It appears as if people have not learned how to interpret the words of Billy Beane. If what he told reporters including Jane Lee of MLB.com a week ago is to be believed, the A’s are expected to stand pat this offseason and only make minor changes to the roster. But Beane has ha a long standing policy of revealing next to nothing about his plans for the roster, so Lee may simply be making an educated guess at what Beane plans to do.
It became fairly clear that there were some obvious weaknesses on this team throughout the course of the season. The lack of production from right fielder Josh Reddick left a huge void, and cost the A’s in many situations where a big hit, or even just some solid contact would have helped the A’s. Despite perceptions to the contrary, the second base situation left a lot to be desired as well. While Alberto Callaspo did an admirable job in his time with the A’s, Eric Sogard had what can only be described as a mediocre season at best. The bottom line though was that they proved that the platoon situation wasn’t getting the job done.
While some of these weaknesses would have been nearly impossible to address during the season, the offseason presents endless opportunities to make drastic improvements to your team. Not drastic like dropping a quarter-billion dollars on Robinson Cano, something we all know will never ever happen in Oakland, but something like acquiring a second baseman who can hit both lefties and righties. It’s a novel concept, and one that the A’s should strongly consider if they wish to be anything but a postseason also-ran for the postseason for all eternity.
The depth of the Athletics roster is what made them successful, when players like Eric Sogard or Stephen Vogt weren’t producing, there was always someone in the lineup who was. That depth becomes moot though in a short series, and Jim Leyland expertly neutralized that depth by keeping Derek Norris and Chris Young on the bench. It doesn’t matter who you have on the bench if the players are never used. The reliance on platoons and splits ultimately doomed the A’s, as the players whose names were called as dictated by the match ups all went cold.
It’s tough to say whether Josh Reddick’s future in Oakland is in doubt, there’s no question the A’s are enamored by his defense, but there is serious doubt as to whether or not he can recapture his stroke from early 2012. Michael Choice is waiting in the wings, so Reddick could become expendable. Either way, a lineup dependent on a rebound from Reddick is likely a lineup that hasn’t addressed its weaknesses.
I expect much more activity from Billy Beane than others do, the team needs some retooling and he can’t possibly be blind to that fact. The future success of the team will likely depend on his ability to see it.