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2013 Fantasy outlooks: Oakland Athletics

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Three months into the 2012 season, the Athletics appeared to be on their way to a sixth straigth season without a winning record, as they stood at 37-42 heading into July. And why would anyone have expected the A's to be any better than that? Their lineup lacked recognizable stars, their rotation consisted of Bartolo Colon, Brandon McCarthy and a collection of unproven arms, and they had already gone through three closers by midsesaon.

2013 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

As it turned out, some members of that no-name lineup -- namely, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss -- produced like the middle-of-the-order hitters that they were. Colon and McCarthy both recorded ERAs below 3.50, rookies Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin were solid as well, and even journeyman Travis Blackley held his own over 15 starts. Grant Balfour settled into the closer's role over the second half, stabilizing the bullpen. It all added up to a 94-68 record, a first-place finish, and a five-game tussle in an American League Division Series that ultimately went in favor of the Tigers.

McCarthy, shortstop Stephen Drew and designated hitter Jonny Gomes departed via free agency, and second baseman/shortstop Cliff Pennington and part-time first baseman Chris Carter were dealt away, but by and large, the 2012 squad has remained intact. Cespedes, Reddick and Moss will comprise the meat of the order once again, while John Jaso was acquired from the Mariners to take over the catching duties shared by Derek Norris, George Kottaras and Kurt Suzuki a year ago. Hiroyuki Nakajima was brought in from the Seibu Lions of the Japanese Pacific League to replace Drew, though there will be a competition to determine who his double play partner will be. Scott Sizemore, who missed last season with a torn ACL, Jemile Weeks and rookie Grant Green are the leading candidates to open the 2013 season at second base. Chris Young and Jed Lowrie, both acquired via trade this offseason,.will give the A's some bench depth and the luxury of sitting their regulars with more frequency.

Brett Anderson, who came back from Tommy John surgery late last season, is the likely opening day starter, and Parker, Milone and Griffin are expected to line up behind him in the rotation. Colon won't be on the roster for opening day, as he has five games remaining on a 50-game suspension for a positive test for testosterone, but he should join the rotation soon after. Balfour will return to close out games for the A's, while Ryan Cook will fill the setup role that he held for most of last season.

2013 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Coco Crisp CF
2. John Jaso C
3. Yoenis Cespedes LF
4. Brandon Moss 1B
5. Seth Smith DH
6. Josh Reddick RF
7. Josh Donaldson 3B
8. Scott Sizemore 2B
9. Hiroyuki Nakajima SS
Bench Chris Young OF
Bench Jed Lowrie SS

While Moss and Blackley fit the "misfit toys" mold of the Moneyball-era teams, much of the A's current roster is comprised of young talent that could only get better. In order to contend, they will need Reddick, Parker, Milone and Griffin to at least match last season's level of performance, and hope that Anderson and Cespedes can stay healthy. The team may enter the coming season with plenty of question marks, but for the first time in years, they will offer Fantasy owners a wide array of tempting options to consider on Draft Day.

Sleeper ... Josh Reddick, outfield

As a minor leaguer, Reddick was no slouch when it came to piling up extra-base hits, and in his fourth go-round in the majors last season, he finally showed off his power. There's no reason why Reddick can't have another 30-homer season in 2013, and he should be able to improve on his .242 batting average from a year ago. Reddick was a decent contact hitter in the minors, and he could easily cut back on his strikeouts. He may not hit much higher than .260, but that would still be enough to boost his run and RBI totals. Though you probably won't need to draft Reddick among the top 40 outfielders, he should give his owners that level of production.

Bust ... Jarrod Parker, starting pitcher

With a solid 3.47 ERA and 13-8 record, Parker turned in a rookie season that matched the hype he earned as a prospect. Finishing the year as a top 50 starting pitcher in Fantasy, owners may be tempted to view him as such again for 2013. While Parker's Fantasy stats were better than average, his skill indicators, such as strikeout, walk and ground ball rates, were the definition of average. Only six percent of Parker's flyballs left the yard, and even thoughg he gets the benefit of pitching home games at O.co Coliseum, that rate should be at least a couple of percentage points higher this year. Look for Parker's ERA and WHIP to rise high enough to make him a risky pick any earlier than in the late rounds in standard mixed league drafts.

Late-round flyer ... John Jaso, catcher

2013 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Brett Anderson LHP
2. Jarrod Parker RHP
3. Tommy Milone LHP
4. A.J. Griffin RHP
5. Dan Straily RHP
ALT Bartolo Colon RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Grant Balfour RHP
2. Ryan Cook RHP
3. Sean Doolittle LHP
4. Jordan Norberto LHP
5. Chris Resop RHP

January's three-team swap involving the A's, Nationals and Mariners got attention mainly because of Seattle's acquisition of Michael Morse, but Oakland made an impact move of its own. In getting John Jaso from the Mariners, the club added an experienced catcher, which allows them to put young Derek Norris in a backup role. Unlike Norris, Jaso isn't known for his power, but he hit 10 home runs in just 294 at-bats last season. Having put up some decent power numbers at some points during his minor league career, there is reason to think that Jaso could sustain his newfound home run prowess. He has always exercised good plate discipline, so owners should expect a decent batting average and very good on-base percentage. He is a must-draft in two-catcher leagues, and as someone who should last until the late rounds of standard mixed league drafts, Jaso could turn a nice profit for the owners who draft him.

