AL West Hot Stove Preview (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday October 31, 2007 11:00AM; Updated: Wednesday October 31, 2007 11:00AM
What They Should Do: Strong Sell. Sorry, but there's not enough here to reach the playoffs in a league where it could require 95 wins to do so. The best reasonable-case scenario is that two out of the three of the Harden/Chavez/Crosby group comes back strong, two out of three from the Haren/Blanton/Cust group sustain their 2007 breakouts, and two out of three of Barton/Buck/Suzuki develop faster than expected. All that happens, plus some Billy Beane mojo, and I still think you're looking at 87, 88 wins, tops. All that happens and you've signed Barry Bonds and well -- maybe. But realistically, the A's 79-83 Pythagorean record is a pretty fair representation of their true talent level, and there are just as many scenarios where things get a little ugly.
The A's have quite a few pitchers who could fetch a ton in trade: Harden, Blanton, and maybe even Dan Haren for the right offer; second baseman Mark Ellis has value as well. They also have a lack of superstar-caliber prospects in the system. If the 2010 versions of Barton, Buck and Suzuki are the third-, fifth-, and seventh-best players on your team, you're probably a playoff club, but not if they're one-two-three. So I blow things completely up, bear the consequences of a 100-loss season, and turn in my Get Out of Jail Free card when Crisco Field opens in 2011, or perhaps the year before.
What They Will Do: Weak Sell. A lot of this is going to depend on whether Billy Beane has the energy in him to do another reboot.
What They Should Do: Hold. It's a lame answer, but as presently configured the Rangers are a lame team. Although they underperformed their Pythagorean record, they also outscored their equivalent runs total by 50, which means that they actually overperformed their third-order wins total. Much of that was with players like Mark Teixeira and Kenny Lofton in the lineup, guys who won't be around next year. The reason I term this a "hold" rather than a sell is because:
What They Will Do: Strong Buy. Evan Grant actually addressed this exact question in an article a couple of weeks ago. The Rangers will adopt an all-or-nothing approach, he says, either targeting premium free agents or letting things play out organically, but not just signing players to fill holes. That's certainly the right line of thinking (or rhetoric); a big buy is much superior to a small buy, although probably inferior to a hold. I'm guessing that the Rangers do get past that tipping point and go the big-buy route. For one thing, their needs are very well aligned to this market, which is heavy on outfield talent. For another, if Daniels is playing for 2011, he might not be around to see it. For a third, Tom Hicks may believe that the brand needs a kick-start, as the Rangers lack marketable players. The truth is that a big buy wouldn't be too bad so long as the currency is cash rather than prospects. It's only Mr. Hicks' money, after all, but it's still unlikely to get the Rangers into the playoffs.
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