Last season, the San Francisco Giants entered the 2010 campaign with strong starting rotation. They did not have a strong lineup by any means, but the Giants did add a few pieces over the course of the season, and surprised us all with their Championship run.
They won mainly because of their strong pitching, and will enter the 2011 season with their rotation largely intact. Their bay area rivals, however, enter the 2011 season with a strong staff of their own.
The Oakland A’s, who finished in second-place last season, will feature a strong young starting rotation in 2011. Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, and Gio Gonzalez headline the A’s starting rotation, and the team has several options for their fifth starter.
The A’s have some incredible pitching depth, as the team has added guys like Rich Harden, Brandon McCarthy, Grant Balfour, and Brian Fuentes this offseason.
Harden, McCarthy, and Josh Outman are expected to compete for the fifth spot in Oakland’s rotation, while Balfour and Fuentes will likely help set up games for closer Andrew Bailey.
The team has added pieces to the offense, much like the Giants did last season, and the A’s are entering the season with a revamped offensive attack.
By no means is the offense as potent and scary as let’s say the Boston Red Sox, or the New York Yankees, but the A’s are in a position to make up some considerable ground in the American League West.
They finished 9 games behind the Texas Rangers in the West last season, and the A’s would like nothing more to close that gap in 2011.
No one really gave the Giants a chance last season, as most people figured that the Dodgers and Rockies would rule the NL West, but with the strength of their pitching, the Giants surprised us all.
The A’s play in a weakened AL West, and like the Giants, they could end up capturing a division crown thanks to a strong starting rotation.
Certain things will have to fall in place, however, if the A’s are to replicate the type of success their cross-town rivals had last season.
- Firstly, the A’s will have to stay healthy for the year in order to keep pace with the Rangers, and possibly Angels in the AL West.
- Secondly, the A’s young staff will have to continue to mature and develop. Cahill and Gonzalez combined to win 33 games last season for the A’s, and if you throw a healthy Anderson in that mix, the could have another “Big Three” on their hands.
- Finally, the offense will have to find a way to score runs. Last season, the A’s hardly scored, and it showed. The pitching talent is definitely there, all they need is a little support. Matsui, DeJesus, and Willingham should inject some much needed life in a lineup that was mostly life-less last year.
Only time will tell how well the A’s will perform in 2011, but as of right now, the A’s should be beaming with confidence.