Ah, it's become such familiar territory. Sitting at home, watching postseason baseball, and not seeing the A's on the big screen.
Maybe it's because I don't have a big screen, but not having the A's in the postseason yet again is getting frustrating. So, what do the A's have to do in 2011 to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2006? Let's examine position by position.
Catcher: Let's be honest, this might be the only position that hands down should not be touched, talked about, or even thought about in any way. Although he struggled at the plate only hitting .242, he was second on the A's with 13 home runs (sad, I know) and tied for first in RBI's with 71. But, the work that he continues to do with the young pitching staff is phenomenal. The guy deserves much more credit than he receives from the rest of the league, especially after guiding the young staff to the leagues best rotation ERA.
First Base: I've heard many people calling for Billy Beane to go out and buy a first baseman with a big bat, but I don't see a reason. Daric Barton hit .273 with 10 home runs and 57 RBI's. Not shabby, but definitely not powerful numbers. Not even close to power. But that's not what's important. What is, is his defense and his ability to get on base. The guy loves first base, 110 walk to lead the AL to be more specific. He also look like he did gymnastics growing up because he stretches like Gumbi over at first. It's irreplaceable, even for a big bat.
Second Base: There's not much to say here. The A's need, and should, pick up the one year option on lifelong A's infielder Mark Ellis. Someone who would have won multiple gold gloves if he played for a better team, Ellis provides veteran leadership to a young team.
Shortstop: Cliff Pennington hit .250 in his first full year a major league starter. He definitely went through rough patches and terrible slumps, but found a way to hit eight triples and 46 RBI's even though he hit at the bottom of the lineup the whole year. Did I mention that he has the best arm of any infielder in the majors? And yes I'm willing to argue that.
Third Base: Here's where things get interesting. Kevin Kouzmanoff doesn't fit with the A's. Eric Chavez is done. And there are no quick fix options in triple-A. If the A's were to go out and get a bat, this is where it would make the most sense to put it. There needs to be an addition of a big bat if the A's want to de-throne the Rangers next year.
Outfield: I group the three outfield positions together because I feel the A's are pretty set out here. Remember Ryan Sweeney? The right fielder was hitting over .300 for most of his injury shortened season and dipped just below before he was forced to the bench. A fantastic fielder, Sweeney has right field on lockdown. Rajai Davis and Coco Crisp both deserve to start as well. Crisp has a one year club option for next year, but I think it would benefit the A's to pick it up. Crisp had injury problems last year, but when he playe he looked well worth the money. Davis had another productive year stealing bases and with Crisp, would make up the fastest lef-center combo in the league. You might be asking, what about that big bat? Welp, that's what the dh is for. Please no more Jack Cust. Chris Carter looks like he might finally be ready to make the leap to a full-time major leaguer after September's call-up. No more Mr. Choke in Big Moments and some consistent power in the middle of the lineup would be the benifit of that change.
As you can see, the A's are close to being a contender. Sure it still depends on injuries and other unforeseen occurrences. The A's are one or two big bats away from being a serious contender.