2008 Oakland Athletics Baseball Preview
The Oakland Athletics (76- 86) declined greatly last season, going from having won the AL West in 2006 to finishing 18 games out in 2007. Expect the team to finish far out of the money again this season.
The rotation is problematic, while the bullpen is better than average. Starter Rich Harden (1- 2, 2.45 ERA, 27 SO), who offers three sound pitches, is injury prone. Three righties, Joe Blanton (14- 10, 3.96 ERA, 140 SO), Chad Gaudin (11- 13, 4.42 ERA, 154 SO) and Justin Duchscherer (3- 3, 4.96 ERA, 13 SO) and lefty Lenny Dinardo (8- 10, 4.11 ERA, 59 SO) fill out the rotation. Blanton has a range of pitches and a big body, while Gaudin needs to find consistency. Duchscherer, who’s coming off surgery, throws solid strikes. Control pitcher Dinardo must be on target to succeed. If healthy, closer Huston Street (5- 2, 2.88 ERA, 63 SO) can shut down hitters at will.
Although the A’s were sixth in OB% and seventh in homeruns, they were near last in every other offensive category. SS Bobby Crosby (.226 BA, 8 HR, 31 RBI), a former Rookie of the Year, has been haunted by injuries the past three seasons. 3B Eric Chavez (.240 BA, 15 HR, 46 RBI) has also been injury prone, which has stifled his output. 2B Mark Ellis (.276 BA, 19 HR, 76 RBI) is a cagey, effective hitter. 1B/DH Dan Johnson (.236 BA, 18 HR, 77 SO) hit only .200 with runners in scoring position. Young LF Travis Buck (.288 BA, 7 HR, 34 RBI) possesses huge potential.
Poor double play potential but overall good fielding define Oakland’s defense. The outfield is deficient. Second and short are sound, while the corners are limited.
GM Billy Beane made some good but not great deals in the off-season, and he’ll continue to trade and develop the farm. But the man who wrote the book on baseball may need to rewrite that book. Manager Bob Geren, who replaced Ken Macha last season, needs to be a better disciplinarian.
For more info on Oakland check out the MLB website for the Athletics Clubhouse.