A’s In 2012: Replacing Runs

(Photo Credit: David Fung, http://FUNGraphs.tumblr.com)

With the A’s set to lose a few players to free agency, GM Billy Beane and the rest of his front office brain trust have their work cut out for them this winter. Oakland is currently waiting for a decision regarding their push for a new stadium in San Jose, so the team is likely to stay away from spending tons of money in free agency to replace their loses.

It’s expected the A’s will lose outfielders Josh Willingham, David DeJesus, and Coco Crisp. Furthermore, while it seemed like a possibility given the fact that the A’s open the 2012 season in Japan, the idea of bringing DH Hideki Matsui back next year has cooled off a bit.

The A’s didn’t get much production from DeJesus or Matsui this year, but losing a guy like Willingham, who posted career highs in home runs and RBIs, is going to be a tough loss for Oakland.

According to the most recent rumors, Oakland will not pursue Willingham this offseason after offering him arbitration last week. The A’s might try to retain Crisp, though, according to a recent article by Ken Rosenthal.

Let’s just say, though, for the sake of this article that Oakland does in fact, lose all of these players mentioned above. While everyone not named Willingham offered Oakland a whole lot of inconsistency, losing four starting players isn’t ideal.

It’s been said before here on this site many times that the Athletics have options waiting in the minor leagues, so replacing a guy like DeJesus isn’t exactly impossible. The outfield figures to include a completely different set of names next year, with Ryan Sweeney, Michael Taylor, and possibly Jai Miller getting a look in 2012.

Chris Carter, once figured to be Oakland’s answer at first base, is more suited to assume the team’s designated-hitter role.

Matsui’s overall numbers were down this year, with the veteran slugger posting a 61 wRC (Weighted Runs Created) this season after posting a 80 wRC in ’10 and a 85 wRC in ’09. Still, Oakland will need to find someone to replace Matsui if the rumors are true about the A’s declining interest in bringing back Matsui next year.

David Fung of FUNGraphs, takes an in-depth look at some of the choices Oakland has in trying to replace some of talent they’re expected to lose this winter.

In a brilliantly designed graph, David considers a variety of combinations of free agents and young prospects that could ultimately help ease the pain of losing four starting players this winter.

Beane & Co. should stay the course and continue with their so-called “youth movement,” and finally give some of their young talent a chance on the big league stage. Given the fact that they’re not expected to compete next year, 2012 should be the year of young talent taking over in Oakland.

You can follow me on twitter @oaklandace75 and like Swingin’ A’s on Facebook. Also, be sure to follow David Fung, provider of the fantastic graphic @cobradave and take a look at his site, FUNGraphs