Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Training Spotlight: Oakland Athletics

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-Digger's Daily-

The Oakland Athletics youth movement is maturing. 2011 could be Oakland's turn to shock the baseball world. They must be sensing their time is now judging by an active winter of wheeling and dealing. New faces counted on to contribute include Hideki Matsui (DH), David DeJesus (rF), Josh Willingham (LF), Grant Balfour (P), Brandon McCarthy (P) and a few others currently competing for roster spots. A's brass aggressively perused the likes of Lance Berkman, Adrian Beltre and Japanese import Hisashi Iwakuma but lack of big money offers failed to entice.

Oakland's starting rotation progressed wonderfully in 2010. Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez & Dallas Braden represent the front four. All talented and primed to take a step to the next level. Middle relieve is nearly unhittable setting up lights out closer Andrew Bailey. Opposing teams will have a tough time scoring against my prediction for AL's top ERA unit. Question, can offense find ways to generate enough runs to win ball games?

Offense received a boost. Matsui & Willingham will be heavily counted on as run producers. A healthy Coco Crisp and DeJesus will be top of the lineup table setters. Remaining injury free has been a major problem for Oakland players in recent seasons. Most major contributors missed time derailing potential team success and, in some cases, prematurely ended careers.

A's lineup isn't geared to go toe to toe with powerhouse clubs. However, if they can score just enough then expect their pitchers to take care of the rest. There won't be many late inning rallies against these guys. If Oakland can manage a relatively injury free season then they'll be in the hunt all year long.


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