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Ranking the Oakland A’s Best All-Star Game Candidates

The All-Star Game is July 14 and the Oakland A’s have several quality candidates that could head to Cincinnati to represent the American League.

Unfortunately, fan voting seems like it will knock out many of those candidates, from Oakland and many other teams, in place of much less deserving players. Because of that, the likelihood the A’s send more than a player or two are slim.

Despite that, and a losing record, Oakland has three solid options, with three fringe players that wouldn’t be terrible injury replacements.


Fringe Guys

I’m not saying these guys should go. I’m saying these guys could go if there is a lack of better options, and they wouldn’t be terrible picks.

Marcus Semien has a slim chance of making the team, but it’d have to be as a replacement.

He currently has the third-most votes among AL shortstops. Stats-wise, he’s hot on Alcides Escobar‘s tail (Escobar leads votes). The two are neck and neck in hits, runs, doubles and stolen bases. Semien walks more, but strikes out more. He hits more home runs. Escobar has the RBI total.

Josh Reddick is in the hunt but faces an even tougher challenge.

He currently has the 10th-most votes among outfielders. Yet, he has the eighth-best batting average of AL outfielders. I know, I know, batting average isn’t the best stat. For what it’s worth, he has the second-most RBI, too.

I imagine the starting pitchers in the discussion to represent the American League include a guy on this list, Dallas Keuchel, Chris Archer and David Price at the top. Felix Hernandez will be up there too, because, well, he’s Felix Hernandez.

Down the line is Scott Kazmir.

Among those with at least 90 innings pitched, Kazmir has the seventh-best ERA in the American League. He’s also hanging around in WHIP and FIP (Fangraphs). He’s too far removed to be in the discussion as a top-five guy, but he might crack the top-10 and make the team if guys toward the top drop out.


3. Jesse Chavez

Jesse Chavez is more deserving than Scott Kazmir. Hear me out.

As a starter, Chavez is right there. His 2.91 FIP is eighth best in the AL. His 3.02 ERA is 10th best. His 2.1 WAR is ninth best. But his HR/9 numbers are at the top in terms of lowest.

Here’s the kicker.

Throw in the six innings he pitched as a reliever. From the bullpen, Chavez kept a 0.00 ERA, struck out nine and walked one.

Hence, because of his versatility, because he can pitch virtually any time in any role, he’s a valuable asset for the American League team. He’s a top-10 starting pitcher and he hasn’t been scored on as a reliever in a small sample size this season. (Though we know on a larger scale he is in fact effective out of the pen.)

It seems like a smart move to include him on the roster.


2. Stephen Vogt

As CSN’s Brodie Brazil pointed out June 21, Stephen Vogt was ahead of leading vote-getter Salvador Perez in multiple categories. Today it still holds true, albeit in home runs, where Perez and Vogt are tied. Vogt‘s WAR is 2.8 compared to Perez’s 1.3. His .335 BABIP blows Perez’s .273 away.

Kansas City fans stuffed the ballot boxes, so it’s going to be difficult for Vogt to overtake Perez, but he can definitely make the All-Star Game as a backup catcher.

The only other two guys close are Russell Martin and Brian McCann.

Vogt isn’t just making a case for himself against fellow catchers only, either. His batting average is 11th best in the American League. He’s in the top 10 for walks and RBI as well.

While it seems like Vogt should be the starter, the next guy leaves no doubt he’s deserving.


1. Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray is hands down the best candidate to be the A’s representative at the All-Star Game.

As of this writing, he leads the American League in ERA. His 2.68 FIP is fourth in the AL. His 3.9 WAR is second only to Dallas Keuchel‘s 4.1. Gray’s 0.99 WHIP is fourth in the AL as well. 

Of 16 starts, 12 have been quality starts.

But not only is Gray pitching well generally speaking, he’s pitching at such a high caliber that many consider him the front-runner to start for the American League at the All-Star Game.

On June 3, David Schoenfield of ESPN said Gray should start. According to Matt Kawahara of the Sacramento BeeStephen Vogt agrees:

Doesn’t matter what he does between now and the All-Star Game. The first half Sonny’s had and the way our team’s been playing, with our record … Sonny Gray is 100 percent an All-Star, if not the starting pitcher of the All-Star Game, in my opinion.

