By Jason Wojciechowski on March 26, 2012 at 8:45 PM
Eno Sarris at FanGraphs writes up the A's #28 rank in their annual organizational rankings. (I'd call them "organization rankings" because the rankings themselves aren't organizational, but it's probably not enough to deserve a "[sic]," so I'll leave it alone.) Twenty-eight is obviously pretty terrible, but it's hard to argue with the A's lack of success on the field for five years running, their relative lack of resources, and the possibility, which I don't think Sarris mentions, that the A's could go through the turmoil of a sale now that it seems they won't be moving to San Jose any time soon.
Sarris does say "They can't even get a new stadium until they somehow get the Giants to agree to allow the Athletics to move to San Jose," which isn't right. There are other places in the Bay Area, including in A's territory (and even in Oakland itself!) where a new stadium could be feasible. The Coliseum won't last forever, and because the Giants' disdain for sharing with the A's might be eternal, you've got to figure that the less immovable object is "we have to build in San Jose!"
I will say that I'm a little annoyed at Sarris for writing that the A's "haven't managed to win it all in the Moneyball era" because I know he knows better than to count playoff performance as any indication whatsoever of a baseball operations crew's talents.
A different issue that Alan Torres raised on Twitter is that these rankings might be kind of pointless. Is there any value in looking in ranking a franchise on factors they can't control? Baseball operations are one thing. The marketing team's ability to squeeze blood from a stone is another. But the inherent difficulty of a two-team market, the location and decrepitude of a stadium, etc. etc. -- are those valid issues to include?
I think this is a worthwhile way to attempt to rank teams. Money matters to winning on the field whether the team has any say about how much comes in or not. I also think another set of rankings that attempted to control for the underlying situation would be worthwhile. (To the extent, anyway, that you can separate the job Billy Beane does from the situation he's in, or the job Brian Cashman does from the money he has. Or, to move out of the operations side, the job Seattle's marketing department does from the unique circumstances of that locality and fanbase.) I don't think FanGraphs's organization[al] rankings are bad, though. (In concept, that is.)
Grant Brisbee proposes a fake trade that has Kurt Suzuki and Collin Cowgill leaving town and Nick Castellanos and Brandon Gomes coming in. I don't know enough about Castellanos to evaluate whether he alone (Gomes is a 28-year-old reliever who's barely been in the bigs) is worth Suzuki and six years of Cowgill.
Thankfully, the A's didn't do something silly like shoehorn Travis Schlichting onto the roster. Wes Timmons, Evan Scribner, and Schlichting were all left off the 28-man roster for the A's two-game series against Seattle. (The three inactives to get the team down to 25 for the games will be, as expected, Daric Barton, Tom Milone, and Tyson Ross.)