AL West Preview – A’s

Posted on March 12, 2011 by

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Thanks to a skilled youthful starting rotation, the A’s surprisingly won 81 games and finished 2nd in the West, even with an extremely weak offense. After several years of failed acquisitions in the offseason (Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, Ben Sheets), the A’s made some moves that look like they could work perfectly for their small – ball style of offense. Signing free – agent Hideki Matsui will really improve the offense in their pitcher friendly ballpark as he has shown to be a good doubles hitter. If he stays healthy and remains at the DH spot rather than LF, he could put up some serious power numbers that the team sorely needs. David DeJesus, the 2nd signing, is a tough player who may not have numbers that jump out, but he does a lot of little things that can help the team win. Josh Willingham, the 3rd singing, will give them some more power and will spend most of his time in LF. Coco Crisp will begin his 2nd year as the team’s CF and will bring plenty of speed on defense and offense. Crisp recently had some legal troubles after being detained on DUI charges, but he should be good to go by opening day. Kurt Suzuki is one of the more underrated catchers in baseball. Year after year he puts up good numbers and his leadership is a major reason why the pitching staff was so dominant last year. Even though the team has gone out and made a couple of positive signings to improve the line – up, the success of the team still rests on the shoulders of the young guns on the mound. Both the starting rotation and bullpen, led by Andrew Bailey, showed that they belonged in the upper ranks of the AL. Their four young starters Trevor Cahill (2010 All – Star), Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez and Brett Anderson all could be #1 pitchers on weaker staffs. Braden pitched a perfect game last season, but fizzled down the stretch. His positive spirit keeps that locker room loose every day. They brought back Rich Harden, a once dominant Oakland pitcher when he was healthy, and he hopes to resurrect his career as the fifth starter in the rotation. Josh Outman and Brandon McCarthy will give him a tough competition for the spot. Their strong bullpen was made even stronger with the acquisitions of Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes who will take a lot of stress off the starting pitchers back. The A’s are a serious dark horse in the AL West and they will give the Texas Rangers a run that will come down to the last few games of the year. With solid and exciting pieces in place, this could definitely be the year the A’s get back into the postseason

Starting Rotation (09-10 stats included)
Trevor Cahill: 18 – 8 / ERA 2.97
Brett Anderson: 7 – 6 / ERA 2.80
Gio Gonzalez: 15 – 9 / ERA 3.23
Dallas Braden: 11 – 14 / ERA 3.50
Rich Harden: (with Texas Rangers) 5 – 5 / ERA 5.58

Notable Relievers
Andrew Bailey: 1 – 3 / ERA 1.47 / 25 SVs
Brian Fuentes: 4 – 1 / ERA 2.81 / 24 SVs

Probable Line Up
CF Coco Crisp: .279 / 81 Hits / 32 SB
RF David DeJesus: (with Kansas City Royals) .318 / 5 HRs
1B Daric Barton: .273 / 10 HRs
DH Hideki Matsui: (with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) .274 / 21 HRs
LF Josh Willingham: (with Washington Nationals) .268 / 16 HRs
C Kurt Suzuki: .242 / 13 HRs
2B Mark Ellis: .291 / 127 Hits
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff: .247 / 16 HRs
SS Cliff Pennington: .250 / 127 Hits

Overall Grades
Starting Rotation:  A-
Bullpen – B+
Lineup – B
Overall – B+

-Michael Michela

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Posted in: A's, MLB, Uncategorized