When the biopic of your life comes out, who’s playing the role of you? 

Danny Glover?

Jesse Eisenberg?

Or maybe if you’re a disrespected sort: Rodney Dangerfield? 

How would you feel if it were, say, Brad freaking Pitt? 

Pretty good, right? I mean one thing we never talk about is the hot GM. 

And I don’t just mean Brad-Pitt hot but also hello-Mister-Pit-Boss hot. Throwing-sevens-all-night hot. 

Some of the heat waves can be observed in the pace, preponderance and timing of their transactions. Some is plain as day in the results on the field. Some is apparent only through the stillness—through the inverse of that visible heat: a stagnant team scared to rock the boat for fear it’s mere moments from tipping. 

Perhaps I’ve mentioned that I’m a Cubs fan. That stagnation describes the Cubs moves since the ill-fated Eloy trade. Describes the Rockies, too—just letting assets pile into a traffic jam with hopes to maybe sort them later. 

Tampa is perhaps the best example of pace and preponderance of transactions signaling confidence. The Dodgers’ refusal to engage with Pittsburgh on their lofty terms last summer demonstrated a similar if different confidence. Oakland’s style is closer to that patient Dodger model than the high-wire act Tampa has to perform, but it’s definitely a style all its own. Twenty years after Moneyball, Billy Beane’s teams still find value when nobody’s bothering to really look. 

 

Player | Age on 5/1/2020 | Highest Level Played | ETA

1. LHP Jesus Luzardo | 22 | MLB | 2019

2. LHP A.J. Puk | 25 | MLB | 2019

Sore. 

From head to toe. 

I’m Luzardo, baby.

So why don’t you draft me? 

(Yeah I know that’s not how the song goes). 

Jesus Luzardo carries as much hype into 2020 as Chris Paddack had in 2019. Maybe more. Maybe even as much as Luzardo himself had coming into 2019. I think he’ll be better than Paddack was last year, which is really saying something. He’ll go deeper in games and pick up more wins thanks to the Athletics superior defense, bullpen, and offense. They’re really good, and the excess four territory in their home park will really help. Would have especially helped Paddack, funnily enough, as he’s a flyball pitcher who generates a lot of foul balls. 

The starting rotation will look very different this year in Oakland, as Luzardo will be joined by 6’6” platoon maker A.J. Puk. I can’t imagine being a lefty bat against this guy in high school. As Larry Walker is my witness, I would learn to hit right handed. Or call in sick that day. 

 

3. C Sean Murphy | 25 | MLB | 2019

As much as any player’s this season, Sean Murphy’s value depends on your league’s settings. Catchers run from 10-12 deep to 30-40 started in standard leagues, so how does one evaluate the position for lists like these? I know we could say the same for most spots in the sense that league context is key, but it’s not the same, (and you know it so don’t give me that : ). Regardless of the setting, Murphy has value as a potential top ten catcher—it’s just a question of how much that matters in your league. 

 

4. SS Jorge Mateo | 24 | AAA | Late 2020

5. SS Robert Puason | 17 | NA | 2024

The tier breakdown is not real difficult here, which is one thing I’m liking about the tiering. It’s what I’ve been doing in my own stuff for more than a decade, but it seems to fit especially well with some teams, like this one. Not that Jorge Mateo and Robert Puason are similar players. They’re on opposite ends of the spectrum, really, in terms of timeline and type of bet. In Mateo’s case, we might know too much (prospect fatigue) to keep his upside in view, and in Puason’s case, we know too little to make a long-term assessment with confidence. Who you’d pick comes down the type of game you want to play, or where you’re at in the build. I definitely like Puason’s swing batter than Mateo’s. And not at age. Now. But I haven’t seen Puason play, so it’s just a batting practice swing, so big whoop. I would take Mateo in most builds because he has a line on a job at second base, and maybe even in the outfield, and the possibility of Swiss army knife with 80 grade speed learning to play in a developmental system as strong as Oakland’s gets my blood percolating. Which also means I really like both players. I have the same reservations as you about Mateo, but compared to the possibilities and especially the fast-approaching nature of his impact window, I don’t really care that it might not work out. It might not work out for any of us. Fire tornadoes ffs. Stay safe out there. Send love down under. That’s what she said. It was good advice. 

 

6. RHP Daulton Jefferies | | 24 | AA | Mid 2020 

7. SS Nick Allen | 21 | A+ | 2022

8. 2B Sheldon Neuse | 25 | MLB | 2019

9. RHP Grant Holmes | 24 | AAA | Mid 2020

10. RHP James Kaprielian | 26 | AAA | Mid 2020

Due to a track record of health issues, the smart money is on Daulton Jefferies settling in as a reliever or swingman type, but I’m not that smart, and I don’t have any money. This isn’t exactly a Bieber starters kit, but Jefferies does have the kind off-speed command that sometimes leads to a career of exceeding expectations. 

Defense is the carrying tool for slick fielding Nick Allen, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially in an organization with a strong track record of teaching talented humans to build skills across time. 

