A's 2013 roster breakdown: Starting pitchers

951107.jpg

A's 2013 roster breakdown: Starting pitchers

Editor's note: This is the first installment of the Oakland A's position-by-position offseason breakdown, teeing up the team's options for the 2013 season.Let's get it started. The A's rotation was consistently one of the best in baseball in 2012. It's hard to believe they finished third in the American League with a 3.80 ERA after losing so many key components to the starting staff both prior to and during the season. They were able to succeed because of strong performances by rookie pitchers. The A's set a major league record with 53 rookie wins.The A's rotation is set up beautifully for 2013. Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone tied for an Oakland-record 13 wins by a starter. A.J. Griffin also enjoyed rookie success becoming the first Oakland starter to begin his career 6-0. These pitchers fared very well in 2012 and should only get better with experience."The young pitchers were great, but because they are so young there's room for improvement," A's general manager Billy Beane said at the conclusion of the season. "We are going to cryogenically freeze all of our pitchers and tell them not to raise their arms above their hips."Milone and Parker also performed exceedingly well under big-game pressure. The late September and October experience will go a long way in their development."Look at what Jarrod Parker did the last few starts of the season and what he had to do to get us here, he and Tommy Milone both," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They were rookies to start the year and at the end of the year they were looking like accomplished veterans who really had to take on a load with the injuries we had to the veteran pieces in the rotation."A full season out of Brett Anderson would give the A's one of the deepest rotations in baseball. He returned following 14 months of rehabilitation after Tommy John surgery to go 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 2012. He suffered a right oblique strain late in the season, but returned to pitch in the American League Division Series. He is the most talented pitcher on the roster and should finally be fully healthy next season.
While the A's have enough depth on their roster to form a starting rotation, they would be wise to invest in another veteran arm to provide leadership and valuable innings. They made a step in that direction by bringing back Bartolo Colon. The A's would be wise to re-sign Brandon McCarthy as well. When on the mound McCarthy was extremely effective, and behind the scenes he helped the young pitchers prepare themselves. The right-handed pitcher had a career-best 3.24 ERA in 2012, and 1.95 walks per nine innings, which ranked him eighth among AL pitchers with 100 or more innings.RELATED: A's sign Colon to one-year deal
McCarthy missed time with right shoulder fatigue and missed the final month of the season after a horrifying incident in which he was struck in the head by a line drive and needed emergency brain surgery. He has been cleared to resume throwing and he should be ready to take the mound in time for opening day 2013. McCarthy, a free agent, might be affordable for the A's to sign based on some of the questions about his health. He has been drawing interest from several teams. Finding a way to bring back McCarthy would be a huge boost for the A's chances of defending their AL West crown.RELATED: McCarthy to begin throwing in December
Here in 2013:Brett Anderson: 6 GS, 4-2, 35 IP, 257 KBB, 2.57 ERA, 1.03 WHIP
Jarrod Parker: 29 GS, 13-8, 181.1 IP, 14064 KBB, 3.47 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Tommy Milone: 31 GS, 13-10, 190.0 IP, 13726 KBB, 3.74 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
A.J. Griffin: 15 GS, 7-1, 82.1 IP, 6419 KBB, 3.06 ERA, 1.13 WHIP
Dan Straily: 7 GS, 2-1, 39.1 IP, 3216 KBB, 3.89 ERA, 1.32 WHIP
Bartolo Colon: 24 GS, 10-9, 152.1 IP, 9123 KBB, 3.43 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
Travis Blackley: 15 GS, 6-4, 102.2 IP, 6930 KBB, 3.86 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
On the Farm:Brad Peacock (AAA)
Sonny Gray (AAA)
A.J. Cole (A)
James Simmons (AAA)
Shawn Haviland (AA)
Ian Krol (AA)
Free Agents:Brandon McCarthy
Dallas Braden
Biggest Question:Can the A's young arms actually improve on their record setting 2012 campaign?Analyst's Take -- Greg Cadaret:"I think the big key for them is if they can get Brandon McCarthy back.""I don't expect any falloff at all between Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker. I expect them to continue to improve. I don't think you are going to see huge strides forward, but they already pitched like they have experience that's what's so phenomenal about them. I do expect Griffin and Straily to get better."Best Available (and possibly affordable):Joe Blanton, 32
Ryan Dempster, 36
Dan Haren, 32
Rich Harden, 31
Kyle Lohse, 34
Joe Saunders, 32
Chris Young, 34
Roy Oswalt, 35
Randy Wolf, 36