Gray’s last two starts have been ugly. If that trend continues, he’ll likely go to the game, but not start. However, if he “returns to form” for lack of better words, it’d be disappointing if he didn’t start.

We’ll see how it shakes out.

I’d guess Gray and Vogt are locks. Chavez is iffy and the rest don’t make it.

All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted.


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Oakland Athletics Rumors: Latest News Surrounding the A’s

The Oakland A’s record is disappointing two months in, so naturally, there’s already chatter about the team trading stars.

Stephen Vogt and Josh Reddick are in the top 20 in weighted runs created plus (wRC+). Sonny Gray, Jesse Chavez and Scott Kazmir—the first two of which are in the top 11 in fielding independent pitching (FIP)—have pitched incredibly well and could certainly help any rotation.

Ben Zobrist is a consistent hitter who can play outfield and infield positions.

Teams in need of relievers could even inquire about Tyler Clippard or Evan Scribner, two of the team’s better relievers this season. If brave enough to deal with Sean Doolittle’s shoulder, a team could have interest in the All-Star closer as well.

If they’re sellers, the A’s have plenty of options to move.

Here are the rumors surrounding each guy in the news along with a brief case for what the team should do.


Ben Zobrist

The loudest noise being made involves one Ben Zobrist.

According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Cubs have set their sights on the versatile veteran.

“Zobrist, a Joe Maddon favorite who played for the Cubs manager for nine years in Tampa Bay, would dramatically alter the look of a Cubs bench in shambles and allow Maddon to rotate days off for at least five starters he’s been forced to play almost every inning,” Wittenmyer wrote.

Wittenmyer goes on to say that sources tell him A’s general manager Billy Beane is not open to trading Zobrist or other top players away yet.

The A’s are 12 games back of the division-leading Houston Astros and nine games back from a wild-card spot. It’s worth noting that on May 30, 2012, the A’s were nine games back in the division and finished in first place on the last day of the season. So a major comeback is not out of the question.

Perhaps it’s overly simplistic to say, but four good months outweigh two poor months.

Beane isn’t wrong to hold out hope.

To this point, the A’s are 3-15 in one-run games. An error here, a poor bullpen performance there, and the team loses a close game. Iron out the errors (the A’s brought in Ron Washington to work with shortstop Marcus Semien) and the bullpen woes, and those one-run losses could easily turn in the A’s favor.

It’s not like the team is being blown out night after night. It’s been shut out five times. It’s shut an opponent out seven times.

And when it comes to hitting, Zobrist has been one of the best.

He hits left-handed pitching well, and he’s hitting well with runners on base (.314 batting average, .359 on-base percentage, .303 BABIP).

As for defense, there isn’t anyone more important than Zobrist.

His versatility allows him to play the middle infield and both corner outfield positions. This allows a team like the A’s—who mix, match and platoon like mad men—the ability to utilize Zobrist‘s bat and keep him on the field when others rest or are injured.

Adam Kadourhe of the Gold Jersey Dynasty Talk Radio podcast believes that because of Zobrist‘s talents and impending free agency, Beane should deal him now regardless of the win-loss record.

Zobrist is obviously coveted, and for good reason. But it’s for that reason Beane should consider holding on to him above most of the other options. He’s too valuable to lose in a postseason push.


Scott Kazmir

The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo speculated the A’s could be one of the first to become sellers assuming they don’t turn things around. Cafardo calls Kazmir “the prize” of the bunch.

Cafardo is correct from a business standpoint.

Though it could be argued Chavez is still somewhat unproven as a starter, as of right now, he has the sixth-best FIP in all of baseball, better than notable pitchers like Gray, Felix Hernandez and Matt Harvey. So the cost could be higher. Also, for what it’s worth, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times believes the Los Angeles Dodgers may have interest in Chavez.

With Gray, there’s no doubt it’ll take a king’s ransom to net the 25-year-old ace.