A similar story exists for Sheldon Neuse, who would seem to be lacking the necessary tools to handle second base on a long-term basis, and who flat out forgot how to hit for a long stretch of his career, but who nonetheless holds promise as a playing time possibility in 2020. 

Grant Holmes has lived a few different lives as a prospect. From fireballing Dodger first rounder out of high school to pitch-mix survivor grinding out his years in Triple A to junkie detective on the BBC, has Holmes picked up enough tricks to crack the case of the juicy baseballs? Tune in this season on Fantasy Baseball to find out! (Spoiler alert: I think he’ll have some streamable days late summer). 

James Kaprielian has lived even more baseball lives than Holmes. I considered OF Marcus Smith here because I like him a lot in the long term, but we’ve reached the now-or-never hour for JK. It might not always look pretty as he continues to work his way back, but Oakland has to see what it’s got in him at the highest level this year.

 
  1. bigbear says:
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    Mmmmm…. Luzardo…. Where are you drafting him in a standard 12 team snake?

    Thanks for the write up.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, bigbear!

      I’m topside hunting in a league that size. Haven’t done a 12 this year but I like Luzardo more than Syndergaard, so it would just be a matter of waiting until I can’t stand it.

      He’s going around 130 overall, so I’d try to sneak in around 110.

  2. Dong Show says:
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    Awesome work as always Itch!

    Obviously not an A’s question but I just traded for the first overall pick in FA draft, so I have my choice of whatever.

    These are my options I’m considering:

    Bohm, Evan White, Noveli Marte, Torkelson, Alek Thomas, Hampson, Erik Pena and even Amed Rosario.

    There are others but I’m basically looking for best impact bat and I keep coming back to Bohm as top pick (he is also the highest rated prospect unowned in our league)

    Is he the obvious pick here? For reference I really don’t need anyone to make an immediate impact but it’s a major plus and I want the highest rated who could maybe be used as a trade chip (prospect would carry more value than Rosario here, but I do love him) . My team already has JRam, Bryant (playing OF) and Donaldson(UTL/Backup 3b) at Third and Alonso and Bell at 1b SS is Javy, Villar(main 2b backup as well), Andrus.

    Thoughts and as always much appreciated!

    • goodfold2 says:
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      back in oct he had bohm (55th) and pena back to back. thomas 5 lower than pena. unless this changed since oct’s top 150.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Dong Show!

      Today I think I’d take Evan White, but if you’re feeling Bohm, you should trust that instinct. Your team is loaded! Well built!

      • Dong Show says:
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        I have better news lol. This pick doesn’t apply to me Anymore.

        Today I sold FA pick 1.4 and 2.6 (we have 10 teams) for 1.1

        A few min ago I traded Acuna (it hurt me so much) for Mookie, Thor and 1.8

        And now I just flipped 1.1, 1.8 and Puig for Kelenic

        So I basically netted Mookie, Thor and Kelenic for Acuna.

        I feel like I had a good day. Kelenic makes me feel a lot better about trading Acuna and still getting a young player back.

        But thank you for this advice regardless!

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          Wowow!!

          Bold move to trade the top player but yeah can’t complain about that return!

          If Kelenic pops, it’s an incredibly profitable if equally difficult call.

      • Dong Show says:
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        I appreciate the well built team comment I’ve busted my ass to make this squad. Here is everything after trades. Need DK grab 4 guys in our draft to make a 32 man team.

        Team is now

        Grandal
        Alonso
        K. Marte
        Javy
        JRam
        Mookie
        Kris Bryant
        Brantley
        UTL- Donaldson

        Bench

        Soler
        Bell
        Villar
        Andrus

        SP

        Stras
        Bieber
        Thor
        Yu
        Sonny
        Paddack
        Fried
        Lynn
        Ray

        RP
        Chapman

        IA

        Kelenic
        Brujan
        Bart
        Witt Jr
        Trammell

        • goodfold2 says:
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          mookie/thor/kelenic for acuna is quite good.

          • goodfold2 says:
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            white moved up a lot if he was the answer since october (at least 22 spots) over bohm/pena, unless this answer was tailored to this exact roster.

            • Dong Show says:
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              And it the player was more about immediate upside I could possible use or trade which is where Bohm and White fit in. Bohm and White were pretty much 1a and 1b in my book for that pick, but wanted to see temp on other names as well

            • The Itch

              The Itch says:
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              Definitely moved up a bunch. I was feeling dangerous about White before the contract, and this skips him right by AAA, gives him long term job security and keeps the helium on hold a little bit because those numbers would’ve been obscene. It’s a big, big deal to me. I think we might generally underestimate the value of financial security in sports. Look at the Braves breakouts. Brandon Lowe too was much better than people would’ve expected. Money is real. Confidence is real. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a big season from Evan White.

              • goodfold2 says:
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                similar to the kingery bump when he signed for guaranteed money and a bunch of years before 2 seasons ago in late march. i remember drafting the DAY that happened and i had like 4 drafts (or 3) that day, his ADP variance went nutzo from draft 1 to 4. even with one of those drafts being a dynasty startup. white’s ADP has probably done similar (albeit the sample sizes in dec-jan are far easier to move since the much smaller amounts of drafts being done when compared to late march)

          • Dong Show says:
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            I know right? Lol. Not mad and I love Acuna. Never had 0 intention of trading him, ever. But I’m not a fool when it comes to value.

