With Spring Training right around the corner, many A’s fans are gearing themselves for what promises to be an exciting year of A’s baseball. Oakland enters spring training with a revamped offense as well as an even deeper pitching staff.
We all know defense is what wins championships, but just imagine how good the A’s will be this season if their revamped offense can score some runs this season.
Last year, the A’s finished second in the AL West with an 81-81 (Bob Geren’s first non-losing season), albeit a distant second-place finish. The A’s were nine games out of first at the end of the 2010 regular season behind the eventual AL Pennant winner Texas Rangers.
This year, however, fans are expecting a little more out of the A’s. GM Billy Beane had a very, very productive offseason this year, and he has the A’s in a good position to overtake the Rangers as the division’s top team.
The additions of Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham, and David DeJesus make the A’s offense much better than last season’s squad. Last year, the A’s ranked 28th in baseball with just 109 team home runs. This year, Matsui and Willingham hope to inject some much needed life into the A’s starting lineup.
Defensively, the A’s added bullpen help in the form of Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour, Brandon McCarthy, and Rich Harden. McCarthy and Harden will probably compete for the A’s vacant No.5 rotation spot, but the A’s bullpen will be vastly improved compared to last year’s staff.
The A’s saw 2009-ROY Andrew Bailey fall to an injury last year, but the young closer is figured to be healthy well before Opening Day. The added depth, however, is definitely a nice touch considering the A’s often find themselves in the trainer’s room.
One reason why the A’s will be considered a dark-horse to win the AL West in 2011 is the strength of their starting pitching. Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Braden, and possibly Harden make for a very impressive starting five.
Cahill, Anderson, and Gonzalez could in fact, be the A’s new “Big Three.”
Add to that a strong group of defensive players to back the pitching up, and you have yourself a very respectable team. The offense remains the team’s most pressing question heading into spring training, but the A’s are without a doubt an improved ball-club.
On a side note, tomorrow will mark my 1-year with the FanSided Network as the site’s A’s Lead Writer. I am looking forward to continue building Swingin’ A’s up as a respectable source for all A’s-related news. Thanks for your continued support! Go Oakland!