Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Pre-Season Look At: The Oakland Athletics

After another heartbreaking playoff loss in Season 5, the Oakland Athletics are looking to make some major moves in an effort to help them avoid yet another early exit from the playoffs.

Oakland has been plagued with the problem of being an excellent 162-game season team. However, they have proven several years in a row that they simply are not cut out for the short series. The reason is simple: Lack of a true Ace.

The pitching is solid, that's for sure. Anchored by
Steve Kennedy & Fernando Rosado, followed in a pen captained by workhorse Lance Woolf & up and comer Fonzie Wayne (1.56 ERA in his Sept. callup), the pitching in Oakland is certainly top-notch...except there is no Chris Nen/Cesar Carrasquel out front. It's no coincidence that those two teams made it as far as they did in the postseason.

The offense, on the other hand, is absolutely stacked. Leading the charge in Season 6 will be the young, outstanding trio of
Roosevelt Thomas, Jeff Zambrano & Mo Springer. Former Season 4 AL MVP Turk Weaver is also still on board, although his numbers certainly fell off a bit last season (.332/.392/.607 in S4 & .293/.373/.500 in S5). Terry Heffner is also still around to patrol Right Field and abuse opposing pitchers with that career OPS around .965. Noteable is that last season, 8 players had over 20 HR's with Bryant Browne posting 19. Bear in mind that Thomas (20 HR's in 342 AB's), Zambrano (23 HR's in 396 AB's) & Springer (51 HR's in 432 AB's!) all started the season in AAA. Imagine what a full season of just those three can do for a team's offense.

So, what to expect out of Oakland in the offseason? I think they'd look to move a bunch of their young, solid players like 1B Bryant Browne, SP Willie Segui, RP Lance Turner, etc in an effort to upgrade to a true Ace. I also think you'll see them do something similar to what they did with Woolf last season and sign Kennedy and Weaver to long-term deals as they both have offered to take "less than market" deals. Also, expect to see a lot of the same coaches as most will be retianed, with perhaps as few as 4 being overheard as wanting to "test the market". Only time will really tell but one thing is certain, they will spend as much as they can on Training, Medical and their Advanced Scouts as these three keys have always helped lead to a succsful team in Oakland.

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