Thursday, March 29, 2012

Oakland Athletics Preview/Prediction

2-0!! 2-0!! 2-0!!

Our next post takes us to the Bay Area, where they are already two games into the season.  They have high hopes for a certain Cuban defector, but who else on this team is worth getting excited about?  Let's take a look!

Infield: Kurt Suzuki at catcher, Brandon Allen at first base, Jemile Weeks at second base, Cliff Pennington at shortstop, and Josh Donaldson at third base.

Kurt Suzuki had a great 2009, and has been terrible ever since.  He has hit around .240 the last two years, and he doesn't take many walks.  He does have some power, and catcher is not usually a position you rely on for a bunch of offense, so take that for what you will.  Brandon Allen has played 108 career games and has 130 career strike outs.  He also is a career .207 hitter in those 108 games.  He does have a lot of power though and he walks quite a bit too.  Basically whenever he comes up to bat it will be a walk, home run or strike out.  With a .207 average expect a lot of the last one.  Jemile Weeks is a player I am excited to see.  He hit .300 last year and stole 23 bases, although he was caught 12 times.  He also hit 8 triples in only 99 games.  The kid can flat out scoot around those bases, and it wouldn't be a stretch to see him get to 12-15 triples and 45-50 stolen bases this year.  Cliff Pennington has been the starter for Oakland the last two years.  He has been very average these last two years and I don't expect that to change at all this year.  Another season of hitting around .260 with very little pop and some stolen bases sprinkled in.  Not terrible numbers but nothing that will make you jump out of your seat when he is up to bat.  I don't really have a lot to go on with Donaldson as he has only played in 15 games in his major league career.  The reason why he is the starter is because Scott Sizemore got injured before the season began.  He does have some power though so I'm going to guess about a .240 average with 18 home runs.  Decent numbers for a kid in his first year, and hopefully he can make the jump in year 2.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Hitting out of the lead off spot, Jemile Weeks will continue to torture teams with his speed.  He won't hit for any power at all, but he will wreak havoc on the bases and will draw the attention away from the batter whenever he is on first.  He will have the best season of these five.

Outfield: Coco Crisp in left field, Yoenis Cespedes in center field, and Josh Reddick in right field.

Coco Crisp moves over from center field to left field, and that should help him stay healthy as he won't be running down flyballs as much anymore.  When healthy the guy will challenge Weeks for the team stolen base crown, as he stole 49 of them last year, leading the league.  Cespedes surprised everyone in signing with Oakland this year, and surprised again when he was the opening day center fielder for the club.  He will still strike out a ton, but he does have humongous power.  I still think he will either get optioned to Triple A at some point this season, or have 200 strikeouts.  One of the two will happen.  Reddick came over from the Red Sox in the trade for Andrew Bailey, and in him the Athletics got a career .248 hitter.  He does have a nice left handed swing, he just needs to be more patient at the plate.  If he can cut down on his strike outs and put the ball in play, I think he will be a nice addition for this team.

Who will have the best season of these guys? I think Cespedes will get sent down this season, so I am going to go with Coco.  He will hit around .280 and be close to the American League lead in steals.  Those facts plus 80 runs scored will mean he will have the best season of the three.

Starting Pitching: Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, Tyson Ross, Tommy Milone, and Graham Godfrey.

McCarthy is a big kid at 6 foot 7 and has good stuff, the poor guy just can't stay healthy.  Last year he started 25 games, which is the most he has started in his career.  They are pretty serious injuries too, all of them being elbow and shoulder related.  When healthy he is a ground ball machine, and has the potential to be a very good starter, but until he actually goes a full season I am not committing anything to him.  Bartolo Colon is a 5 foot 11 267 pound bowling ball of a man who can still get hitters out.  I don't know how he does it, but he still can be very effective.  Last year he had 26 very effective starts for the Yankees, and while I don't think he will be as effective this year he obviously still has some juice in the tank, which is impressive in its own right.  Tyson Ross made 6 starts last year and had a very impressive 2.75 ERA.  The only thing this kid is lacking is experience, and I think he will be one of the break out stars in all of baseball for the 2012 season.  If Oakland monitors his innings correctly, this will be the first year of many good ones from him.  Tommy Milone was acquired from Washington in the Gio Gonzalez trade, and steps into the starting rotation on day one.  He has great command of the strike zone, and in a big park like Oakland's will make sure to pitch to his defense.  I think Milone will be a good pitcher for the Athletics, not really overpowering, but enough moxie and grit to get by.  Graham Godfrey is a good story.  He was a 34th round pick in 2006, and somehow has made it to the big leagues.  Always nice hearing stories like that.  However he has given up 32 hits in 25 innings and opponents are batting .302 against him in 5 career starts.  Maybe there was a reason he was a 34th round pick.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Since I don't think Colon or McCarthy makes it through the entire season I am going to go with Tyson Ross.  I think he will get 10-13 wins and have an ERA in the 3.8 range.  He will also get over 150 strikeouts and with numbers like that Ross gets the nod for best starting pitcher on this squad.  

Bullpen:  Grant Balfour, Brian Fuentes, Fautino De Los Santos, and Jerry Blevins

Grant Balfour gets his first chance to be a closer and I think he will do just fine.  Watching him sling it in Tampa Bay, I knew it was only a matter of time before he gets his shot. I think he will get to 30 saves, and i think he will have a good ERA doing it.  Pitching his home games in this cavernous park will definitely not hurt him either.  Brian Fuentes has been a closer before, and he has 199 saves to prove it.  He doesn't have the same stuff that Balfour has though, and that is why he is relegated to 8th inning duty this year.  If Balfour gets injured expect Fuentes to come in and close, but I think Balfour makes it through the season, and Fuentes will be just another left hander with a really weird windup and pretty good numbers.  De Los Santos  struck out 43 batters in just 33 innings last year.  He will be with Oakland all year long, and will be the closer of the future.  He still needs to cut down on his walks, but he has electric stuff.  Jerry Blevins is a left handed reliever who has a career 3.73 ERA.  That makes him one of the few left handers that actually gets guys out on a consistent basis.  He averages almost a strike out an inning for his career, so he obviously has the stuff too.  Good to see a lefty that can actually get people out, and not be on a roster just because they are left handed.  

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Balfour will have the best season.  It wouldn't surprise me at all if he is the all-star for this team.  Like I said above, he will get to 30 saves, and give you the feeling that he is going to let leads slip away.  The crazy Aussie will lay the hammer down when he comes in.

Record: 70-92, fourth in the American League West

Next up:  Philadelphia Phillies

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