Sunday, April 5, 2009

30 A's in 30 Days – 2009 Oakland A's Prediction

Offense - This was a terrible offensive team last year and I'm not entirely convinced that all of their local-media-approved "improvements" are going to help. Anonymous All-Star Matt Holliday has the onus of proving his career-long Shane Victorino-esque numbers away from Coors Field can be improved enough to justify his spot in the middle of the order. Elsewhere, this lineup is pocked with aging stars in obvious decline; a few certain disabled list visits; and some best-case-scenario league average production.

Defense - The A's have fielded some of the better defensive units in the league over the last few years and most projections have them in the top half this year, too. The keystone combo of Mark Ellis and Orlando Cabrera should be fun to watch and catcher Kurt Suzuki is a…uh…what's the politically correct way to say "kamikaze behind the plate who's unafraid of collisions and calls a good game"? Ryan Sweeney is a bit stretched in center, but at least the Jack Cust Experience in RF appears to have run its course.

Starting Pitching - A few days ago, I heard a comparison of this staff to the one fielded by the 1989-90 Atlanta Braves. 20 years ago, the Braves let their abundance of young talent take their lumps in front of a bad offense (and worse defense). In the end, that on-the-job training allowed Atlanta to find the gems (Glavine, Smoltz, Avery) and weed out the non-talent (Pete Smith, Derek Lilliquist). Same thing here, as our kid pitchers are at least a year away.

Bullpen - Oakland's projected closer, Joey Devine, was put on the 60-day DL and is expected to need ligament replacement surgery. This is a ginormous blow, because it forces the overrated Brad Ziegler into the closer's role and scrambles the remaining relievers' responsibilities.

Prediction - 75-87, 3rd place.

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