A's spring training Day 37: Triggs strengthens his bid for rotation spot

A's spring training Day 37: Triggs strengthens his bid for rotation spot

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Last year Andrew Triggs was one of an assembly line of starting pitchers the A’s ran out to the mound after injuries took their toll.

This spring, Triggs looks ready to assume a more instrumental role. On Wednesday, he stepped up with his best effort of the spring in Oakland’s 5-3 victory over the White Sox at Camelback Ranch.

He fared well against a Chicago lineup saturated with left-handed hitters. He commanded his fastball. His curve had bite to it. And with his cutter lacking, Triggs kept hitters off-balance with his changeup and threw five innings of three-hit ball. He gave up two runs, struck out four and didn’t issue a walk.

In short, it was everything manager Bob Melvin needed to see as he evaluates whether this late-blooming right-hander is ready for the starting rotation.

“This was his best outing so far,” Melvin said. “His best command, sharpest breaking ball. He had good movement on his fastball. Once you’re getting out there to 75-80 pitches, you’ve got a chance to not only evaluate performance, there’s endurance involved. Everything.”

Triggs, 28, had surrendered six runs in just 3 2/3 innings his last time out against Cleveland. He was much more efficient Wednesday.

“I felt like I had a pretty good feel for most everything in the arsenal,” he said.

Most of Triggs’ major league work last season, in his first taste of the bigs, came in relief. If he’s to pitch every fifth day in 2017, he needs to show he can retire lefties consistently, and remain effective two and three times through a batting order.

Catcher Stephen Vogt believes Triggs has the repertoire to do that.

“The nice part about a four-pitch mix is very rarely are you gonna have all four on any given night. So if two go away, you've got two more to back it up,” Vogt said. “Today his cutter, usually one of his better pitches, wasn’t that great. He needed to rely more on the changeup and he did.

“Then he gets those swings and misses with the big breaking ball. It’s fun to make the crowd kind of ‘woo.’ It’s always a good sign.”

STOCK RISING: Another pitcher who helped his cause Wednesday was Frankie Montas, who struck out four over two scoreless innings to seal the victory.

“He continues to do what he continues to do,” Melvin said. “He’s throwing more and more breaking balls too.”

In Montas’ four outings, he’s allowed just one earned run over eight innings for a 1.13 ERA. He’s struck out nine and walked one. In light of Melvin saying his bullpen could use a reliever that can handle multiple innings, Montas has positioned himself squarely in the conversation for a 25-man roster spot.

NOTEWORTHY: The A’s have collected 10 doubles over their last two games, and Wednesday they jumped ahead with big offense early once again. Ryon Healy went 2-for-3 with an RBI and is hitting .359. Vogt is also swinging it well. He doubled home two runs in the first and is batting .324.

FAMILIAR FACE: : Tyler Ladendorf, who spent the previous seven-plus seasons in the A’s organization, entered mid-game at shortstop for the Sox and struck out in his only at-bat. Ladendorf signed with Chicago on a minor league deal earlier this spring.

