Oakland GM Billy Beane has a plan

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Around this time of year, MLB.com asks its beat writers to put together a year-in-review for each of the league’s 30 teams.  Tom Singer took care of the task for the Oakland A’s, who struggled to a 75-87 record this past season and a last place finish in the American League West division.

Some lowlights of the A’s 2009 season, courtesy of Singer:

  • Oakland finished in the
    AL West cellar for the first time since 1998, and lingered there for 106 total days.
  • The A’s have been around for 109 years and have never had such a long stretch at the bottom of the standings.
  • The offense reached fewer total bases than any other team in the American League.
  • The team’s combined .328 on-base percentage ranked 21st in all of baseball and their .397 slugging percentage ranked 25th.
  • The 2009 A’s finished last in the American League in home runs.  That hadn’t happened since the organization was in Kansas City.

But fear not, A’s fans, GM Billy Beane has a plan:

Our organization has two waves of players,” Beane said this week. “We have a
strong group of young pitchers up in the Majors, and we have a group of
young hitters coming up behind them who will be ready soon. It’s a
process we went through in the 1990s, so we know how it works
.”

It’s hard to doubt the guy.  The last time the A’s rattled off three straight losing seasons (1996-1998) the next eight years brought four division championships and four second-place finishes.  And he’s right about the young pitching staff, a group that compiled the AL’s third-lowest ERA and set a franchise record for
strikeouts.  There is some hope for Oakland.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.