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Oakland A’s: 2014 Season Preview

25 Mar

Standing O Sports is previewing all 30 Major League teams seasons, division by division, team by team. Up next in the American League West is the Oakland Athletics.

What Happened Last Season

The Oakland A’s shocked the baseball world in 2013. Despite all the moves the Angels made, it was the A’s who took the division by winning 96 games which was good for 2nd most in the American League. During the regular season, the A’s were the only team to post a winning record in every month of the season, and Oakland scored the 4th most runs in the American League. In the division series against the Detroit Tigers however, the A’s took a 2-1 series lead, but Detroit battled back to tie the 5 series at 2. Then in Game 5, Justin Verlander shut the Oakland offense down as the A’s season came to a disappointing end. Oakland has not won a World Series since 1989, and the team is hoping 2014 can be a special season in the Bay Area.

Offseason Headlines

  • Lost Grant Balfour and Bartolo Colon in free agency
  • Acquired closer Jim Johnson from the Orioles in exchange for 2nd baseman Jemile Weeks
  • Signed Scott Kazmir to 2-year $22 million dollar contract
  • Signed Nick Punto to a one-year $2.75 million dollar contract
  • Traded prospect Michael Choice in exchange for Craig Gentry

Take: Billy Bean continues to stay away from the big contracts.  The losses of Grant Balfour and Bartolo Colon hurt, but we’ve probably seen the best of those two players considering their ages.  You have to like the acquisition of Jim Johnson who’s considerably younger than Balfour and who has posted back-to-back 50 save seasons.  Jemile Weeks fell out of favor with the organization.  Scott Kazmir showed some flashes of his old self with the Indians last season, and the A’s certainly didn’t overpay to get him.  Overall, the A’s didn’t make any major moves, but definitely positioned themselves to have another successful season in 2014.

Projected Lineup

Coco Crisp (CF)
Josh Donaldson (3B)
Jed Lowrie (SS)
Yoenis Cespedes (LF)
Brandon Moss (1B)
Josh Reddick (RF)
Alberto Callaspo (2B)
John Jaso (DH)
Derrick Norris (C)

Breakdown: Coco Crisp sits at the top of the A’s lineup, and he’s coming off arguably the best offensive season of his career. He hit a career high 22 home-runs, scored a career high 93 runs, and posted the highest WAR of his career (4.3). Following Crisp is Josh Donaldson, who at 28-years-old, is one late bloomer. Donaldson broke into the big leagues in 2010, and in his first full season in the bigs, flat-out dominated. Donaldson hit 24 home-runs, drove in 93 runs, and hit .301. We’ll find out in 2014 if last season was an admiration for Donaldson. Jed Lowrie is a nice 3-hitter. He hit a career high .290 last season. Yoenis Cespedes bats cleanup and is one of the best pure power hitters in the game. Consistency is the problem with him. Like many A’s players, Brandon Moss broke through last season hitting a career high 30 home-runs. Josh Reddick was one of the few players who had a down year, but is poised for a bounce back season in 2014. Rounding out the A’s lineup is Alberto Callaspo, John Jaso, and Derrick Norris who are all average hitters at best.

Projected Pitching Rotation

Sonny Gray
Scott Kazmir
Dan Straily
Tom Milone
Jesse Chavez

**A.J. Griffin has been shutdown for at least the next 3 weeks due to flexor tendonitis in his elbow. Griffin has no structural damage, but he still isn’t expected to return until the end of April at the earliest.
**Jarrod Parker will miss all of the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery for the 2nd time.

From rookie, to ace. Sonny Gray will be looked upon to lead the A’s staff in 2014. Gray has just 10 career starts under his belt, but was very effective during that time. Scott Kazmir was brought in from Cleveland and is the current number 2 starter. Kazmir’s career can only be described as a roller coaster ride to this point, and the A’s hope Kazmir is continues to go higher in 2014. Dan Straily is a stretch for the number 3 spot in Oakland’s rotation. Last season was his first full season in the bigs, and he was up and down. Tommy Milone pitched to an ERA above 4 last season, and Jesse Chavez is making the leap from the bullpen to the rotation because of all the injuries. All in all, this is a highly inexperienced staff, but things tend to work out for Billy Beane who knows what he’s doing.

X-Factor: Repeat Performance

So many A’s had breakout seasons in 2013. Brandon Moss came out of nowhere to hit 30 home-runs, Coco Crisp had a career offensive year, and if the A’s are going to repeat as division champs, these players are not only going to have to repeat what they did, they’re going to have to get better. This is especially important considering the state of the A’s pitching rotation.

Season Outlook
The A’s are the 2-time defending AL West champions, but continue to be overlooked. The season though hasn’t even started yet and the team is being wrecked by injuries. Still, this team has enough talent and grit to get the job done. No one else in the AL West really stands out, aside from the Angels who can’t seem to get out of their own way.

Prediction
Frankel: 91-71 (1st in AL West)

 
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Posted by on 03/25/2014 in MLB

 

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