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April 2, 2014 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2014 Fantasy Baseball Top Five Questions: Oakland A’s

2014 Fantasy Baseball Top Five Questions: Oakland A’s
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The A’s have made careers by finding and exploiting inefficiencies in the baseball marketplace. It’s probably in fantasy GMs best interest to give a player a second or even third look when the A’s decide to invest in a player. There appear to be a few new faces in Oakland and a few new inefficiencies for fantasy GMs to look for. 

5. Any chance we see Addison Russell this year? Probably not, but there’s a better than 1% chance. Russell is a true five-tool talent who could evolve into a 20-20 guy with a plus hit tool. What would need to happen for Russell to find his way to Oakland is as follows; 1. He has to absolutely rake at Double-A. 2. Eric Sogard and Nick Punto have to suck out loud offensively and defensively. 3. The A’s have to be in contention. It’s a tall order, but it’s not impossible. He’s not worth a stash at this point in a mixed league, but he’s a name to keep in the back of your mind.

4. Why did they trade for Jim Johnson? Well, they needed a closer once it was clear that Grant Balfour wouldn’t be coming back and they dealt Jemile Weeks for him. There is a non-zero chance that Weeks never sees the majors again. Johnson has defied the odds for two seasons and posted back-to-back 50+ save seasons. The metrics might not like him very much, but he’s good at his job and he was available for essentially nothing.

The name to watch if Johnson falters is Luke Gregerson. Gregerson was acquired for a reason and that reason was to keep names like Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle out of the ninth inning.

3. Derek Norris or John Jaso? There are scenarios in which both are playable.The plan in Oakland appears to give Norris the bulk of the work behind the plate and let Jaso serve as part of a DH platoon when he isn’t catching.  Jaso is competent against right-handed pitching, but struggles terribly against lefties. Norris is actually useful against left-handed pitching, but still figures to get full-time work. Derek is a fine second catcher in a 15-team league or a one-catcher AL-only format. Jaso is playable in both, but has some extra value in OPS leagues. They’re waiver wire fodder in most mixed league formats, but either guy can fill a role given the right circumstances.

2. Is there any chance Josh Donaldson repeats his 2013 season? Unlikely. His batted ball profile indicates that he’s not a .333 BABIP guy. He doesn’t hit nearly enough line drives or have enough speed to maintain a number that high. His BABIP should fall and with it his counting stats. He posted 89 runs and 93 RBIs last year. He’s a good bet to come in under those numbers. The power is probably legit, but he’s a good bet to regress across the board. He’s a poor bet to earn his draft status.

1. Which pitchers are in and which pitchers are out of the rotation? Jarrod Parker won’t be seen again until 2015 and A.J. Griffin is out until early to mid May. This means that Jesse Chavez and Tom “Bones” Milone will start the season in the rotation.

Chavez has a fantastic profile picture and could actually have some upside as a spot starter in mixed leagues. Chavez added a cutter to his arsenal in 2012 and appeared to figure out how to use it in 2013. He posted a 8.63 K/9 in 57 1/3 innings out of the bullpen last year. It remains to be seen if his stuff translates to the rotation, but he’s always had success in the rotation in Triple-A. There are worse pitchers to own.

The book on Milone is fairly well known. He gives up a lot of fly-balls, doesn’t walk very many, but he is susceptible to the long ball. Milone posted a career high 7.25 K/9 last year. He needs to be at or above that number in order to worthwhile in most mixed league formats. He owns a 3.21 ERA at The Coliseum for his career, so he’s at least worth streaming at home.

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