The A’s don’t need a complete tear-down to be able to rebuild

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Jul 22, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Ryon Healy (48) celebrates after a walk-off win on hit by Oakland Athletics left fielder Coco Crisp (not shown) against the Tampa Bay Rays in the thirteen inning at O.co Coliseum. Oakland won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 22, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Ryon Healy (48) celebrates after a walk-off win on hit by Oakland Athletics left fielder Coco Crisp (not shown) against the Tampa Bay Rays in the thirteen inning at O.co Coliseum. Oakland won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /
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On Saturday CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa wrote a story on the Athletics. It’s one that most of you reading this will likely agree with.

I, however, do not. Well, not with all of it anyway.

Axisa wrote that the Oakland Athletics,

"“refuse to rebuild and their youngsters are paying the price.”"

This assertion may be somewhat true during the upcoming 2017 season but beyond 2017, it appears they may actually be doing what is best for their young talent.

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It’s hard not to agree that the signing of Trevor Plouffe to be the team’s everyday third baseman may not have been the best idea as he adds to what is an already overcrowded infield.

The means he will end up delegating 25-year-old Ryon Healy, who hit .305/.337/.524 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 72 games as the Athletics’ everyday third baseman in 2016, to a platoon role with Yonder Alonso at first base and the designated hitter position.

Axisa argues that with the signings of veteran free agents Plouffe, Rajai Davis, Santiago Casilla and Matt Joyce each to short term, one-to-two-year deals, the A’s will be holding back and displacing their up-and-coming talent.

While at first glance it might appear that way, that really doesn’t seem to be the case.

The A’s have been adamant about not rushing their young stars to the big leagues (if you have watched the Seattle Mariners in recent years then you have seen problems that can stem from doing so).

Oakland Athletics
Franklin Barreto. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports. /

Franklin Barreto, still only 20 years old, is already at the Triple-A level. He’s likely to be the team’s mainstay at second base in future seasons.

Third baseman and top prospect Matt Chapman, who was recently placed on MLBPipeline’s all-defense team at the hot corner, needs another year in Triple-A.

Despite being excellent both offensively and defensively, Chapman missed a good portion of the 2015 season with various injuries and could use a some more at-bats at the minor league level.

He’s still got a bit of swing and miss in his game, but still shows the ability to hit for some major power as well as having the capacity to use the entire field.

Eventually, Chapman will be taking over for Healy (or Plouffe) at third eventually, which would have pushed Healy to play at first, his natural position, anyway.

Healy played first in high school and college. So why not ease him back into playing first while still making sure he gets plenty of at-bats?

There is also the issue of Plouffe’s health. After seven seasons with the Minnesota Twins, he was non-tendered in December due to the injuries he had suffered during the season that ranged from a broken rib to an oblique strain that eventually ended his season early.

Healy will still be in the rotation at third as well. A’s GM David Forst told the media last week,

"“It’s easy to envision a scenario where (Plouffe) gets the bulk of time at third base and we still have 500 plate appearances for other guys like Ryon. We have every intention of getting at-bats for Ryon. Trevor is not gonna be out there 162 times, we know that. Ryon is going to have to continue to be ready at third base.”"

Looking past the Healy, Chapman, Plouffe scenario; Axisa questions the A’s decision to sign Davis to play in centerfield. He’s essentially taking the spot of Brett Eibner, who was designated for assignment when the team signed Casilla.

While Eibner is just 28 and did hit .289/.394/.528 with 12 homers in 54 Triple-A games, he left something to be desired in the outfield after he was traded from the Kansas City Royals to the A’s for Billy Burns.

Oakland Athletics
Sep 16, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics right fielder Brett Eibner (39) rounds the bases after he hits a three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Rangers defeat the A’s 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Eibner hit .192/.266/.353 over 70 games combined between the Royals and the A’s with six home runs and 22 RBI. Perhaps, it crossed the A’s mind that they will have other in-house options soon and that perhaps Eibner may need more time in the minor leagues.

Regardless, it doesn’t appear that the 28-year-old is in the team’s long-term plans with kids much younger on their way to the majors within the next couple of seasons.

WIth a new stadium seemingly to be finally on the horizon, according to team president Dave Kaval who recently noted that a stadium site may be announced prior to this year’s spring training.

It appears to some that perhaps the A’s are not rushing their prospects in order to allow them time to grow so that when the new stadium is ready, they will be ready too, ready to win.

Axisa writes that,

"“Sometimes a rebuild is necessary and the A’s are at that point.”"

Looking at the team from a different perspective that does not appear to be the case. A complete teardown of the mediocre team the A’s have now would be an even bigger disaster than Ryon Healy having to work at playing multiple roles for a single season.

More from White Cleat Beat

The A’s are in the process of rebuilding the team, and a stadium, and they are doing so the same way they always do, their own way.

The A’s under Billy Beane and David Forst have always been everything but conventional and yet they have had mostly success since Beane took over as general manager prior to the 1998 season.

The baseball world may have wait a year or two to see the results of their unconventional semi-rebuild but it just might work.

The signing of veteran free agents isn’t holding the younger players back, it’s giving them time to grow.

By giving time for the players to develop, they end up with better players while also buying time to build them a stadium worth playing in, one worth winning in.

Not all the fans nor the media may understand or see the bigger picture just yet but it’s likely they will in the not-too far future.

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