Report: Texas is nearing a deal to land free-agent 3B Adrian Beltre. The A's recently withdrew themselves from the running to add Beltre. (Photo Courtesy of yardbarker.com)

Beltre to Texas Would Not Be Good News For A's

It’s just January, but the Oakland A’s are heading into the 2011 campaign as an improved ball-club thanks to GM Billy Beane’s aggressive approach this offseason. The A’s in 2010 were characterized by their strong young pitching, but were known throughout baseball as a very poor offensive bunch.

Beane’s attempts at re-tooling the offseason thus far have been solid, but the team did miss out on a few key players this offseason: Adam Dunn (signed with White Sox), Hisashi Iwakuma (returned to Japan), Lance Berkman (signed with St. Louis), and more recently, Adrian Beltre (sources say Texas is close to adding him).

The A’s did, however, add guys like OF David DeJesus, DH Hideki Matsui, and OF Josh Willingham on offense, and bolstered their pitching staff with the signings of Brandon McCarthy and Rich Harden. The additions make the A’s a stronger team for the 2011 season, but with news swirling around Texas about the possible signing of Adrian Beltre, are they enough to make the A’s favorites in the AL West?

Texas did lose SP Cliff Lee, but let’s not forget that the Rangers are still a force considering the type of offense they have. The Rangers last season ranked 1st in all of baseball in average (.276), 6th in on-base percentage (.338), 9th in slugging (.419), and 5th in runs (787). The A’s meanwhile ranked 17th in average (.256), 16th in on-base (.324), 26th in slugging (.378), and 23rd in runs (663).

Adding a guy like Beltre to an already deadly Rangers lineup does not bode well for the rest of the American League West. The A’s have great young pitching, but without a productive offense behind their young staff, the A’s won’t get very far in 2011. Adding Matsui, who hit .274 with 21 homers last season with the Angels, was a good move, and Matsui should be a definite upgrade over Jack Cust, who signed with Seattle.

DeJesus and Willingham are upgrades in the outfield, although it’s sad to see that Ryan Sweeney will likely get reduced to a bench-player due to the over-populated outfield in Oakland. DeJesus hit .318/.384/.443 with 5 HR and 37 RBIs in 91 games last year with the Royals. He’s not a very powerful guy, but he should be a pleasant addition in the Oakland clubhouse.

Willingham, meanwhile, represents a big power upgrade in Oakland’s outfield. Last season, Coco Crisp hit 8 long-balls for Oakland, which was the highest total among the outfielders in Oakland. Rajai Davis, who hit 5, was second for most homers among A’s outfielders. Willingham hit .268/.389/.459 with 16 HR and 56 RBIs in 114 games with the Nationals last season.

These additions are nice for Oakland, but once Texas (assuming the rumors are true) adds Beltre, all of these improvements will seem like yesterday’s news. The A’s still have some room for improvement, and could still benefit from adding another bat to the lineup. The team has solid young pitching, but they also still have money to spend. Will it just sit there or does Billy Beane & Co. have something up their sleeve?

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