Entering the 2011 season, the Oakland A’s are highly optimistic about their chances in competing in the American League West this season. And while they have every reason in the world to be optimistic, manager Bob Geren has yet to prove he’s capable of leading a team into the postseason.
Geren, who took over following Ken Macha’s dismissal after the 2006 season, has yet to post a winning record in his last four seasons as manager. The A’s, however, are hoping that their skipper can lead the team into the postseason this year.
After all, fifth time is the charm, right?
The A’s are entering the season with a revamped lineup, one that includes Hideki Matsui, David DeJesus, and Josh Willingham, as well as a stellar cast of pitchers.
The offense still lacks a big power bat, but the A’s are confident that they’ll be able to push more runs across the board now that “Godzilla” (Matsui) will be in the lineup. At 36, Matsui should still bring some power to the lineup, something Geren hasn’t had in a while.
Pitching-wise, however, the A’s are gold. The team added guys like Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes to solidify their bullpen, and have kept their stellar rotation largely intact for this season. Pitching and defense will definitely be a strength for Oakland in 2011, but Geren still needs to prove—in my mind at least—that he knows how to use his bullpen in tough situations.
Injuries have really killed the A’s in recent years, as players often found themselves in the trainer’s room rather than out on the field. This season has to be different if the A’s are to have any chance at pushing past Texas in the AL West.
Beane’s efforts to add depth, however, should prove to be advantageous for the A’s in 2011. The A’s have several highly-qualified fifth-starter candidates to choose from (Rich Harden, Josh Outman, Bobby Cramer, Brandon McCarthy), and the team also has Ryan Sweeney and Connor Jackson off the bench.
This year will be an extremely crucial one for Geren, as the A’s are hungry for a postseason appearance. If the team should fail to make it past the regular season, I’m sure the front office will be re-evaluating their coaching situation.
Geren is not among the most popular managers in the game, as I will say I’m not a huge fan of his, but 2011 could be Geren’s opportunity to change the minds of his skeptics.
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