  3. goodfold2 says:
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    seth brown move down or did jefferies/allen/neuse or possibly all 5 of jefferies down move up since the 150 list, where s.brown was 95th (mateo and puason both ahead of brown on that but nobody else here).

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Good catch, goodfold!

      Been fighting a flu and had Brown temporarily zapped from my mind I guess.

      I’d put him right above Jefferies yeah.

  4. Jolt In Flow says:
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    Just an FYI; the “2020 Top 10” not hyperlinked yet for Angels and Athletics on the main prospects team page even though you finished their write-ups.

    Thanks for your work!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks for the heads up, Jolt in Flow!!!

  5. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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    Great stuff! Was listening to a third party podcast not to be named, and they mentioned Mateo as the guy you can get in standard leagues for basically nothing, who is theoretically capable of rocketing to the first or second round in 2021. Reasoning was basically that, if given the opportunity, he could fall into the Trea/Mondesi mold…and he’s out of options, so he’s going to be on a major league roster somewhere (either on the A’s if he gets the 2B gig or whoever claims him, eg BAL or DET or somewhere else that would likely start him regularly).

    Do you see that happening as an unlikely but not crazy possibility? / what do you see the As doing with Mateo?

  6. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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    Great stuff! Was listening to a third party podcast not to be named, and they mentioned Mateo as the guy you can get in standard leagues for basically nothing, who is theoretically capable of rocketing to the first or second round in 2021. Reasoning was basically that, if given the opportunity, he could fall into the Trea/Mondesi mold…and he’s out of options, so he’s going to be on a major league roster somewhere (either on the A’s if he gets the 2B gig or whoever claims him, eg BAL or DET or somewhere else that would likely start him regularly).

    Do you see that happening as an unlikely but not crazy possibility? / what do you see the As doing with Mateo?

    • goodfold2 says:
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      could easily be in lineup now over say pinder or tony kemp. isn’t yet. easily could be later. easy late round draft pick for AL only (esp if a stash spot) but of course by late march might already BE in MLB as backup at least when drafts are going on. this doesn’t even include possible injuries to somebody, or barreto demotion yet again. esp true if they’ll have him play OF sometimes (mentioned as possibility above). wouldn’t be great for me if barreto is demoted again as he’s over his at bats in the lone spot i just traded for him (30 teamer with 40 minors spots). mateo is FAR harder/expensive to trade for in a league like this. speed guys that might not completely suck in other areas don’t come cheap, and sometimes even those who DO suck in other areas still get held onto. having said that i did drop mags sierra last year (but i’ll be able to bid on him in a few weeks if i want, but already having v.reyes for league min and some guys in OF signed already i probably won’t)

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      What up, Duda!!!??

      I do, by the way, want to build a snowman.

      But I have to shovel . . .

      It is pretty crazy to look at Mateo and see Mondesi or Trea, but I 80 speed is 80 speed, and I’ve always liked Mateo. He was one of my primary targets in a startup auction two years ago. He cost me $6 out of 300, and I’ve since flipped him in a deal for Verlander, but I had $16 set aside for him and am expecting him to be more valuable for dynasty than his cost at this moment.

      I think he needs some work as a hitter, and he’s much more 80 speed than 80 runner, but the juiced ball really helps him. As does the island of misfit toys that is the Oakland second base situation. As does the SB drain. I really like him in a 50-round draft and hold. In most standard-sized redraft leagues, he’s pretty fringe, but he’d always be on my list of free agents to track in a 12 or 10.

      Bottom line: He’s a must-own in every league if he gets a real shot at the job.

      • Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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        Awesome, thanks!!!

        Yeah, he’s a $0 end of draft reserve pick for me in my 12 team keeper in early March, and if he doesn’t have the job by end of April, he’ll be my first drop.

  7. LaRockakis says:
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    Itchy Boi!

    Not the right thread so I may have to repost and ask again, but I’ve been reading your notes on Brujan. How do you see his playing time with Adames and Franco both playing similar positions? Imo, I see Adames as the odd man out, but you know better than I do.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi LaRockakis!

      Thanks for reposting!!

      Great question here and I think it’s Kiermaier after thinking on it a bit. Maybe Adams too in the long run, but he’s still Tampa cheap with upside.

      Kiermaier’s making about 10 mill a year to bring about a win and a half by the Fangraphs War math over the past two years. Maybe Tampa values his defense more than any metrics would show, but he’s been truly awful in OBP. Billy Hamilton stuff.

      Granted he’s been hurt, but that’s kind of his thing. If they can find a taker for him, I think they’d trade him. Might even have been planning for it with the Xavier Edwards and Randy Arozarena moves. Puts the Edwards move in a different context, anyway.

      Guessing they’ll see if Brujan (and Edwards) can play CF early in 2020 then turn the page on Kiermaier if they can find a taker.

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