The highlight of 2011 for Oakland was Moneyball earning several Oscar nominations. On the field, the A’s were disappointing, as many people expected them to compete in the AL West. Instead, they slumped to just 74 wins. The pitching was outstanding. The offense was woeful. They tried to make some moves to get better offensively, but they did not really add any players of impact (no, Manny Ramirez is not an impact player). This has a lot to do with the operating cost of the A’s, which they keep low due to lack of revenue. This brings up a bigger issue, when will the stadium and territory rights with the Giants be straightened out? The A’s are seeking to build a new stadium in San Jose, but that territory “belongs” to the Giants. Hopefully soon, Bud Selig will step in and appease the Giants owner in a similar fashion to how Selig handled Peter Angelos (Orioles owner) when the Expos relocated to DC.
But I digress. The A’s key addition is outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, a free agent from Cuba. The A’s paid a hefty price for the unproven talent. He might end up being a bust. But there’s some potential for a nice leadoff hitter as well. The A’s also added outfielder Josh Reddick, who they acquired by trading Andrew Bailey to Boston. Oh, and they added Manny. Who cares. These additions are okay, but they are not going to change the ineptitude of the offense. Jemile Weeks had a nice rookie campaign, but he’s the only player in the everyday lineup (with the exception of Cespedes) with upside. Simply put, this lineup severely lacks impact bats. They have nothing close to a middle of the order bat, so unless the pitching is astronomically better, this team will struggle.
The pitching is not astronomically better though. The A’s best pitcher, Brett Anderson, went under the knife for Tommy John surgery last summer. When he returns, the expectations need to be tempered. It usually takes a full year after coming back before pitchers get back to themselves. Additionally, Oakland shipped off Trevor Cahill this offseason. In the process, they picked up Jarrod Parker. He should be a solid part of the rotation for years to come, but this will be his first full season. The A’s are going to rely heavily on Brandon McCarthy, who had a great 2011, and Bartolo Colon. McCarthy was highly touted for years, but injuries subdued him for several seasons in Texas. Colon, who was out of baseball, reemerged last year with the Yankees. He faded down the second half, so it will be interesting to see if he can replicate last season. I’m guessing not.
Crappy offense, mediocre pitching, and a division