A’s GM Billy Beane went into the 2012/2013 offseason with a sense of positivity and optimism after how the team finished last season eventually culminating in a postseason berth as AL West champions. This run of success no doubt changed Beane’s offseason plans. Instead of trading away players for prospects the A’s traded prospects for players and made some free agent signings. These transactions were all made with the idea of depth in mind. Players like Jed Lowrie, Nate Freiman, and Chris Young were added while Bartolo Colon was resigned. All these moves were made to add quality depth where the A’s have been diminished due to injuries in recent years. With that in mind let’s take a look at how the addition of these players have helped play a role in the teams success and how valuable the depth added in the offseason has been.
Jul 12, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics shortstop Jed Lowrie (8) walks through a tunnel of players after hitting a solo home run against the Boston Red Sox during the sixth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Arguably the most important acquisition of the offseason was the trade that brought Jed Lowrie over from the Houston Astros. Lowrie was considered an offensive shortstop who was constantly injured. A’s Manager Bob Melvin contacted Lowrie and explained that his role was considered “super-utility” and that he would be in the lineup regularly but at a different position each day for the most part. However, at the end of spring training Hiroyuki Nakajima, considered to be the A’s opening day shortstop, was injured and Lowrie was instantly thrust into the shortstop role platooning with Adam Rosales. Now that Rosales has been outrighted off the 40 man roster the everyday shortstop role is now Lowrie’s to keep. His numbers this season have been a saving grace for the A’s. Lowrie is hitting .301 to along with a .369 OBP.
The resigning of Bartolo Colon to a one year deal made little noise in the offseason but it is now looking like the best signing of the offseason for any Major League team. Colon has been the Ace of the staff this season including being selected to the All Star team. With Brett Anderson being injured and the rest of the pitching staff being inconsistent early on Colon’s success has kept the A’s in first place form always being a stop gap for slumps. His success at 40 years old has been incredible. His numbers stand alone this season: 12-3 with a 2.69 ERA and only 15 walks in 120 IP.
Nate Freiman was another under the radar signing that has paid big dividends. Even though he doesn’t play much in part because he platoons with Brandon Moss his offense against left handed pitching has generated some clutch hits and wins. Strictly against left handed pitching (since he rarely faces right handed pitching) his numbers are terrific: .314 AVG, .362 OBP, 2 HR, 15 RBI. Pretty good for what could be considered a bench player and even better for a player who had never played above the Double A minor league level.
Finally, there was the acquisition of Chris Young from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He may have made some costly errors and his average may be low but with the constant injury concerns of the starting outfielders Young’s presence is something the A’s missed last season. His clutching hitting has led to some big time wins this season. His numbers: .189 AVG, .271 OBP, 8 HR, 28 RBI. Again, really good numbers for someone who does not play regularly.
These players have all contributed to the A’s success this season and their continued spot at the top of the AL West. If they continue to play well (or in Young’s case even better) they will only continue to make their run at another Al West title and another postseason berth. The depth added in the offseason has paid off big for this A’s team.