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!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

MLB Preview: Oakland A's

After looking at both the Angels and the Rangers (two teams that should definitely win some games), it is fitting to finish with perhaps the best team in the AL West, the Oakland A's. This team, last year, traded away Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, had about as bad of a 1st half offensively as is humanly possible (outside of Seattle, of course), and STILL almost won the West last year. Harden was injured multiple times, Crosby spent more than half the season on the DL, and Chavez had a slump-tacular spring. And, again, they STILL almost won the AL West.

This year? They have more offensive talent, and even MORE pitching talent, which should, in my opinion, easily carry them to the AL West title, as long as key parts stay healthy and the offense produces more than 2 runs per game. This proves, once again, that Billy Beane really knows how to put together a team, both with key trades, prudent free-agent signings, and with a strong farm system that continually churns out producing talent. Now, if he could just get rid of that stupid drummer..... and if Oakland fans could actually put their buts in some seats! Seriously, what a terrible fan base! Your team has been good for the last decade, for no avail, it appears, until the postseason.

C: Jason Kendall
Another year older, but still with a great eye at the plate and, it appears, a good rapport with the pitching staff. Kendall was one player who just couldn't get a hit at the beginning of the season, but finished with a respectable .345 OBP. Sure, he's another year older, and his power rivals one Scott Podsednik, but his bat works in this lineup.

1B: Dan Johnson
A rookie splash last season has led to some big expectations for this huge specimen of nature. I see no reason why he shouldn't live up to at least some of them. In any case, Johnson is MUCH better then Scott Hatteberg, one player who I could never understand Beane's fascination for.

2B: Mark Ellis
Ellis is one of those stupid AL West 2nd baseman (Adam Kennedy) who, for some reason, get stuck in the #9 slot even though they always get on base. Ellis was the most consistent hitter (from the games I saw) on this team last season, and should once again be a nice table-setter for the lineup.

SS: Bobby Crosby
If he can stay healthy this season, I am extremely interested to see what type of numbers he can put up. Sure, the home-run totals won't be too high (thank you Coliseum!), but he is one of the truly exciting young players in the AL. He's not bad defensively either.

3B: Eric Chavez
Here's the superstar. Expect big things once again, especially against the Mariners, whom he destroys.

OF: Milton Bradley
Another Beane pickup that has some risk to it, but also carries the possibility of big rewards. Bradley should immediately add some needed pop to the lineup, and it's just a matter of controlling that Eric Cartman-ish temper. Of course, if he explodes, I sure hope I'm watching, because it sure is entertaining, and I sure hope it's against Carl Everett.

OF: Mark Kotsay
This is who we all hope Jeremy Reed turns into, because he is a quality hitter who hits the ball to all fields and, once again, destroys Mariners pitching (recurring theme of our previews, I know). Again, I'm struck by how much this lineup should be improved from early last year.

OF: Nick Swisher
Another rookie who had some huge hits for the A's in their last campaign. Kudos for having one adorable semi-scowl, semi-smirk plastered on his face at all times (as well as chewing something, I think).

OF: Jay Payton
I add him just to mention the neat outfield depth that the A's have.

DH: Frank Thomas, Bobby Kielty
Man, if Thomas has a great year...... shoot. This was a no-lose situation for Beane, as he picks up a slugger for next-to-nothing.

Starting Rotation
Rich Harden
Barry Zito
Danny Haren
Estaban Loiaza
Joe Blanton

Shoot. I don't really know why Gavin was hyperventilating about the Angels' rotation (hint, Gavin: Colon's back is one burrito away from imploding, Escobar is injury-prone, Jeff Weaver is, well, Jeff Weaver, and Lackey still needs to prove he can do it again) but this rotation is pretty doggone sweet. Harden, if HE stays healthy, is my favorite for the Cy Young. Zito and Haren are top-shelf starters. Loiaza should succeed in the Coliseum, and Blanton is Ryan Franklin with actual talent. What a rotation like this gives you is protection against a long losing streak. You know that you have a talented starter going every day of the season.

Bullpen:
Huston Street (closer)
Justin Duchscherer
Kip Calero
Etc., etc.

Street might, now, be the best closer in the AL West. Yes, better than K-Rod. So, while the bullpen might be the weakest part of the A's, that is "weakest" in name only.

Seriously, this team should win the West, and, barring another postseason collapse, should be playing for the right to play in the World Series. Now, if they can just avoid another slow, slooooooowww, start.....

posted by colin_hesse @ 8:38 AM  0 comments

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