Oakland A’s Preview
(MLB predictions at the bottom)
Similar to the Raiders, Giants and Warriors, the A’s have zero chance of going to the playoffs this season. The addition of Matt Holliday will make them a better team than they were last year but they are still far from ready to compete with the Angels. The lack of stability in the rotation and the complete reliance on the three run home run will not allow the A’s to be in the post season conversation in 2009. However, the A’s will be significantly more exciting than they have been over the past couple of years and the future does look bright for the team on the field, where ever that field may be. Notwithstanding the lack of any real chance to play significant October baseball this year, the A’s are an improved team that will be the class of Bay Area baseball in 2009.
+ The meat of the order (Giambi, Holliday and Cust) will strike fear in most opposing pitchers
+ Ellis and Cabrera are the best double play combination the Bay Area has seen since Jose Uribe and Robby Thompson.
+ One or Two of the young pitchers (Braden, Gallagher, Eveland , Anderson and Cahill, ) will emerge as potential aces in the years to come.
- The best guy to get on base and into scoring position for Holliday and Co. is … Matt Holliday.
- The sad story of Eric Chavez. Need I say more?
- No Home Runs = No Win. The A’s are still going to have a hard time scoring runs if they are unable to hit the ball out of the ball park
Projected Batting Order
1. Ryan Sweeney – CF
Sweeney is a big key for this team as he needs to get on base for the guys behind him - tall order for a very young player.
2. Orlando Cabrera – SS
Cabrera is still a great defensive player but I would expect his numbers to decline in the ball park with the largest foul territory in the majors.
3. Jason Giambi – 1B
A complete nightmare with the glove and only hit .247 at Yankee stadium which is tailor made for his swing. A’s fans could start to get on him if he struggles early which seems likely.
4. Matt Holliday – LF
He will probably get off to a slow start because of the pressure of living up to a contract year and playing in the American League. He should find his groove by the start of the summer. I do not expect to see him traded this year because it will be a buyer’s market given the state of the economy and Beane would rather have the compensatory draft picks.
5. Jack Cust – DH
Mr. All or Nothing continues his run as the 21st century Dave Kingman.
6. Nomar Garciaparra / Bobby Crosby / Eric Chavez – 3B
One is too old, one has a bigger hole in his swing than Tom Selleck’s character in Mr. Baseball and the other will spend more time on the DL than on the field. Where is Carney Lansford when you need him?
7. Kurt Suzuki – C
If Cust is Mr. All or Nothing than Suzuki is Mr. Good not Great. These will be his stats every year for the next 10 years: .275 avg, 10 home runs, 50 RBIs and 2 steals … good not great.
8. Mark Ellis – 2B
I fully expect Ellis to bounce back from a tough 2008. However, I expect Ellis to have the gold glove stolen away from him again in the year end popularity contest MLB calls the post-season awards.
9. Travis Buck – RF
Buck is an AAAA player (too good for AAA, not good enough for the show). He will be on the first bus to Sacramento when the A’s find someone else with any kind of upside.
Projected Starting Rotation
1. Justin Duchscherer
Great pitcher when he is healthy but his health continues to be a big concern as he will start the year on the DL.
2. – 5. Dallas Braden, Josh Outman, Dana Eveland and Brett Anderson
Along with everybody in the A’s front office, I have no idea what to expect from these guys. Braden is the most polished and Gallagher has the most short-term upside but neither of them nor Eveland nor Anderson has given us any reason to believe that 2009 will be a breakout year for any of them. However, Beane’s track record suggests at least one of them will give A’s fans a reason to be optimistic for the future.
Brad Ziegler– Closer
Like most new closers, his first season will be full of ups and downs but I think Ziegler should be viewed as the closer of the future.
Joey Devine – Setup
Devine was very effective last year with a 0.59 ERA. If he stays healthy, the A’s could have a decent one-two bunch going into the 8th and 9th innings this year. However, an early season trip to Birmingham, AL to see Dr. James Andrews does not bode well for his prospects in 2009.
Santiago Casilla – Setup
Casilla looks like the most obvious setup man while Devine is out. He averaged just below a strike out an inning last year and I would expect that number only to get better in 2009.
The A’s are an improved team over last year and I believe they will be slightly better than .500.
85 – 77, 8 GB (2nd Place in the AL West)
Overall Predication for MLB
(Teams in Bold are playoff teams)
5. Padres (the worst team in MLB)
1. NY Mets
4. White Sox
1. Red Sox
4. Blue Jays
Cubs beat the Phillies
Mets beat the Dodgers
Cubs beat the Mets
Red Sox beat the Indians
Yankees beat the Angels
Red Sox beat the Yankees
Red Sox beat the Cubs
(Bold Prediction: At the end of 2009, we will all be saying the 2009 Red Sox were the best team of the decade because they will cruise to the World Series title this year. They will be compared to the ’98 Yankees and they will deserve that praise.)