With the 2010 season just months away, the Oakland A’s are heading into Spring Training with a new look infield as well as an improved starting rotation.
Oakland A’s GM, Billy Beane addressed several areas of need this offseason by adding 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (.255/.302/.420, 15 HR, 88 RBI), CF Coco Crisp and IF Jake Fox (.259/.311/.468, 11 HR, 44 RBI). With Kouzmanoff the A’s addressed their need for an everyday third-baseman with potential to hit for some power.
Aside from the offensive production each player should bring for the A’s, their defense will be most critical. The A’s seemed to shift their focus this offseason to defense rather than finding a big bat to solidify their lineup.
And without a big power presence in the lineup, the A’s will have to rely on the gloves of Kouzmanoff, Mark Ellis and Ryan Sweeney in order to keep games close. Defensively, the A’s should be a good team.
Along with their defensive-savvy infield, the A’s should boast a good starting rotation. The A’s resigned Justin Duchscherer, who in 2008 won 10 games and had an ERA of 2.54. The A’s also dished out $10 million, plus incentives to Ben Sheets, who missed all of the ’09 season.
So, it’s easy to say that the A’s are placing a lot of faith in their two veteran leaders. When healthy, both Sheets and Duchscherer can perform on a high level. With the addition of Sheets, the A’s front four starters should look like this: Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, Dallas Braden (8-9, 3.89 ERA) and Brett Anderson (11-11, 4.06 ERA). Possible candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation include Trevor Cahill (10-13, 4.63 ERA), Gio Gonzalez (6-7, 5.75 ERA) and Vin Mazzaro (4-9, 5.32 ERA).
Needless to say, the A’s will have a pretty formidable rotation if everyone manages to stay healthy.
If the A’s have one strength heading into the 2010 season, it’s their bullpen. The A’s defense and starting pitching should keep them competitive and should put them in a spot to where their bullpen can close out games. Led by AL ROY, Andrew Bailey (26 SV, 1.84 ERA) the A’s bullpen is absolutely phenomenal. Guys like Michael Wuertz (2.63 ERA), Brad Ziegler (3.07 ERA), Craig Breslow (3.36 ERA) and Joey Devine (0.50 ERA in 2008) make the A’s bullpen a nightmare for opposing offenses.
Despite their lack of powerful bats in the lineup, the A’s focus on pitching and defense should keep them competitive in the tough AL West Division in 2010.