2009 Oakland Athletics Baseball Preview
Last season, the Oakland Athletics (75- 86) finished third in the AL West, 24.5 games out of first. It was definitely a year that left a lot to be desired. So much so, that GM Billy Beane decided to trade a bunch of players, including two pitchers, to the Rockies for slugger Matt Holliday. You see the A's scored the fewest runs of any American League team last year—646.
Number one starter Justin Duchscherer (10- 8 W/L, 2.54 ERA, .210 BAA), who focuses on being a control pitcher, has a bunch of fastballs, curves, cutters and changeups. He had a tough season last year due to an arthritic hip. Former Chicago starter Sean Gallagher (5 -7 W/L, 5.15 ERA, .263 BAA) has four pitches with the primary one being his 90- 93 mph fastball. Two southpaws fill the three and four spots. Dana Eveland (9-9 W/L, 4.34 ERA, .269 BAA) throws a fastball that tails away and a slider, curve and changeup, all of which show good movement. Dallas Braden's (5- 4 W/L, 4.14 ERA, .284 BAA) delivery is deceptive. He's a finesse guy who must be right on target to win. The bullpen is sketchy with Brad Ziegler or Joey Devine looking to be the closer.
Matt Holliday (.321 BA, 88 RBI, 25 HR) brings a homerun swing and RBI potential. If he's in the fourth spot, then DH Jason Giambi (.247 BA, 96 RBI, 32 HR), who can still smack it out of the park, will bat in front of him. Daric Barton (.226 BA, 47 RBI, 9 HR), Mark Ellis (.233 BA, 41 RBI, 12 HR), Travis Buck (.226 BA, 25 RBI, 7 HR) and Eric Chavez (.247 BA, 14 RBI, 2 HR) are all coming off of an injury filled season. If healthy, each can contribute. This is still not the strongest hitting team but Holliday and Giambi will help generate more runs.
In the field, third baseman Chavez throws some of the best leather in the league, while at the other corner, Barton offers fine hands, agility and smarts. Ellis still plays a fine second, despite his age, and Bobby Crosby at short shows good range and a fine arm. Catcher Kurt Suzuki moves well behind the plate, has a strong, accurate arm and calls good game. In the outfield, Ryan Sweeney is versatile enough to play any field. Holliday in left and Buck in right are both adequate, but they have their struggles.
General Manager Billy Beane wrote the book, literally, on one way to systematically create a winner. Over the years, Beane has been a master at bringing together talented contenders. However, his teams tend to fall short when it comes to the post-season. Manager Bob Geren has been on board for two years and has a 151- 172 record.
Oakland possesses a deep farm system, some hitting, a lot of talented young players and solid management. This missing link is the pitching staff. There are question marks and weaknesses. The A's should do better than they did last season and if the young guys can come through, they could threaten to take the West title.
For more info on Oakland check out the MLB website for the Athletics Clubhouse.