The A’s addressed a few of their glaring problems on offense this offseason, and they also managed to strengthen their already strong pitching staff. Heading into the season, however, many fans (including myself) like to look at the team and predict what kind of year they’ll have. It’s both fun, and educational.
Oakland signed DH Hideki Matsui to a one-year deal this offseason, and the team is optimistic that “Godzilla” will stay healthy enough to help the A’s offensively in 2011. Matsui, 36, however, has been on the decline for some time now.
He hit .274 with 21 HR and 74 RBIs last year for the Angels, but those numbers were down from 2009 numbers, where he hit 28 HR and drove in 90 runs while with the Yankees.
Coming to the cavernous Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, a pitcher-friendly park, could have an effect on the aging Matsui this year. He’s not getting any younger, but Oakland views him as an upgrade over Jack Cust, the team’s former DH.
I would expect Matsui’s numbers to drop, although not significantly. The A’s needed pop, and they definitely added it with Matsui on board. But with age and a new stadium in the mix, it’s probably safe to say that Matsui’s numbers will probably continue to decline. Nonetheless, he’s still an upgrade for Oakland’s offense.
Josh Willingham, who was acquired in the trade with the Nationals, will be making his Oakland debut this season in the A’s crowded outfield. The A’s plan to use Willingham as one of their starting outfielders, but what kind of impact he will make on offense will depend solely on how well he adjusts to things in the American League.
After spending his career in the National League, Willingham will have to make the switch to the AL, much like 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff did last season for Oakland.
Willingham’s numbers, as a result, could ultimately take a hit in 2011. Not only will he have to deal with the new pitchers in the American League, but he’ll have to adjust to the Coliseum as well. Willingham does bring some power to the lineup, as he blasted 16 homers last year, but we’ll have to wait and see how well he can hit in the spacious Coliseum.
Like Matsui, however, Willingham is a welcomed addition to the offense.
Finally, there’s David DeJesus, who was added to the team in the Vin Mazzaro deal with Kansas City. DeJesus, another of Oakland’s projected outfield starters, has a .250 career average at the Coliseum (21-for-84). His .689 OPS is even less impressive, but the A’s must’ve seen something in DeJesus since they traded away Mazzaro.
DeJesus doesn’t have much power, but the team is optimistic that he’ll adjust to the Coliseum and find a way to get on base to give the team a chance to score.
The A’s did their best this offseason considering they were passed up by some very talented free agents (Adrian Beltre, anyone?), and the team should have a good 2011 campaign. Hopefully, the newest A’s will find a way to adjust to the Coliseum and put some points on the board.