Today, I’m going to take a look at a few certainties that the Oakland A’s roster will face, as well as some question marks. I’ll also predict what I believe should be the projected 2015 rotation. Expect changes, losses and some key returns.
Sep 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcherJeff Samardzija
(29) delivers a pitch to the Texas Rangers during a baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Rangers won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
After not accepting a four-year, $70 million offer from the Boston Red Sox, Lester was traded to the A’s, since he was going to hit free agency at the end of 2014 any way. The A’s are in no way, shape or form, going to offer Lester anything remotely close to that and will just watch Lester head back to Boston, or to Detroit, or wherever.
Jason Hammel had some struggles after coming over from the Chicago Cubs as part of the Jeff Samardzija-Addison Russell trade, but finished with a decent 4.26 ERA when the dust had cleared. Hammel, a free agent, wasn’t expected to stick with Oakland beyond 2014, in my opinion, and we’ll see him get a nice pay day somewhere this off-season.
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Will Scott Kazmir be traded by 2015?
Halfway through the season, Kaz looked like a brilliant move (and me picking him up after the first week of fantasy baseball looked mighty fine as well, but that’s besides the point), but by the end of the season, fans were wondering where the hell the all-star pitcher they had seen prior to August had gone. In a recent post, I delved into that issue, so I won’t beat a dead horse.
Heading into the off-season for 26 of the 30 teams, many will want to bolster their pitching and the A’s will probably be looking to snatch up a few prospects to replace names like Russell and Billy McKinney. With one year remaining on Kaz’ two-year contract he signed prior to 2014, he would be a solid pickup for teams that don’t have the money for top-tier free agents like Lester, Max Sherzer, and such. I don’t see Kaz on Oakland’s opening day roster.
Does Jesse Chavez re-join the starting rotation?
With Chavez arbitration-eligible this off-season, he’ll more than likely sign a contract with Oakland for around $1 million. Chavez was the hero of the first half for the A’s, stepping up into the starter’s role due to season-ending injuries to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin. Chavez, however, showed signs of his arm wearing down as his ERA and starts were less and less appealing to A’s fans. With the way he wore down and with Drew Pomeranz shining the way he did, Chavez was dropped back into his relief role where he struggled. With Parker having had surgery in March, and Tommy John rehab generally taking around 12 months, Parker may or may not be ready to go by opening day, and with Griffin behind him, Chavez may see time on the opening staff to begin the season.
Where does the next “breakout” pitcher come from?
With Beane trading what some A’s fans saw as future fixtures in the rotation in Tommy Milone and Dan Straily, this question arises. Billy’s magic touch is going to be needed heading into 2015, with no top-pitching prospects ready for the major league lights, where will his next add come from? I assume Billy will be on the phones during winter, talking to agents and teams hoping to add an arm, if even just for the short-term, while he bides his time until Parker and Griffin return.
2015 Projected Rotation
2014 (CHC/OAK) stats: 7-13 W-L, 2.99 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 202 Ks
The Shark has one year left on his contract heading into 2015 and after giving up his top prospect for the righty, I don’t see Billy Beane losing him prior to opening day. A pitcher like Samardzija is who you want leading your staff and he’s the man you want to hand the game-ball to for game 1.
2014 stats: 14-10, 3.08, 1.19, 183
The “Bulldog”, is the future-current ace of this club. After being hurled into the down-the-stretch atmosphere in 2013 and holding more than his own, Gray was once again given the weight of the world on his shoulders as Parker and Griffin’s injuries, along with Bartolo Colon‘s exit, led to Gray being the number-one of the staff. Once again he held more than his own, especially in game 162, a must-win for Oakland, where Gray dealt a complete game shutout to send the team to the postseason. Gray as the #2 is something I look forward to heading into 2015, but him being the #1 for many years to come is something I’m ecstatic to hopefully see.
2014 stats: 5-4, 2.35, 1.12, 64
While splitting time between Oakland and Sacramento and reliever and starter, Pomeranz compiled quite a year for Oakland. Only pitching 69 innings in the majors and only making 10 starts in 20 appearances, Pom Pom doesn’t have much of a resume, however, he did show a lot of heart. Whether it be filling in on short notice or coming out of the bullpen in sticky situations, it didn’t matter. Pomeranz showed he can be a consistent starter for the club and I think it’d be a waste to not have him in the lineup at least early in the year.
2014 stats: 8-8, 3.45, 1.31, 136
Chavez, as I said above, looks to be the fourth or fifth man early on, only because Parker and Griffin will more than likely not be ready by opening day. Chavez wore down in the second half of the season, but looked very sharp the first few months. I don’t believe he’s a long-term option, but a bridge, and a secure one at that.
THE WILD CARD
I don’t know who it is or where it will come from, but I’m confident that Billy will add a starting pitcher before April. I don’t want to give up any of my sources, but I may have heard his name being Jo-ax Lest-cherzer. Or maybe that was only in my dreams. But realistically, I expect a splash trade or signing this off-season.
2013 stats: 12-8, 3.97, 1.22, 134
After missing all of 2014 due to an elbow injury which required Tommy John surgery, the second of his career, Parker looks primed for a comeback. He started throwing catch in August, according to Susan Slusser, and with a 12-month rehab the norm for Tommy John, as stated earlier, Parker could possibly be ready for opening day. But, I’ll just play it safe and say Parker will be back around mid-May. When he returns, I see him as the third starter.
2013 stats: 14-10, 3.83, 1.13, 171
Griffin, like Parker, had to miss all of 2014 after suffering an injury that required Tommy John. I have to admit, I missed Griffin’s sexy curve ball, and luscious locks, more than a little bit this season. When he comes back, I expect him to be our fourth or fifth starter. Slusser stated in an article in August that he was a couple weeks behind Parker, so expect him in late May, early June. Either way, when he returns he’ll be a nice boost to the rotation.