Oct 5, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics catcherStephen Vogt
(21) is surrounded by teammates celebrating after hitting an RBI single for the walk off win against the Detroit Tigers in game two of the American League divisional series playoff baseball game at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Detroit Tigers 1-0 with a walk off win. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The World Series has come and gone, and now the baseball season is officially over. All of the talk in the coming months will be about which free agent will sign where, and which teams are built to make a championship run, so let’s start that conversation.
The Oakland Athletics made moves in 2014 that showed they were going for glory. Alas, it was not in the cards for the A’s this season, but how close were they? Well, the team that beat them, on bloop hits and a little bit of luck, swept their way into the World Series and wound up with the tying run ninety feet away in the bottom of the ninth.
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Of course the landscape in baseball will change dramatically in the coming months with free agents signing big contracts, but the fact remains that the Oakland Athletics could have been just one player away from switching spots with Kansas City. If all of Oakland’s catchers had not been injured, or banged up, there is a good chance that Oakland pulls off a victory in the Wild Card game.
With Jon Lester gone, the A’s once again lack an “ace”. I’m betting Sonny Gray steps right into that role in 2015. They have the starting pitching to compete. Now it’s just a matter of if they can improve their defense, and get a clutch hitter.
Josh Donaldson showed he has a knack for clutch hits in 2014, showing off his walk-off abilities. Brandon Moss had a monster Wild Card game as well. The two of them clicking could be enough to run Oakland through the playoffs. Those two, coupled with Gray makes three. As we just witnessed, the San Francisco Giants just won a title with one player.
The key in 2015, assuming the team stays largely intact, will be health. The A’s have had a hard time staying healthy in recent years, and the team that is on the field in the playoffs has generally not been the one that does damage in the regular season.
Shoring up the defense should be the top priority this season, though. While it isn’t the flashiest move, it can sure change the outcome of a game, especially in the playoffs.
The A’s could be an upgrade on defense and a solid reliever away from competing again in 2015. Well, that, and ninety feet.