|The Magic Beane: A's look to ride young arms, new offense in 2010||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on February 22, 2010
Billy Beane thinks the Athletics can compete in 2010.Â It seems unlikely but Beane has been a master of unlikely when it comes to building baseball teams.Â He's done it by changing paradigms and looking at the game in new ways year after year.Â But he's always had a cornerstone approach when it came to baseball.
A lot of that pressure will fall on the arms of high profile sophomores Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Vin Mazzaro, but there are plenty of other notable young hurlers including Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Braden, Joey Devine, Brad Zeigler, Brad Kilby, Michael Wuertz, Andrew Bailey and Josh Outman who'll play a part in the supporting Beane's pitching dream.
And they'll have to be good, really good, if the A's hope to contend this year.Â That's because the offense is veering in a new direction, or perhaps redefining an old one.Â When Michael Lewis published Moneyball back in 2003, it was thought that Beane gave up too many of his secrets, including his obsession with on-base percentage.
That has been a key to the A's success during Beane's tenure, but in none of his previous playoff seasons has he fielded an offense with such a paucity of power.Â On paper at least the only 20 home run threat the Oakland nine possesses is strikeout master Jack Cust.Â That will force the Athletics to play an unfamiliar game - true small ball, relying not just on base hits and walks, but on speed and stolen bases, a percentage play Beane has never been enamored with, in order to manufacture runs.
That's hardly a shift in paradigm in the overall baseball sense, but it is for this organization.Â That's going to make a playoff run this year even more of a reach.
Yet as improbable as it is on paper, the Oakland Athletics can't be discounted even if the arms of Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer fall off and dump all the pressure on the young staff.Â The A's and Billy Beane have had a way of surprising us for more than a decade.