ODDS AND ENDS: With their 13th victory, the A’s (13-10) eclipsed their win total from all of last spring with 11 games still to go. … Sonny Gray (strained lat muscle) felt good a day after playing catch for the first time in two weeks. He was set to do so again Wednesday. … Rajai Davis (1-for-3) scored two runs and notched his fifth stolen base. … Ryan Madson gave up a run in his one inning of work. His ERA is 7.50 through six outings. He’s allowed 10 hits over six innings. … Santiago Casilla, in his fourth appearance, threw a scoreless inning with one hit and one walk.

Mailbag: How would Raiders' move affect A's ballpark search?

Mailbag: How would Raiders' move affect A's ballpark search?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With one week to go until the A’s break camp and head north, there are still some roster issues to be cleared up.

The big-picture question regarding this team, obviously, is where it might be building a future ballpark.

With all this in mind, we try to provide some clarity on questions submitted via Twitter:

From @Cjkittrell: If the Raiders move to Vegas, does the Coliseum site jump to the top of the list of possible ballpark sites by default?

That’s not necessarily the case. You have to remember what the A’s crave more than anything in a ballpark location: A thriving surrounding area — with restaurants, bars, shops, etc. — that will make the ballpark an attraction beyond the baseball game itself. Team president Dave Kaval has talked of wanting a “ballpark village” around a new venue. A downside of the Coliseum is that there is nothing around the area right now that would attract fans besides the baseball. Other sites, including Howard Terminal, appear to have more potential as far as surrounding attractions.

This doesn’t count out the Coliseum as an option. As Kaval has said, it’s the only site of four being considered that the A’s know is truly viable. There’s comfort in that. And the BART station, freeway access and available parking are big plusses. But something else I’ll mention in regard to the Raiders: Even if they announce a move to Las Vegas, they have lease agreements that would keep them playing football at the Coliseum at least through the 2018 season while their Vegas stadium is under construction. With the Raiders likely to be on the property for that period, it could complicate the A’s own hypothetical construction plans for the Coliseum site.

From @44BWells: With the emergence of Franklin Barrreto and the contract of Jed Lowrie, what's Joey Wendle's present and future?

They appear murky, don’t they? First and foremost, Wendle has to recover from a sore right shoulder that’s kept him out of exhibitions for a while. But the acquisition of utility man Adam Rosales meant Wendle probably wasn’t going to make the club out of spring training anyway. He’s got a fan in manager Bob Melvin, who was impressed with Wendle defensively last September. It was Wendle’s glove that was the question mark when he arrived from the Cleveland Indians. Barreto has the star-caliber upside and the hype. Once the A’s deem him ready, Lowrie becomes a trade possibility. But Wendle’s advantage is that, to a degree, he’s already proven himself in the majors. He’s a known quantity at this level. If a second baseman is needed early in the season, Wendle could get a call-up before Barreto if Barreto gets off to a slow start.

As for Wendle’s future beyond 2017, it would serve him well to be able to handle as many positions as possible. He realizes this. That’s why he volunteered to play winter ball in Mexico this past offseason, where he played lots of shortstop. His role moving forward could be as more of a utility guy, because I see Barreto growing roots at second base.

@ONChristy: Do the A's have the pieces, both in the majors and minors, to make a run in 2018-2020?

Well, it’s definitely tough to look down the road and forecast a three-year block. Here’s a short answer for you: They better! All of the trades of the past couple seasons have been made with an eye toward stockpiling young talent — especially on the pitching side. Contending this year will be a tall order. But by the end of this season, I’d expect Barreto and third baseman Matt Chapman to have gotten their feet wet in the big leagues. There’s a strong chance you’ll also see young pitchers such as Frankie Montas and Daniel Gossett up. There’s a large core of young players who are on the cusp of being major league ready.

Add to that some core veterans such as Khris Davis, Kendall Graveman Marcus Semien and (if he’s not traded) Sonny Gray— who will all be under team control through 2019 at least — and the A’s have a solid foundation for contending in that timeframe you mention. But let’s face it, there’s a lot that can and usually does happen over any three-year span that completely changes what we think we know going in.