The Oakland A’s are getting under way in Phoenix. Pitchers and catchers reported today, although the first Cactus League game for the Oakland A’s doesn’t start until the 26th. While the famous cliché of “preseason doesn’t really count” is mostly true, it’s still the only baseball we have until the season starts. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at how the Oakland A’s will fare in their Cactus League games.
In spring training games, regular players don’t play in games for more than an inning or two until the end draws closer. That usually means teams that aren’t so great but have great farm systems can do very well. Last year the Mariners were at the top of the standing for a quite a while, but when the season came around their highest hopes come September were fighting for 3rd place with an underperforming Angels team. The A’s didn’t start getting close the top until the end drew closer and the starters and regular players started to play more often.
Spring training is often times the time to experiment and see what players go best where, so the A’s won’t be their usual self. They’re going to have guys like Addison Russel getting a lot more at bats and minor leaguers will be doing a lot of the playing while the main players shake off the dust. So what does all of that mean for the A’s standings in the Cactus League?
It means that the Oakland A’s won’t be 1st. They might not even be in the top 5. The Athletics farm system is depleted. Last season the minor leagues had guys like Sonny Gray, Michael Choice, and Grant Green. This season most of the talent is either gone in trades or has already been a part of the big league’s. That means the more talented guys are going to get an inning or two of action and others will take over. This will hurt the A’s in the standings early on. It might end up putting them in a hole from which they can’t get out. Towards the last 10 games or so, the A’s will start to climb up the standings a lot more because the more regular guys will slowly get more and more time playing in the games.
It may not be what A’s fans want to hear. No one likes to hear their team will do bad, but worry not A’s fans! It is only preseason and it will be when Bob Melvin figures out what he can do with all of his guys.
Here is the good news. The A’s will do amazing during the games that count, the real season. Spring Training isn’t their time to shine. It’s their time to put the puzzle pieces in place and get the big picture of how the team will best perform. It is time to figure out who gets to be on the roster and get a good look at future talent. The Oakland A’s time to shine will the 2014 postseason.