towards the end of the season. The 30 teams in 30 days may not be consecutive, but we’ll try to finish this before April.

Oakland Athletics

Overview - They hate their stadium and with the new collective bargaining agreement they will not be subsidized as much by the other teams to pay salaries for their roster. This year they will have to do things on their own. With Billy Bean nothing is ever settled on this roster. Last year the collapse of their pitching staff because of injuries and ineffectiveness led to a fire sale to pick up prospects and continue to rebuild.

Strengths - Not a lot of them. Left field is manned sometimes by Khris Davis. He slugged 42 homeruns last year, which is a huge accomplishment in Oakland. Jason Giambi back in 2000 was the last Athletic to hit 40 plus homeruns in a stadium not known to be friendly to hitters. Davis defense is less than average and his arm is not strong so he may also spend a lot of time at designated hitter slot allowing an unheralded outfielder to take over this position. At shortstop Marcus Semien has a nice power bat. He hit 27 homeruns, which was second on the team. Like Davis he is not considered a stellar defensive player, though he cut his errors down to 21 last year after committing 35 in 2015.

Weakness - They have a potential platoon of fourth outfielders in center and right, and also left when Davis is the DH. Matt Joyce could not start for the Pirates last year but he is expected to be a starter for the Athletics. Rajai Davis is expected to patrol center but injuries allowed him to start more game than he should have for the Indians. Alejandro de Aza has a good chance of making this team as a fourth outfielder. At second base the team is relying on a utility player in Jed Lowrie and an unproven prospect in Joey Wendle to handle the position. Wendle was acquired from the Indians for Brandon Moss so they need to see if he can handle the position. Yonder Alonso will provide no power at first base. They might do better with Mark Canha or Ryon Healy to play first. The bullpen is dull and will do little to exude confidence. Ryan Madson struggled as a closer last year and he could be replaced by previous closer Sean Doolittle. They signed Santiago Casilla after he wore out his welcome with the Giants. Ryan Dull put up good numbers and could be used in a setup role. Doolittle is the only pitcher of those four who throws lefthanded and there are not a lot of viable options on the roster. The starting rotation needs the return of Sonny Gray and some unexpected brilliance from youngsters Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton to be more than adequate. Cotton had five solid starts in a late season callup. Kendall Graveman was the workhorse on the team but he is a mid-level starter at best.

Non-Roster Invitees to make roster - The Athletics need another player to fit into centerfield and that is where Alejandro de Aza comes in. Ross Detwiler is a lefty they can use in the rotation or in the bullpen.

Impact Prospects - Matt Chapman and Renato Nunez are their two top prospects ready for the major leagues. Unfortunately, they both play third base. Nunez is having a good winter in Venezuela after struggling last year in AAA. Chapman probably needs a couple months in AAA after struggling there last year in a late season callup. He hit 29 homeruns in AA and was four RBIs shy of 100 if you include his AAA numbers. At some point before the season is over the Athletics will trade veteran Trevor Plouffe, who is currently slotted for third. Jharel Cotton should make the rotation after his five start success after his late season callup. The power bat of Matt Olsen could see some time in the outfield by the All Star break, though his best defensive position may be first base. The Athletics greatest need is in the outfield. Nunez has also seen time there.

Prospects to Watch - Franklin Barreto is their best prospect but he is still a year away. The shortstop did hit .281 with a .753 OPS in AA. He could move Semien to second base if the Athletics want to call him up in September after a full season in AAA. Richie Martin is a smoother defensive shortstop but there is some question about his bat. He is a level below Barreto. Lazaro Armenteros is a 16 year old Cuban outfielder to watch. The potential is there for him to exhibit all five tools but his attitude is a bit cocky with shades of Yasiel Puig. Young pitchers to watch include the 6′7″ inch 2016 number one pick A.J. Puk. Puk can bounce the radar readings in triple digits, sitting between 95-97 with his fastball. Logan Shore was the second round pick in 2016. Shore was the ace of his Florida Gator staff while Puk was the second starter. Shore lacks the fastball of Puk, sitting in the low 90s but his command is better. Cuban pitcher Norge Ruiz was one of the better pitchers to come out of Cuba. He does not have overpowering stuff and lacks the length you want to see in a righthanded starter (6;0″). His selling point is getting hitters to pound the ball on the ground so he will need a good defense behind him to be effective.

2017 Finish - Myworld can not see anything but a last place finish for the Athletics. The farm system is starting to boast some high level prospects so the future is brighter. Where these prospects will play when they are major league ready is open to question as the stadium issue continues to go unresolved.

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