The Oakland Athletics are the Sum of Unlikely Parts


Sep 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick (16) celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a home run during the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Recently my car needed its engine replaced. There was no fix for the problem the car was suffering from. Only replacing the engine could fix it. And even then several parts would need to be replaced to support the new engine.

I had the option of spending thousands of dollars on a brand new engine and other parts from the dealership. I also could have spent a fraction of the price by shopping around auto parts stores, eBay, or a junk yard.

I could have gone either way and still would have had a working engine. One would have been shiny, new, and expensive. The other would have been a collection of cost-effective parts working together to make the car go.

And better yet, if I go the less expensive route I have resources left over to fix my brakes, get new windshield wipers, and replace my timing belt.

Those repairs will make my car run well now, while also giving it what it needs to still run next year, and the year after .

Get where I’m going with this?

More from Oakland A's News

I don’t want to flood you with yet another “Billy Beane is great” column. What I want to do is share that his plan for the Oakland Athletics is simple.

In his SweetSpot blog, ESPN senior writer David Schoenfield expresses Oakland’s intentions in the clearest way possible,

"“Beane is also hoping to acquire quality via quantity. He doesn’t have to hit on each of Bassitt, Graveman and Nolin. If one turns into a solid rotation starter, that’s a plus; maybe he gets lucky and two of them develop. Jarrod parker and A.J. Griffin, coming off Tommy John surgeries, may also be able to contribute at some point. Drew Pomeranz may thrive with a full season in the rotation. They can platoon at catcher/first base/DH/left field to provide a sum greater than the individual parts.”"

If you want to read the rest of Schoenfield’s analysis of Beane’s moves, do so here.

But what he says captures the essence of what is happening in Oakland.

Yes, Brandon Moss is a great guy, and was a terrific home run hitter in two-plus years in Oakland. But he was a part of the team that had a function, and did it well. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other parts on the market who have the same skill and can do it as well, or almost close to it.

That is where Ike Davis, Billy Butler, and newly acquired Mark Canha come in.

Yes, Josh Donaldson was an all-star, but if Brett Lawrie stays healthy, which is a big if, he will nearly replicate Donaldson’s presence both in the lineup and at third base. Marcus Semien is projected to nearly double what Jed Lowrie contributed last season at shortstop.

Add up the value of Semien and Lawrie’s projection for 2015 and you come close to Donaldson and Lowrie from 2014. Factor in we are bound to get more second base and the gap is almost completely closed.

“They can platoon at catcher/first base/DH/left field to provide a sum greater than the individual parts”. -David Schoenfield, ESPN

Semien, Chris Bassitt, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin, Davis, Canha, and Joe Wendle might look like a just collection of junkyard parts, but piece them all together and they create a functioning, competitive, and cost-effective roster.

The other guys returning from last year’s team may continue to improve. Derek Norris, Scott Kazmir, and Sean Doolittle were all-stars. Josh Reddick had a terrific second half. Coco Crisp, Craig Gentry, and Sam Fuld are all very good defensive outfielders who can fly around the bases.

This team will be fun to watch. And if all of the parts work the way they should, we might be looking at the next great Oakland Athletics team.