I thought I'd shift gears and take a quick look at the Oakland A's and their fantasy ramifications for 2007.
Throughout their mini-run of winning the last few years, there have been a couple of points where it looked like the A's were going to crack. Spring Training 2005 was one of those moments in my mind. The team had just traded Mark Mulder and looked like they were about to enter full-blown rebuilding mode. Of course, all the A's did was keep on finding ways to win.
Two years later, it really is starting to look like the cupboard is nearly bare, and you have to wonder if Billy Beane is thinking about tearing it down and starting over in 2008.
Even for them, their offense is weak. Mike Piazza is a downgrade from Frank Thomas. Milton Bradley and Mark Kotsay both need to increase their output, as the A's have two OF that are simply unacceptable producers for a major league team. Dan Johnson needs to produce like he did at the end of '05. Eric Chavez needs to play like a superstar again.
And I'm not convinced that any of these things will happen.
From a fantasy standpoint, there isn't an Athletic I'd spend all that much on. I'll assume Chavez earns more than the putrid $11 he earned last year, but you can't go back to paying $30 and expecting him to be an elite. How long do you go on price enforcing Milton Bradley in the hopes that his head catches up with his body? Bobby Crosby is another guy some might price enforce to $15 in the hopes that this is his year. I won't.
The staff loses a lot without Zito, even though Zito was slipping and becoming a WHIP nightmare. Sliding Kennedy in for Zito is a huge loss. Dan Haren might be the biggest breakout guy here, but I can't see going too far past the $20 he earned last year in the hopes that he goes crazy on a team I don't have a lot of faith in.
More importantly, I don't see a prospect who excites me all that much beyond Travis Buck (OF). Shane Komine, Jason Windsor and Dan Meyer figure to be the guys closest to the majors, but not one of them can be considered a surefire thing.
The A's might try to pull another rabbit out of their hat in the trading market, but it's discouraging to see what Beane did, or didn't do, this winter. He brought in Piazza and 37-year old reliever Alan Embree. Everyone's talking up Rule V pick Ryan Golecki, but he's a back-up at best.
The rumor that kept getting floated around this winter had Joe Blanton going to the Mets for Lastings Milledge. Well, sure I'd pull the trigger on that trade too if I were the A's. What's even more problematic for Oakland is that I don't see who you plug into the rotation if Blanton does get moved.
Obviously, you're going to be drafting A's in a 4x4, A.L. only league. But don't pay too much for any of them. Dan Johnson and Bobby Crosby could be good post-hype buys, but I see several players at the position I'd rather buy or draft.