At 31, Kazmir could simply be the most cost-friendly pitcher the A’s have in terms of the prospects it would take to net him. It’d take less to get him than Gray. It could take less to get him than Chavez, too, but even if it does take more, he’s pitched better overall on a longer timeline.

If there’s a guy the A’s could get away with dealing, it’s Kaz.

They’d lose the compensatory pick, sure, but they’d gain one if Zobrist leaves this winter. So it’d be a nice mix of comp picks plus acquired prospects. Drew Pomeranz or a returning A.J. Griffin could fill Kazmir’s rotation spot. (The hope would be they’re close to as effective.)

In fact, as Kadourhe argued above regarding Zobrist, I’d argue the same for Kazmir.

Cafardo believes the Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays and San Francisco Giants would be interested in the pitcher.


Other Notables

Various other names have been whispered about as well.

The A’s would be foolish to trade Gray this soon due to his talent, age and affordability. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports agrees with that sentiment and does not believe it will happen this year.

Due to his health, Coco Crisp is not going anywhere.

Doolittle began the season with a shoulder strain, returned, pitched one inning and landed back on the shelf. He has much to prove before teams inquire about him seriously.

Billy Butler’s contract could make him challenging to move, especially considering he’s trending downward. But if he gains steam, it could become an easier sell.

How about Vogt, who is in the thick of a career year? According to Peter Gammons, Beane told a fellow GM in late May, “I’m not trading Vogt. Period.”

With the way he’s hitting so far and a history of Gold Glove defense, you’d think Reddick is a quality candidate to be traded while he’s young, cheapish and controllable. Scouring the Internet, you’ll find his name mentioned in the same sentence as “trade,” but no one has definitively linked him to a team.

In fact, most have simply said, “He is good, therefore he could be traded.”


There are two sides to trading Reddick. One says keep him, let him continue to build on what we’re seeing this season and then flip him when his value is higher. The other may contend the team should swap him out now while his value is at its peak.

If at the end of June, the A’s are scuffling, trading Reddick isn’t a terrible option.

Of course, if that’s the case, then trading anyone not named Gray isn’t a terrible option.


Advanced statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

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Re-Evaluating the Oakland Athletics’ Top Draft Picks from the Past Decade

With the 2015 first-year player draft approaching, let’s take a look back at how the last 10 Oakland A’s first-round draft picks have fared.

Because hindsight is a beautiful thing.

For purposes of a tidy list, we’ll stick with the first overall selection from each year dating back to 2005. There may be a better draft pick, a guy picked later who is playing better currently. If that’s the case, that player may get a brief mention, but again, this article will concentrate on the first pick.

Also worth noting, guys more recently drafted—2012 through 2014 for example—will get more leniency.

So how have the A’s done with their first picks? For ease, we’ll call each one a hit or a miss.

Let’s find out.

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3 Bold Predictions for the Remainder of the Oakland A’s Season

The Oakland A’s season has not gone as expected, and yet we may see a few more surprises before all is said and done.

Just over one month into the season, the A’s are struggling.

Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir have been solid. After them, the starting pitching has been all over the place. The offense is inconsistent, and the bullpen is a problem. Injuries have decimated the roster as well. From leadoff hitter Coco Crisp to closer Sean Doolittle, key players have missed extended periods here and there.

Though there are four-and-a-half months left of baseball, many have given up on Oakland already.

But it’s a long season. We’ve seen division leaders with large leads collapse late; the A’s did that just last year. So really, anything can still happen.

Here are three bold predictions for the remainder of the 2015 season.


Barry Zito Pitches for the Green and Gold at Some Point

Not including Ike Davis, the A’s have used a total of 19 pitchers so far.

The rate at which Oakland has called up and sent down pitchers is staggering. If the trend continues, it’s only a matter of time before Barry Zito is called up.

I’m not saying he’ll blow the socks off the organization and flat-out earn it. I’m not saying he’ll be the A’s savior.

But beyond Pat Venditte, the team is running out of relievers to try.

As for starters, Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are delayed in returning from Tommy John surgery. So if a Drew Pomeranz or Jesse Hahn struggle, a move will need to be made if the A’s hope to avoid digging an even deeper hole. Or, because the bullpen has been so bad, the A’s could push Drew Pomeranz or Jesse Chavez back into the pen and try Zito in the rotation.

