Sunday, March 9, 2008
Although the Oakland Athletics have not been very active in scouting in the Dominican Republic and other places in Latin America, they have developed some of their young players very well. Not only that, but they have gone out and acquired some very solid pitchers. There is no doubt in my mind that in a couple years, maybe even 2009, the Athletics will be contending for the playoffs. They have Joe Blanton leading the rotation, but he is likely to be traded for more prospects either this season or next offseason. Billy Beane said Rich Harden is looking better than ever, so expect him to lead that rotation. Some of the players they acquired via trade this off season are really turning heads in Spring Training. I'm going to start with Joey Devine, the pitcher they got in the Mark Kotsay trade. Devine is a hard throwing right hander who will probably set up for Huston Street. He moves the ball very well, and if Street and Devine do well, it will probably lead to a Street trade for prospects so Devine could close.
In the Nick Swisher trade, the A's acquired well traveled Gio Gonzalez, Fautino De Los Santos, and Ryan Sweeney. Gonzalez, 22, is one of the top young pitchers in the A's organization. He throws hard, he is starting to mature, and he is starting to command his second and third pitches better. He has done well in the action he has seen and could see MLB time this season. He should help the team down the road.
In the trade that sent Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks, the A's got pitchers Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, and Greg Smith. Beane told me that Eveland has the best chance to make the club out of camp, but Smith is showing he has what it takes to pitch regularly in the MLB. One scout said he is surprisingly deceptive for his age. He is also a lefty, which should help because the Athletics pitching favors righties.
Finally, Henry Rodriguez is probably the top pitcher in Athletics camp so far. He went 6-8 with a 3.07 ERA in Single-A last season but scouts are raving about the 21 year old. Peter Gammons talked to a scout talking about Henry Rodriguez: "The best young pitcher I've seen in two years out here is Oakland's Henry Rodriguez. He throws 98 with a devastating breaking ball." Gammons says he is nineteen but he is listed at twenty-one (here we go again).
Assuming these guys can stay healthy, we are looking at a nasty starting rotation by 2010:
SP Rich Harden
SP Gio Gonzalez
SP Chad Gaudin
SP Greg Smith
SP Henry Rodriguez
CP Joey Devine
Now, I assuming the A's will trade Joe Blanton and Huston Street, and I am also assuming that Lenny DiNardo will be out of the rotation. I am optimistic that the A's prospects will come through, but even if the A's go out and bring in a veteran, they will have a lot of depth in their rotation. Plain and simple, the Mariners and Angels will be facing more competition in their division in a season or two.