Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Season Preview : Oakland A's

The Team     The A's haven't been to the post season since 2006 which was also the last time they finished above .500. In that time the only thing that has grown is the ego of Billy Beane as he continues to hunt down the latest market inefficiency and the patience the A's fans are having with Beane's approach.

The Good     Playing in a pitchers park certainly helps. Their rotation were a big part in leading the team to an AL best 3.56 ERA while surendering the fourth fewest walks and the likes of Cahill, Anderson and Gio (Gonzalez) will be looked on to carry the club yet again.

Kurt Suzuki is one of the best all around catchers in the game and brings the kind of intangibles that allow him to provide production in the middle of the order even though on a good team he'd be batting in the 8-hole.

The Bad     This team does not score runs. Their slugging percentage was tied for second worst in the AL and it all stems from the infield corners where Kouzmanoff and Barton combined for 26 homers which would be a pedestrian total for a single corner infielder on a big league roster. The addition of Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui should help them some but neither really figures to have the kind of power needed to clear those Colisseum walls regularly.

Its also worth noting that the likes of Matsui, Willingham, Crisp, Ellis and Andrew Bailey have not been very very durable in recent seasons and all of those players will be key to any success Oakland has this year.

Best Case Scenario     Bailey and Harden stay healthy, Wuertz rebounds and join Fuentes to form possibly the best bullpen in baseball backing up and excellent starting core which helps to hold opposing lineups to minimal production. The offence will be lead by Ellis, Crisp and Pennington and their speed on the bases and timely hits from the likes of Barton and Willingham see Oakland contend in the west.

My Prediction     They just won't score runs. It is so hard to get by in the modern game with singles and doubles hitters and while I wouldn't be surprised to see them get out of the blocks strong there is always the risk that momentum will be be curtailed by injuries. Expect them to fight it out with Anaheim for second place out west.

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