Can A’s Stay Out of Doghouse in 2015?

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The American League West has been improving year-by-year it seems and with all the A’s transactions, it brings up the question: Can the A’s compete and stay out of the AL West cellar in 2015?

The A’s traded away multiple all-stars, lost one of their best relief pitchers and also lost Daric Barton. I mean, really, do we even have a chance? But on a more serious note, the Houston Astros are improving little by little and with their young talent they look to take the next steps this season, the Texas Rangers are hoping to bounce back this year with players like Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo returning, the Seattle Mariners continue to cash out on top-tier talent, most recently signing Nelson Cruz, and the Los Angeles Angels, the defending AL West champs, are returning the majority of their roster.

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The A’s are coming off a 2014 season in which they choked away the best record in the league to barely snag the second Wild Card spot, only to fall in the play-in game.

The A’s still boast a lineup with some speed in Craig Gentry, Sam Fuld and an aging Coco Crisp, gold glove outfielder in Josh Reddick who found his swing at the end of the season and strongholds like Derek Norris at the catcher position and strong pitchers like Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir to lead the rotation.

Players like Marcus Semien and Brett Lawrie are going to bring their youth to the lineup, but also their potential. Both have seen minimal time in the majors, but are primed to start for the club. Semien will be taking over for Jed Lowrie, who jolted to Houston and Lawrie was swapped for Josh Donaldson in a sense.

While the A’s clearly lost some power in the middle of their lineup, there’s still time for the club to add. But with Billy Butler being added already and the blockbuster trades that sent fan-favorites away, don’t expect Billy Beane to make any drastic moves since he has his base set.

The pitching staff, though, is where the A’s season will hinge upon. Gray is going to need to play at his highest of potential, while the A’s can’t afford another Kazmir late-season collapse. The back-end of the rotation is still up for grabs, but the fog should clear in the coming months regarding that. Beane seems to always find fill-in talent in starting pitchers and this season will probably be no different.

It will be a tough uphill battle to climb in a sense, since other lineups, on paper, look more threatening, but if there’s one thing the A’s have proven it’s that on-field production is what truly matters. A lot of games to play, a little bit of A’s magic and who knows if this team can once again turn doubters into believers.

Next: Our Interview with New A's Pitcher, Chris Bassitt

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