Well it's about that time of year again. It was a good season overall for the Oakland Athletics of the East Bay via Fremont by San Jose of California, or whatever their new name will be in a few years. The A's season ended later than in any year since 1992, but it wasn't enough to win the World Series. We lost what every team thinks is all they need to compete (a top of the rotation starter and a cleanup hitter), but we replaced it with a solid bat and in-house starter potential. A down-grade perhaps, but, health allowing, not too much of one.
As of now (UPDATED: 4/4/07) the 2007 lineup looks like this:
C: Jason Kendall (Kendall)
1B: Nick Swisher (Dan Johnson)
2B: Mark Ellis (Ellis)
SS: Bobby Crosby (Crosby)
3B: Eric Chavez (Chavez)
LF: Travis Buck/Bobby Kielty (Swisher)
CF: Milton Bradley (Mark Kotsay)
RF: Shannon Stewart (Bradley)
DH: Mike Piazza (Piazza)
Bench: Scutaro, Melhuse, (Kielty), (Stewart)
Most guys returned. We could see some of Jeremy Brown and Daric Barton next year. Brown did well in his limited time, which is a nice sign. Obviously, losing Frank Thomas' production is painful, but letting him go was the right decision. A healthy lineup with that bat could be all the A's need. The injury bug has struck early and often right at the beginning of the season for the A's. I put the guys who would play the position when everyone's healthy in parenthesis.
Travis Buck is an exciting development for the A's. It looks like he'll be taking the majority of the playing time in left while Kotsay and Johnson are out. The question is whether or not he'll stay on the team once everyone's healthy. I'd rather him get sent down to AAA (unless he's really raking), rather than be our 6th OF. Maybe Johnson won't get the job and Swisher will stay at 1B, but that's unlikely.
The offense is not a strong point for the A's, but it's not a terribly weak point either. Everyone can put together good ABs and get on base. The trouble is hitting with RISP.
Pitching-wise, the A's look something like this (UPDATED 4/4/07):
Chad Gaudin (Esteban Loaiza)
Zito is overrated, and his best quality is dependability. I don't think he's really a true ace, albeit a fine guy to have in the rotation. With Loazia down, Gaudin is getting the chance to start, which I think could turn out positively for the A's. The A's pitching prospects are decent but unspectacular. Joe Kennedy won the 5th starter job with a horrible spring, so it remains to see how he'll do in the role. Until Loaiza gets back there are no other real options (Halsey?), so he'll have some time. As a whole, I like the A's rotation. Harden and Haren are a top class 1-2 punch, and the rest of the guys are solid and dependable.
The bullpen is the A's real strength. Duke is a top set up man and Street has shown that he can be a top closer as well. Calero may have better stuff than Duke, and we have a plethora of lefties who can get batters out. There's a strong mix of experience (Embree) and inexperience (Marshall) that balances out well. After Harden and Haren, all the A's need to do is get to the 6th inning and hand it over. Obviously, this wouldn't work every night, but having a bullpen you can fall back on is a major strength. As long as the bullpen is managed well (unlike throwing an unwarmed-up Calero out there instead of a warmed-up Duke last night), we should see many late-inning 0's on the opponent's side of the scoreboard.
So despite the 0-2 start, it's a long season and one the A's are geared up to handle. Despite the massive amounts of injuries, the A's depth is handling it, and should hold steady until we're at full capacity. Should be a fun season!
Let me know if I'm missing anything.
Last edited by Half Massed on Wed Apr 04, 2007 4:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.