With Spring Training now underway for some clubs, baseball fans all around the world can rejoice over the fact that baseball is finally back.
For A’s fans, it couldn’t come any sooner.
The A’s have had themselves quite the offseason, and many fans in Oakland are buzzing about the team’s chances at reaching the postseason in 2011. The offense is upgraded, and the pitching staff is stellar and deep. This team is without a doubt, manager Bob Geren’s best assembled squad since he took over in 2007.
General Manager Billy Beane added some pieces on offense like Hideki Matsui, David DeJesus, and Josh Willingham. He also bolstered the pitching staff by adding guys like Rich Harden, Brandon McCarthy, Grant Balfour, and Brian Fuentes. The A’s were aggressive in their approach to upgrade a team that went 81-81 in 2010 and finished second in the AL West.
The moves should pay off. Big time.
This spring should be interesting to see unfold, especially since there should be plenty of juicy story lines to choose from.
The A’s enter 2011 with a very packed and somewhat overcrowded outfield. Oakland has Chris Carter, Connor Jackson, Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, and Ryan Sweeney as part of their outfield plans this spring.
Carter, who seen a little bit of major league pitching near the end of last season, was regarded as Oakland’s top prospect in 2010, but his future is somewhat unclear.
The A’s simply don’t have enough room or playing time to cater to all of those aforementioned outfielders, and as a result, Carter could end up starting the season with Triple-A Sacramento.
Sweeney, who has been a solid defender and a consistent hitter, will also likely see his playing time cut this season. The A’s added DeJesus, who figures to be the team’s starting right-fielder.
Jackson, who spent a majority of 2010 injured, will also likely be reduced to a bench-player in 2011.
Meaning, the A’s will likely open the season with a Willingham-Crisp-DeJesus outfield.
Willingham, who came over in the trade with Washington, should prove to be a great addition for Oakland. He’ll likely hit anywhere from 15-20 home runs with 70-80 RBIs, while provided solid defense in the outfield. For a team that had very little power in 2010, Willingham is a welcomed addition for Oakland.
Crisp, who hit .279/.342/.438 with 8 HR and 38 RBIs, should hit near the top of Oakland’s lineup this season, and should again prove valuable in the outfield. If he can stay healthy, that is.
As for DeJesus, I’m not entirely sure he’s a major upgrade over Sweeney, who has been an excellent defender in the outfield for Oakland. DeJesus, who has had his share of injuries in the past, should hit for a decent average, but don’t expect a ton of homers out of the guy.
The A’s have a ton of depth this season, and that should prove beneficial especially for an oft-injured team like the A’s. It will definitely be interesting how Geren decides to handle all of this new talent this year.