From Sports Illustrated:
What are all of Oakland’s dollar-conscious disciples to think of theA’s this year? What’s anyone to think? The franchise that made themodern blueprint for winning on a budget has spent the winter tradingaway what few marquee players it had and stocking up on unproven,untested, largely unknown kids. That is nobody’s formula for success.
In fact, if we didn’t know any better, we’d swear that the A’s are … are … rebuilding.
"We weren’t afraid of the word," says David Forst,the team’s assistant general manager. "There’s a negative connotationto it when it’s used by fans, who think they’re going to be watching ateam without any entertainment value. But if you look at it and what itleads to, it’s really exciting.
A likely story. But could it be that this rebuilding process, like just about everything the A’s do, will be less about what everyone else does, and more about thinking outside the box?
The new course of action was charted last October, shortly after theA’s had concluded their worst season since 1998. Beane sat down withForst and others and conducted a top-to-bottom organizational review,Oakland’s first in years. A new strength coach was brought in toexamine why players were having such a huge problem with injuries. TheA’s also hired five new area scouts, adding to a staff that had becomeone of the smallest in the league, and re-sectioned the country to getbetter coverage. They increased their scouting budget in Latin Americaand elsewhere internationally, and have earmarked more money forsigning bonuses.
In case you missed it: "earmarked more money for signing bonuses."
One of the big beefs with the A’s and their drafting philosophy has long been that they don’t pick the guy they want most with their early draft picks - they pick who they can easily afford.
Personally, I’m okay with that. The difference between a $3m 1st rounder and a $1.5m first rounder can often be nothing more than 1-2mph on a fastball, or one less injury in a senior year, or a school that’s in the national spotlight. I see nothing wrong with picks like Swisher, Blanton, Suzuki, Powell, Buck, Robnett, etc etc. For the most part, they do the job well.
But then there’s the Tim Lincecum’s [left] that, once in a while, pop up, destroy the local UBC Thunderbirds for a year or two, and make you think, "hmm… an extra mill in the draft signing budget would be a nice thing about now, so he could be wearing our colours and not steamrolling them…"
More scouts. More bonus money. No more ‘injury-prone’ gambles.
Looks like the C’s don’t just get new jerseys and logo this season… we’re also going to get a new level of talent on the playing field.