Fantasy Baseball Spotlight: Oakland Athletics

Trevor Cahill-Brett Anderson-Gio Gonzalez-Dallas Braden-Brandon McCarthy. A pretty sick starting rotation of potential, no? Your number four starter has a perfect game on his record and your number five starter posted a 3.32 ERA in 2011 and walked 25 batters in 170.2 innings. The Oakland Athletics could be pretty good in 2012.

That was a statement that could have potentially been made if the A's didn't suffer major injuries to Anderson and Braden, and trade away Cahill and Gonzalez. But what happens and happens and the A's are rebuilding... again. No amount of Moneyball is going to change the fact that the A's are going to have to win with fundamental baseball again, except it probably won't amount to over 75 wins.

Oakland's best hitter (and most desirable in fantasy) might be a guy that's never played a single minor or major league game. Their best starting pitcher is a guy that spent five years struggling on the White Sox and Rangers. No miracles this season for the A's. No movies. Not even a Lifetime Movie of the Week, unless Tyson Ross has to deal with being a pregnant teen.

Just baseball. Boring, no homer, fundamental baseball. (Welcome to my world.)

Best Hitter: Yoenis Cespedes

Screw it, what do I have to lose? The only returning player from 2011 that had more than 8 home runs for the A's last season is Kurt Suzuki and his 14 HR, 44 RBI, .237 season. Might as well take a chance on the new guy.

Coco Crisp had a 91 OPS+ but did steal 49 bases. Jemile Weeks might also steal 40 bases during a full season.

The projections from most of the major sources on Cespedes go something like .272/.324/.450, 20 HR, 72 RBI, 4 SB, 75 R. That would by far be the most interesting line on the Oakland A's this season unless Josh Reddick blows up, Kila Ka'Aihue hits like he did in the minors, or Coco steals 50 bases with 15 HR.

If you're going to draft one A's hitter, make it Cespedes. If he hits the ground running, his name recognition will at least fetch good value in a trade.

Best Pitcher: Brandon McCarthy

He's the funniest (and maybe only worthy follow) baseball player on Twitter and then he matched his wits with his game last season, finally breaking through at the age of 27. Now, he's the lone man standing from that 2011 starting rotation.

Look for McCarthy to post something like 10-12 wins, an ERA around 3.50, and 140 strikeouts with a low WHIP.

If Jarrod Parker makes like 28+ starts, he could be an ace and a solid fantasy player as soon as right now. I also like Tom Milone and Brad Peacock. Make no mistake, the A's did at least fetch some solid returns on the trade market and by next season they could go right back to having an electric starting rotation. I think Milone/Parker/Peacock are all worthy of fliers right now.

Potential Breakout: Brad Peacock

It's the A's man. They have a way with pitchers. Peacock has catapulted himself from a 41st round pick into a prospect that posted an 11.77 K/9 and 2.10 BB/9 in 98.2 AA innings last season with a 2.01 ERA. He also struck out a batter per inning in 48 AAA innings.

Acquired in the Gio trade, Peacock could immediately fill a starters role in Oakland and contribute. There are questions about his durability and how good his stuff really is compared to his production (low-to-mid 90s FB, CH, curve) but I believe in Peacock.

Go on shake your tailfeathers.

Potential Disappointment: Cespedes

'Cause let's be real. We don't know enough about this guy.

Prospect Watch: Per BA

1. Jarrod Parker, rhp
2. Brad Peacock, rhp
3. Sonny Gray, rhp
4. A.J. Cole, rhp
5. Michael Choice, of
6. Grant Green, of
7. Derek Norris, c
8. Jermaine Mitchell, of
9. Michael Taylor, of
10. Tom Milone, lhp

Thank God this was updated with all of the trades, since Parker, Peacock, Cole, Norris, and Milone are all new guys. That's certainly one way to rebuild a farm system and the A's did a great job with it.

Believe it or not, Parker has made the BA top 100 five times. That has to be some kind of record. He's #26 this year even though his walks were a little high in 2011, not surprising after missing a full year from TJ surgery. He's never pitched in AAA and it wouldn't hurt to give him at least a few starts there. Otherwise, he's got 200 K potential.

Gray was a first round choice in 2011 and was great in his minor league debut, though it was only 20 innings. He could be up in Oakland in September if all goes well this year.

Gio Gonzalez sure did fetch a whole hell of a lot from the Nationals and even if Gio somehow won a Cy Young with the Nats this year it would be hard to argue with the return. Norris and Milone are legitimate prospects in their own right that could certainly fill roles on the major league level, with potential ceilings to be much more. Peacock could hover between a number 2 and 3 starter. Then there's Cole who struck out 108 batters in 89 innings and walked on 24 in A ball at the age of 19. Cole could be the gem of this whole deal. We might not see him in the majors until 2014, but he'll be one to watch this year.

Choice strikes out a lot (a lot) but could hit 40 HR at the major league level if he made enough contact. Lots of raw power but ETA of 2013.

Green is a failed SS prospect that's now 24 and has terrible plate discipline, little power, and is an outfielder. Post-hype sleeper, maybe. Jermaine Mitchell is already 27.

Michael Taylor is 26 and a far cry from when he was the #29 prospect prior to the 2010 season.

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