Strange A's in Oakland (cont.)
Posted: Monday January 21, 2008 1:11PM; Updated: Monday January 21, 2008 3:38PM
Forst says that the criticism has been a little unfair, but he's willing to accept it. "I don't think our scouting department would hide from that. Everyone here takes responsibility for that," he says. "But there's so much uncertainty when you sign players. There is a certain amount of luck involved."
Still, the overhaul is exactly what Oakland needed. The 2007 A's were beset by injuries to key players such as third baseman Eric Chavez, shortstop Bobby Crosby, Kotsay, and pitchers Rich Harden and Justin Duchscherer. They also had disappointing years from many of their counted-upon regulars, and few of their younger players -- with the possible exception of outfielder Travis Buck -- were there to make up for it.
For all the movement this offseason, change is not unusual for the A's. After a 91-win season in 2004, Beane traded away two of his best starters, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, in two separate moves designed partially to build up his minor league system. Two years later, in '06, the A's won the American League West.
"This is, admittedly," Forst says, "a bigger step back."
Not only will the A's be painfully inexperienced at the big-league level in '08, they may be just plain hurting again, too. Many of the experienced players that remain -- including Chavez, Harden, Duchscherer and pitcher Chad Gaudin -- are trying to rebound from some kind of offseason surgery.
Still, over the past decade, the A's have regularly found a way. And they might yet this year, despite a payroll that will be somewhere between $75-80 million, placing it in the league's lower half. Owner Lew Wolff recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that he actually expects the A's to be better in 2008 because of Beane's "brilliant" offseason moves.
In a lot of ways, it is because of that "brilliance" that the A's have become a victim of expectations that are normally associated with bigger-spending teams.
"I wouldn't use the word 'victim,'" says Forst. "I think it's flattering that we have those expectations."
Maybe now it's flattering. Come the regular season, though, the rebuilding A's might be wishing that everybody would stop expecting so much of them.
Five Notable Rebuilders
GIANTS -- With Barry Bonds gone, they have a lot of young pitching -- Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, Tim Lincecum -- and little else.
TWINS -- More than half of their lineup will be new for '08, and if they sell off Johan Santana and/or Joe Nathan, things could get ugly.
CARDINALS -- Remaining from the starters on the '06 World Series winners are 1B Albert Pujols, C Yadier Molina and ... well, that's pretty much it.
ASTROS -- New blood at closer (Jose Valverde) and up the middle at catcher (J.R. Towles), shortstop (Miguel Tejada), second (Kaz Matsui) and center (Michael Bourn).
ORIOLES -- Tejada's gone, Brain Roberts may be next, Erik Bedard's on the block ... this one was a long time coming.
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