With the first game slated to start on Sunday Feb. 27 against the Chicago Cubs nears, I thought it would be a great idea to take a look at the team and whether they are ready to be a major contender in the 2011 season. I believe that there is definitely a reason to be excited about this season’s team and am confident that they will be ready to be playoff contenders.
A’s general manager Billy Beane has put together a team that has both experience and athleticism, worthy of clinching an AL West title. Reporter Bob Shaiken from the Los Angeles time is willing to put money on it when he wrote what to expect from the Spring Training Cactus League this year. He says, “take a side trip to Las Vegas and bet on whether the Oakland Athletics will post their first winning record in five years.”
There seems to be an agreement within the A’s organization as well. Beane has worked feverishly since 2007 to rebuild the team by getting rid of then A’s pitcher Dan Haren by sending him to the Diamondbacks. Even though Haren was having one of his best season that year with an ERA of 3.07 and 192 strikeouts.
A’s manager Bob Geren also agrees that the team is at the top of it’s caliber, even with all of the injuries. He is quoted in the the San Jose Mercury News saying, “The talent level we’ve had in the past has been very good, we’ve just been sidetracked by injuries. This year, if a few guys get hurt, we have some great options to fill in. I feel like this is the deepest most talented team that we’ve had.
Both Bean and Geren along with reporters and fans may also come to a consensus that it was all of the off season changes that were made the could make the difference. The offense has been “beefed up” with DH Hidecki Matsui, this move was a good one because Matsui, averaged 20 homers and 85 RBIs over eight big-league seasons, plus he is a .290 career hitter. The signings of both Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour as Relief Pitchers was important because now this makes the team one of the AL’s top starting rotation to come out in a long time.
Speaking of great pitching there is also the dilemma of who will fill the coveted 5th starting spot. All eyes are on both Rich Harden who is starting his second year with the team and Josh Outman. Outman missed prior seasons because of surgery on his elbow. He is now on healthy status which will make it difficult for management to decide who will fill that spot.
Third baseman, Kevin Kouzmanoff is also going to come back better than ever, last year he hit 16 homers contributing to their 81-81 record. New comer Josh Willingham had three 20-homers seasons with both the Marlins and Nationals and will bring that record along with him to Oakland. Let’s not also forget David DeJesus. DeJesus will be positioned in right field and he has a career high of 13 homers making him a possible No. 3 hitter.
It will remain to be seen if these newcomers will do well with the A’s. I think the most important subject that the team needs to focus on is impending injuires and the state of health of each of the players. Fans know all to well that injuries have plagued this team like a bad flu. If they can just keep their player on the field and off of the DL, then they have a good chance of becoming that championship team of days gone by.
Tags: 2011 Season A's 2011 Preview A's Blog A's Lineup A's Pitching Bob Geren David DeJesus General Manager Billy Beane Hideki Matsui Josh Outman Josh Willingham Oakland A's Oakland Athletics Rich Harden Spring Training The Cactus League