30 Teams in 30 Days: Oakland Athletics Preview


General Manager: William Lamar (“Billy!”) Beane (since 1997)
Manager: Bob Geren (since 2007)

Gains: Ben Sheets, Coco Crisp, Gabe Gross, Jake Fox, Michael Taylor, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Eric Sogard, Steve Tolleson, Adam Rosales

Losses: Adam Kennedy, Bobby Crosby, Scott Hairston, Aaron Cunningham, Jeff Gray, Matt Spencer, Ronny Morla, Nomar Garciaparra, Edgar Gonzalez, Santiago Casilla, Dana Eveland, Kevin Cameron, Jay Marshall, Tommy Everidge, Brett Wallace

Minor League Deals: Lenny DiNardo, Marcus McBeth, Brett Tomko, Dan Giese, Dallas McPherson, Jason Jennings

Projected Starting Lineup :
Rajai Davis – LF
Coco Crisp – CF
Kurt Suzuki – C
Jack Cust – DH
Kevin Kouzmanoff – 3B
Ryan Sweeney – RF
Mark Ellis – 2B
Daric Barton – 1B
Adam Rosales – SS

Projected Starting Rotation :
Ben Sheets
Justin Duchscherer
Dallas Braden
Brett Anderson
Trevor Cahill/Gio Gonzalez

Projected Bullpen:
Andrew Bailey (Closer)
Michael Wuertz
Brad Ziegler
Jerry Blevins
Craig Breslow
Tyson Ross
Brad Kilby

The A’s WILL make the playoffs if: The middle of the A’s lineup channels the heart, spirit and mysterious elixirs that helped the Oakland teams of the “Bash Brothers” era hit so many home runs…SPs Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer can throw 350 combined, effective innings – a cumulative mark they’ve never achieved in the big leagues …The bullpen – which has been hit hard by the injury bug in recent weeks – can continue to perform at an All-Star level on the front end and a quietly effective Gene Nelson/Rick Honeycutt level at the back end.

The A’s WON’T make the playoffs if: The projected 3-4 hitters fail to take a quantum leap forward at the plate (Suzuki, career OPS: .727) or halt a precipitous decline (Cust, OPS last three season: .912, .851, .773)…The youngsters in the starting rotation cannot step up and fill the expected health voids created by Sheets and Duchscherer…Regression hits the bullpen’s most effective performers (Andrew Bailey, Michael Wuertz) from 2009.

Over/Under (78): For the second consecutive year, Oakland’s boy-genius GM Billy Beane is attempting to field a contender around a team that should be rebuilding. They’ve potentially improved their run prevention as a team, but the A’s offense is still devoid of the punch needed to contend in the American League. Even with the continued maturation of Oakland young starting pitchers, it’ll be a challenge to reach last year’s total of 75 wins. Take the UNDER.

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