Prospects Report

Grant Green and Dan Straily have the best chance to make an impact in the majors in 2013, but both will enter spring training having to compete for a starting role. Green could be the A's regular second baseman, but he will have to topple the more established Sizemore and Weeks first. Straily has an even tougher road to make Oakland's rotation, though he could be a short-term fill-in for Colon in early April ... 2012 first-round pick Addison Russell will be in major-league camp this spring, but the 19-year-old will have time to develop in the minors while Nakajima holds down the starting shortstop job. He's a top target in long-term keeper leagues ... Outfielder Michael Choice's season ended prematurely due to a broken hand, but the on-base and power threat could arrive in the majors within a year ... Pitching prospect Sonny Gray didn't wow owners last season, but he was still plenty good at inducing grounders. He has shown enough skill to remain on the radar of owners in long-term keeper leagues.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Derek Norris dealing with shoulder issue
by Al Melchior | Data Analyst
(12:23 pm ET) CSNBayArea.com reports that Athletics catcher Derek Norris received a cortisone shot in his shoulder on Sunday. He had been experiencing discomfort stemming from contact at a play at the plate during Saturday's game against the Phillies.

Norris recovered well enough to serve as the A's designated hitter on Monday against the Angels, though he was removed for a pinch hitter in the fourth inning.


Orioles' ALDS rotation taking shape
by Al Melchior | Data Analyst
(12:11 pm ET) Orioles manager Buck Showalter told the Baltimore Sun he will use four starting pitchers for the American League Divisional Series. Chris Tillman is on course to be the team's starter for Game 1 on Oct. 2, and Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen are the likely starters for Games 2 and 3, though their order has yet to be determined.

Should the series advance to a Game 4, Bud Norris would be the leading candidate to make that start.


Blue Jays planning for bullpen day on Thursday
by Al Melchior | Data Analyst
(11:33 am ET) With Marcus Stroman serving a five-game suspension and unable to take his usual turn in the Blue Jays' rotation, manager John Gibbons told the Toronto Sun he plans to use a committee of relievers to replace the 23-year-old rookie.

Gibbons has not yet determined who will start Thursday's game against the Mariners, but Todd Redmond, Daniel Norris and Sean Nolin are all candidates to appear in some role. 


Michael Wacha not working with his best changeup
by Al Melchior | Data Analyst
(11:25 am ET) Michael Wacha recovered well enough from Saturday's start against the Reds to get another turn in the rotation, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that he will face the Diamondbacks this weekend.

However, in the three starts Wacha has made since returning from time missed due to a stress fracture in his right shoulder, he has not had his usual success in employing his changeup. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny acknowledged that Wacha is having to rely on his other offerings, telling the Post-Dispatch, "For him to be able to try to pitch without what is normally his No. 1 weapon and hold a team down like he did takes some adjustment. He’s getting better."

According to BrooksBaseball.net, Wacha got swings-and-misses on 16.9 percent of his changeups in 15 starts prior to his disabled list stint. In the three starts since, he has induced only one whiff out of 21 changeups (4.8 percent).


Santiago Casilla gets the win in two-inning outing
by Al Melchior | Data Analyst
(10:40 am ET) Giants manager Bruce Bochy called upon Santiago Casilla in Monday's extra-inning affair against the Dodgers, and he held the opponent scoreless for the 11th and 12th innings. That kept the Giants alive, making their three-run 13th inning and 5-2 victory possible.

Casilla was credited with the win, as he faced the minimum six batters. Yasiel Puig reached base on a Brandon Crawford throwing error, and Darwin Barney got on after Casilla hit him, but double play balls erased both batters.

Now 3-3 on the season, Casilla lowered his ERA to 1.76.


Jake Peavy settles for no-decision
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:25 am ET) Giants pitcher Jake Peavy wasn't a factor into the decision Monday night in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. He allowed two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out four over seven innings of work.

Over his last six starts covering 41 innings, Peavy has allowed only five earned runs. He owns a 3.78 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP over 31 starts (197 2/3 innings). His final start of the regular season will come at home Saturday against San Diego.


Dan Haren fans seven in no-deicison
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:25 am ET) Dodgers pitcher Dan Haren struck out seven but wasn't a factor into the decision Monday night at home against the Giants. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- on one hit and no walks over seven innings of work. Of his 100 pitches, 65 were strikes.

Over his last five starts covering 31 innings, Haren has allowed seven earned runs. He owns a 4.03 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP over 31 starts (181 innings). His final start of the regular season will come Saturday at home against Colorado.


C.J. Wilson gets the quick hook vs. Oakland
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:25 am ET) Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson was yanked in the opening frame after a brief but abysmal outing Monday night against the A's, dropping to 13-10 on the year. He was shelled for six runs -- four earned -- on two hits and four walks over two-thirds of an inning.

Wilson owns a 4.61 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP over 30 starts (169 2/3 innings). He will try to end the regular season on a positive note on Sunday in Seattle.


Jeff Samardzija twirls a gem in win over Angels
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:25 am ET) Athletics pitcher Jeff Samardzija turned in a gem Monday night at home against the Angels, improving to 7-12 on the year. He allowed one unearned run on five hits and no walks while striking out three over seven innings of an 8-4 victory.

Samardzija has not permitted a run over his last two starts (15 innings). He owns a 2.88 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP over 32 starts (212 2/3 innings). His final start of the regular season will come Saturday at Texas.


Tyler Matzek pegged with tough-luck loss
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:07 am ET) Rockies pitcher Tyler Matzek was pegged with a tough-luck loss Monday night in San Diego, dropping to 6-11 on the year. He allowed one run on four hits and three walks while striking out eight over six innings of work.

Over his last five starts covering 33 2/3 innings, Matzek has allowed five earned runs. His season comes to an end with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP over 117 2/3 innings of work. He struck out 91 and walked 44 over that span.


 
 
 
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