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Oakland A’s in 2010: Spring Forward

Although Spring isn’t officially here yet, the Oakland A’s are beaming with confidence and hope. The 2010 A’s should be a more improved club than the ’09 squad that managed to hit .262/.328/.397 and scored 759 runs.

The offseason moves, made by GM Billy Beane, add depth to the infield as well as improve the club defensively. The A’s strengths should be their starting rotation, bullpen and overall defense. The A’s only worry is their offense. There’s a distinct lack of power in the lineup, meaning the A’s will have to rely on their speed and baserunning abilities if they have any chance of scoring runs.

In 2009, the A’s swiped 133 bases, which was 4th in the AL. OF Rajai Davis, who figures to be a catalyst for the A’s offense, stole 41 bases in 125 games last season. Along with Davis, the A’s have OF Coco Crisp, and Cliff Pennington as potential baserunning threats. The A’s will uncharacteristically, try to be more aggressive in 2010, than rather having to wait around for a two run homer.

And because the offense will probably struggle at times against good pitching, the A’s defense will have to keep games close with slick defense and solid pitching. The A’s new 3B, Kevin Kouzmanoff, who is entering his prime, is a very solid defender. Last season for the Padres, Kouzmanoff posted a .990 FPCT in 139 games. Along with Kouzmanoff, the A’s will feature another gold-glove caliber defender in Mark Ellis, who also posted a .990 FPCT in 2009.

However, the A’s six-time gold glove winner, Eric Chavez will not be showcased as a regular defender that he once was. Chavez, who is in his last year of the six year, $66 million contract he signed in 2004, is surprisingly not upset about his new limited role. The limited role will include playing time at first, short, third and possibly the outfield. With less pressure put on Chavez, the gold-glover can focus on getting healthy. If Chavez can stay healthy, when he does play he’ll add some much needed power to the A’s rather powerless lineup. But as always with Chavez,  his health will dictate whether or not he plays in 2010.

When the A’s added All-Star Ben Sheets, they knew what he could bring to a rather young rotation. Sheets, who missed all of the 2009 season will team up with fellow veteran starter, Justin Duchscherer to help lead a young rotation that features Dallas Braden (8-9, 3.89 ERA), Brett Anderson (11-11, 4.06 ERA) and Trevor Cahill (10-13, 4.63 ERA). Brett Anderson, considered by many to be a potential ace, is looking to improve upon his solid rookie campaign. If Anderson can improve, which I think he will, the A’s have a very formidable starting rotation.

2009 ROY, Andrew Bailey, who was considered a long shot to open the season with the A’s last year, will also look to continue his dominance (26 SV, 1.84 ERA). Joined by Michael Wuertz, Brad Zeigler, Craig Breslow and Joey Devine, Bailey and the A’s will showcase an impressive bullpen.

With the A’s surly moving in the right direction, fans in Oakland should forget about last year’s 75 win campaign and look forward to a bright 2010 season.

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