Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Friday, March 25, 2005

AL West Preview - Oakland Athletics

Well, time for us to continue our preview of AL West teams with Oakland.

2004 Record: 91-71

Significant Additions:
Dan Haren, RHP
Jason Kendall, C
Dan Meyer, LHP
Keiichi Yabu, RHP

Significant Subtractions: (plenty of these)
Jermaine Dye, OF
Mark Mulder, LHP
Tim Hudson, RHP
Mark McLemore, everything
Damien Miller, C
Arthur Rhodes, LHP
Mark Redman, LHP
Chris Hammond, LHP

Wow. One thing you can not say about Billy Beane is that he sits on his hands during the offseason. It is fairly obvious that Beane saw the team going downhill with the Big Three, knew that he was going to lose at least one of them to free agency, and took what our president would call a "pre-emptive strike". As an M's fan, the best days of the postseason (behind the signings of Sexson and Beltre) was when Hudson and Mulder were traded. With those two pitchers, you knew that even though the A's offense was nothing special, the team would be able to win most every night. Let's take a more detailed look at the current pitching roster.

Possible starting rotation: Barry Zito, Rich Harden, Dan Haren, Joe Blanton, and Dan Meyer.

Possible bullpen: Octavio Dotel (closer), Ricardo Rincon, Huston Street, Justin Duscherer, etc.

This is a completely different look for the A's and absolutely chock full of question marks.

Gavin: Barry Zito is an enigma. After winning the AL Cy Young award, he has been maddeningly inconsistent. It's to the point that you simply do not fear him as much when he's the opposing pitcher. His curve has either not fooled or the control as been off. If he is back to Cy Young form, this is a great staff...

Rich Harden may be the ace this year. I have been pretty impressed with him each time I've seen him. He has everything, including a hard fastball that appears effortless.

The rest of the rotation is young potential after young potential. Each of these pitchers has proven minor league success but no real major league experience. Look for them to experience growing pains. It is obvious that Billy Beane restocked for next season... anything he gets this year is a bonus.

As for the bullpen, Octavio Dotel is a solid closer. The rest of the bullpen is also filled with young talent. Look for Kiki Calero, acquired in the Mark Mulder deal, to be a consistent contributor.

Colin: I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this staff. Even Zito came to camp with a huge question mark. Can he be a stopper without the help of his two mates? Is he a true ace? Is Harden an ace-in-waiting? How much of this potential will translate to wins? It just seems that Beane is fine with taking a small step back in looking towards the future. This staff could be dynamite. It could be terrible. My guess? It will be good.... not great, but good. About as good as I hope the M's staff could be. That would be fine for most teams, but the A's offense... well, we'll get there soon.

I agree with Gavin that Dotel is a solid closer, and the bullpen is filled with that great word, potential, as well. The youth of the bullpen should cost the A's some leads. How many remains to be seen.

Possible Starting Lineup:

Jason Kendall, C: (Gavin) Kendall is a player that the Pirates didn't want... the Pirates. This is the big offensive acquisition? Yes, he has a good OBP, and he hustles, makes good contact. Kendall is also injury prone and unable to carry the offense.

(Colin) I think this is a major point. He was the best player on a terrible team that did absolutely nothing while he was there. The pitching staff didn't improve under his watch, the offense never centered around him, and he usually had at least one stint on the DL per season. Personally, I feel that Miller might be a better overall catcher.

Eric Chavez, 3B: (Gavin) Best player on this team. Chavez is great both in the field and at the plate. Outside of Alex Rodriguez, the best third baseman in the AL (sorry Adrian Beltre). Chavez has also struggled with injuries and Oakland desperately needs an MVP season out of him for this offense to compete.

(Colin) Another Mariner killer. Don't tell him that Safeco Field isn't a home-run park, he hits at least one every time the A's come to town. I love this guy. He will be money.

Bobby Crosby, SS: (Gavin) The 2004 AL Rookie of the Year displayed impressive potential also in the field and at the plate. If he can build on that success, he can be a good producer for this squad.

(Colin) They don't need him to just build on that success, they need him to uber-build on that success. They need a hundred RBI's from him to help what usually was a struggling offense.

Keith Ginter, 2B: (Gavin) Keith Ginter is the second baseman. Enough said.

(Colin) Let's trade them Willie Bloomquist. That'll show them.

Scott Hatteberg, 1B: (Gavin) For some odd reason, Beane keeps trotting Hatteberg out there at first base, even though it is apparent that he is one of the worst everyday first basemen in the league... not as bad as Erstad, but close. Yes, he'll work the pitcher some, but he lacks the power and consistency to compete with other first basemen in the league.

(Colin) Gavin states this well. Why would you want a 1st basemen with absolutely no power whatsoever? There must be someone in their minor leagues that could be a better fit.

Erubiel Durazo, DH: (Gavin) Most frustrating member of this offense for Beane, I'd assume. When he came over from Arizona, most (including me) figured he would become a major contributor. Instead, he has been wildly inconsistent, and Oakland needs him to give them the power boost necessary for this lineup to not just become a bunch of singles hitters.

(Colin) Of course, another character that performed well against the M's last year. Of course, that happened with just about everyone. I expect that, after Chavez, Durazo will work out to be the #2 power source of the lineup.

Eric Byrnes, OF: (Gavin) The beginning of an unimpressive outfield... in fact, I would call it the worst outfield in the AL West by far. Byrnes is a hustle player and a fan favorite. Plays decent defense, and is a gap player with some pop. Essentially each of these outfields are carbon copies of one another. Consistent mediocrity. It would be like Seattle having an outfield consisting of three Randy Winns.

Mark Kotsay, OF: (Gavin) See above.

Bobby Kielty, OF: (Gavin) See above. Not a consistent power threat among them, not a consistent base stealer among them. Not a consistent defensive threat among them.

(Colin) I'm with Gavin on this outfield. Randy Winn times three, though Kielty has the potential of more pop in his bat. This is the least impressive part of a less than impressive lineup. Best case scenario? Byrnes is an energy spark both offensively and defensively. Mark Kotsay has a high OBP and takes high quality AB's. Bobby Kielty finds a power stroke, becoming a viable, regular, home-run threat.

Gavin: Overall this offense is mediocre. Really mediocre. Long way from the "two walks, then three-run homer" offense of Miguel Tejada and Jason Giambi. They will put a lot of pressure on that young pitching staff.

Colin: This is a very tough team to call. They have the potential (there's that word again) to be a team that hustles, pitches well, and grinds out wins. They also have the potential to really struggle. A LOT with depend on the growth of Harden and the consistency of Zito. If they form a solid top of the rotation, the A's will be able to avoid long losing streaks and stay in the race for most of the season. If not.... they will, finally, have an off year.

posted by colin_hesse @ 5:35 PM  0 comments

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