Zito could be called up simply out of short-term necessity. 

As of now, the organization needs to try anything it can just to stay afloat.


If Sellers, the A’s Trade No One or Just One Player

On the optimistic side, the A’s will get healthy, put things together consistently, find their midseason form and turn things around to make a serious run.

That would make them buyers at the deadline, or else they’d stand pat.

It’s not unrealistic to foresee that happening. Currently, the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels have produced similar results. As expected, the standings are close, for now.

If worse comes to worst, Oakland will drop out of the race. Would they become sellers?

Their most valuable asset is Sonny Gray. They’d be foolish to trade him now. Next year, maybe. Next year, probably. But I just don’t see that happening in 2015.

Guys like Josh Reddick, Stephen Vogt and Jesse Chavez may provide some value, but I also don’t believe other teams would bank on one of those three being the piece that pushes them over all other contenders. Likewise, I don’t see the A’s getting too much value for any of them, at least not this season (put together one more consistently solid season, and we’ll talk.)

With Coco Crisp’s age and injury history, he’s not a likely candidate to trade either. Sean Doolittle is coming off a significant injury, so he’d be a risk for teams as well. Nearly every other player is either young enough that the A’s would benefit by holding on to him, or not valuable enough.

One popular trade candidate is Scott Kazmir. But as this Twitter conversation points out, a few A’s fans believe holding on to Kazmir is the smarter play:

There’s also Ben Zobrist. He’s a proven, consistent, versatile veteran who could certainly help a ball club. And like Kazmir, he’s gone after this year.

Oakland could conceivably offer Zobrist a qualifying offer as well, so the A’s could end up trading no one, even if they do not contend. A non-move would be a bold strategy, especially considering the A’s penchant for trades.

The A’s will hold on to both men for the potential picks or trade just one at the deadline.


The A’s Will Have 4 All-Stars

Idiotic prediction, you say?

Sonny Gray could make the All-Star team. Scott Kazmir could, too. At his current pace, Stephen Vogt is playing like an All-Star. Josh Reddick is up there, for now.

How about a sneaky fifth option?

What if Evan Scribner joined the squad? As of this writing (pre-May 11, he’s eighth in innings pitched as a reliever and holds a 2.00 ERA. He also has 20 strikeouts and just two walks.

If you’re not sold on Scribner, Ike Davis could easily build his stats by the All-Star break as well. The point is, though the record doesn’t reflect it, the A’s have numerous All-Star candidates.


Fan Predictions

I wanted to know what A’s fans thought, so I put it out on Twitter. Here’s what I got.

Oakland’s bullpen currently holds the third-worst ERA in all of baseball, but one fan thought the A’s could turn things around and finish with the best in the league:

Now that’s bold.

Others agreed that the A’s would turn things around in the end and finish strong but were split on whether the end result would be a playoff spot or not:

Finally, another mostly agreed that the A’s will move at least one player but that several others have a shot at taking home an honor by season’s end.

Outside of an utter tank job in which the A’s lose 100 games and multiple guys are traded before August 1, there’s plenty of potential for surprises in the next few months.

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8 Biggest Takeaways from the First Month of the Oakland A’s Season

After one month of baseball, we’ve learned quite a bit about the 2015 Oakland Athletics, haven’t we?

The area many thought would be a strength is a weakness. The one many questioned is a strength. And the third component we expected to be mostly good with some bad has been…mostly good with some bad.

New leaders have emerged.

New faces are clicking with each other.

Veterans have risen again.

Yet, the record still doesn’t reflect many of the positives. It’s already been an emotional rollercoaster. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.

(Written before the completion of Sunday’s game with stats courtesy of

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Oakland A’s Biggest Storylines to Follow at the Start of 2015

The Oakland A’s are always filled with entertaining storylines, and 2015 is no different.

The team is fun. From the white cleats to the famed right field bleacher crew, the A’s are exciting and unique. 

They made a big splash this offseason with a ton of moves, and many worried the A’s took a step backward. But then they moved on to spring training, where they finished with the best record of any team.

