Oakland Athletics: Offseason Assessment

4 of 4

Question Marks Heading in to 2015

Sep 26, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp (4) scores during the third inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

There are three big questions going in to 2015 for the Oakland Athletics. The first: When will Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin return from Tommy John surgery, and will they be effective when they do?

If all goes well, and the A’s catch a break, both pitchers could be solid additions to the rotation in 2015. Heading in to 2014, Parker was supposed to be the ace, while Sonny Gray developed in his first full season. Gray, in my mind, is the ace of the staff, regardless of if Jeff Samardzija is around.

Again, if Parker is healthy, or the training staff has a good feel on him, Samardzija becomes expendable, and the A’s could use him to acquire another one of their needs.

The second question also relates to the pitching staff: Which Scott Kazmir will show up in 2015? Before the All-Star break, Kazmir had put up a 2.38 ERA, and an 11-3 record. After the break, Kaz went 4-6 with a 5.42 ERA. He had some good outings in the second half, but was also rocked a few times.

The best-case scenario for the Oakland Athletics is if Kazmir was suffering from some dead arm late in the season, due to his biggest workload since 2007. Hopefully in 2015, his left arm will be better conditioned for the workload, and he will have a season filled with his first half numbers.

The last question could be the hardest to answer and the biggest hole to fill: Is Coco Crisp on the decline? Yes, Coco was battling injuries all season, and even adjusted his swing so that he could play, but Crisp is an injury risk every season. He plays great defense, and when on a roll, can ignite the entire offense.

That said, Crisp hit just .191 in the second half of 2014, a full one hundred points below his first half average. If Coco is on the decline, or is still feeling the affects of his neck injury, the Oakland Athletics need to find a suitable fill-in. While Gentry is nice, he too was injured a fair amount in 2014, playing in just 94 games. He didn’t miss all of those games due to injury, but I am not sure that he is an every day player. He’s called the “best fourth outfielder in baseball” for a reason.

That’s it. That’s the assessment. Do you agree? Disagree? How do you suggest the Oakland Athletics improve for next season, or will it be a dreaded rebuilding year?