But is it all a facade?

The A’s have four major storylines to follow with another four that should be fun to watch early on, ranked from least important to most for your convenience. 

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Complete Oakland Athletics 2015 Spring Training Preview

Oakland Athletics‘ FanFest is in the books, which means the next big event is the beginning of spring training.

It’s been a hectic offseason, so whether you’ve lived under a rock or paid full attention, you’ll probably need a refresher course regardless.

The team made plenty of additions. That, of course, was to fill the myriad losses. Oakland made some coaching changes. The farm system has been shaken up. All in all, the A’s have changed—big time.

As we head into spring training, let’s take a look at all of those changes and preview the lineup, rotation, bullpen, potential breakout candidates, prospects to watch and likely position battles.

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New Year’s Resolutions for the Oakland A’s in 2015

You can bet, like most people, the players on the Oakland A’s have New Year’s resolutions for 2015.

During the week of Christmas, I asked A’s fans what would be on their wish list. This week I’ll keep the holiday spirit alive and venture a guess as to what many of the A’s starters’ New Year’s resolutions might be, specifically pertaining to the 2015 baseball season.

Of course there are a few disclaimers to mention.

First, the following list is made up by me. The resolutions on this list were not provided by the player unless otherwise specifically stated. As such, take them lightly and enjoy.

Lastly, because many resolutions could be similar for a few guys, I combined them to save you a slide.

You’re welcome. And Happy New Year!

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A Fan’s Christmas Wish List for Athletics in 2015

Dear Santa,

I don’t want too much for Christmas. There are just a few things I would love to see. I don’t even care about the presents underneath my Christmas tree.

I just want you to do a few things for the Oakland Athletics.

Please make the following wishes come true. If you can’t make all of these happen, Santa, then for your convenience, I have ordered them from least realistic to most realistic.


A Big-Name Slugger

After trading away five All-Stars since July, including big names like Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson, A’s fans need some assurance. They could use a big name to keep the hope alive that Oakland won’t fall deep into the cellar of the AL West.

Perhaps a shortstop?

Troy Tulowitzki would be fun to watch in green and gold, no doubt about it. And if he can stay healthy, he’d easily come close to (or jump past) Donaldson’s production.

The A’s like versatile players, and there are few more versatile in Major League Baseball than Ben Zobrist.

Look, some of us aren’t even picky.

Of course, that’s assuming the Cuban bat you bring us is of the power-hitting variety.

Mr. Kringle, I know this request is unlikely. But having a guy like Tulowitzki or Zobrist would mean a lot to this fanbase. It’d give us a sign that not all is lost. Simply put, it’d be exciting.


Increased Production from Second Base

Santa, I’m unsure if you are an A’s fan, let alone a baseball fan, but Oakland recently allowed Alberto Callaspo to sign elsewhere and released Nick Punto. That leaves Eric Sogard as the starting second baseman with Andy Parrino behind him (assuming Marcus Semien plays shortstop).

In 2014, Sogard appeared in 117 games, finishing with a batting average of .223 and an on-base percentage of .298. It wasn’t the best season for the king of the “#nerdpower” movement, and we’d like to see that change.

They didn’t provide specifics, but some A’s fans want that particular spot upgraded.

A few fellow fans and I would like you to simply gift Sogard a career year instead of bringing in outside, more expensive competition. Because why not have one of “our guys” succeed?


At the Least, Health for All

Mr. Claus, if there’s just one thing you can give the A’s in 2015, we humbly request good health for all.


There are a few nights before Christmas left, and many of us are stirring at the thought of what’s next. Our stockings are hung by the chimney with care. We can’t wait for you, St. Nicholas, to get here. You know we’ll be dreaming—dreaming of a green Christmas—just like the ones we used to know.

Hopefully, the 2015 season is somewhere between this:

And this:

And if it is, baseball season will be the most wonderful time of the year—just the way it always is.


Oakland A’s fans

PS: Seriously, please don’t let the A’s lose 100 games.

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Reassessing Oakland A’s Offseason Plan and Breaking Down What’s Next

The Oakland A’s went into the winter meetings looking like they might contend again in 2015. They came out of the meetings three All-Stars lighter.

Now what?

Last we heard from general manager Billy Beane, he told the media he now plans to spend some of the cash saved in the Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson and Jeff Samardzija trades. Here’s what Beane said in quotes captured by John Hickey of Mercury News:

We’ve collected young players, and we’re going to try to redeploy the extra payroll. We are trying to walk the delicate balance, getting younger and trying to be as good as we can as quickly as possible. We’ve never been an organization that says, ‘Hey, we’re going to punt for the next five years and get a top-10 draft pick. That’s not in our DNA.

But here’s the most interesting quote from the Hickey article: “We are not done. There are a few things we’d still like to do. We have a laundry list of things we’d like to get done.”

Not an item or two—a laundry list.

What is on that list is anyone’s guess, though. Most saw the Samardzija trade coming. The act of trading Brandon Moss didn’t shock too many. Josh Donaldson joining the Toronto Blue Jays was a most unexpected move.

From the given to the unforeseen, Beane‘s touched on both sides of the spectrum this offseason in terms of moves made.

At this point it’s clear Beane shed some money where it was easy to do so. That seems to be the offseason plan on an annual basis. If we take his words as truth without deception, we can assume the plan moving forward is to remain in competition in the near future.

But does that mean 2015?

Ten teams go to playoffs. As one of them, the A’s lost in their first postseason game, and that was with Moss, Donaldson, Samardzija, Jed Lowrie, Luke Gregerson and Jon Lester. All six are gone now and should their replacements take Oakland further than the All-Stars did, then Beane should be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame immediately.

Let’s assume the replacements will not do that, though.

The other nine teams in the 2014 postseason should compete again in 2015. Another four teams just missed and three more were fairly close. Throw in the Miami Marlins, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs who think they can compete and the Boston Red Sox who should return to the fray and we’re now talking 20 of 30 teams legitimately threatening to take one of 10 spots.

That’s not including Oakland.

Perhaps in this wild free agency full of crazy-big contracts, heavy spending and Oprah Winfrey-style trades (“You make a trade, you make a trade, everyone makes a trade”), the A’s are smart to take a seat for a year.

Typically the MO is selling off anyone who is aged, talented or will make big money for as many prospects as possible, no matter what level they play in.

This offseason, Beane acquired guys right on the edge between Triple-A and Major League Baseball. That has to be by design.

It doesn’t appear as if this offseason is a complete dismantling. Beane seems to have also confirmed it isn’t. At this point, however, it’d take an insane amount of Moneyball magic to jump the Los Angeles Angels for the AL West, or the Kansas City Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, etc. for a Wild Card spot.

The offseason plan should continue down the path already laid out.

Beane and company should fill any remaining holes, without committing too much money, with guys who can simply gain experience this year in hopes of proving themselves or turning the corner. Management should also continue to stockpile pieces that can either contribute sooner rather than later or be swapped in, say, the 2016 offseason as a part of a larger master plan.

Stick with the team, A’s fans.

It may feel like Beane just sold the house for a one-room apartment. He’s done that before, a few times. Instead, think of it like this: After doing everything he can to his mid-size home, he’s sold it at peak value and purchased a slightly smaller home, but it’s no condo.

Hopefully now he makes a handful of minor, cheap moves that turn out to be amazing upgrades—and then Beane adds a room here and a story there with the saved cash to finally have the biggest home on the block.

Sit out 2015 and try to recreate 2012-like magic—that’s my theory. But what do fans think?

I asked them on Twitter.

“JosephThomasD” agrees, thinking Beane will make typical Beane moves—moves with low risk and high reward.

That’s the Beane way after all.

“DillzPicklez” sounds like he’s on board with my assessment:

“Josh_Muller85” said the act of retooling is OK, but questioned the returns:

Most believe Beane‘s words about retooling over rebuilding and see light at the end of the relatively short tunnel, even if that tunnel passes through next season without a stop. The A’s will likely continue picking up typical Moneyball players who project low but produce high and perhaps surprise in 2015 but realistically hit it hard in ’16.

Let’s hope those returns are ready by then.

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