OAKLAND A’S (AL WEST)
2013 record: 96-66 (first, 5.5 GB)
Projected 2014: 89
World Series odds: 16/1
Key additions: Jim Johnson, Alberto Callaspo
X factor: Y. Cespedes
Projected starting lineup: Infield: C – D. Norris; 1B – B. Moss; 2B – A. Callaspo; 3B J. Donaldson; SS – J. Lowrie. Outfield: LF – Y. Espedes; CF – C. Crisp; RF J. Reddick.
Designated hitter: J. Jaso
Starting rotation: S. Gray, S. Kazmir, D. Straily, T. Milone, J. Chavez.
Closer: J. Johnson
The last two years have been pretty A-mazing in Oakland, but “Moneyball” may have cashed in the chips early with the loss to ace Jarrod Parker to season ending Tommy John shoulder surgery.
The A’s won the West last year by 5½ games a 96-66, a remarkable feat considering the Texas Rangers went to two World Series and the Los Angeles Angels own arguably the most talented team in the majors led by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
And now Seattle may become a player with the addition of Robinson Cano. No, the Parker injury just may have brought reality to the storybook rise of the A’s that just adds to the legend of GM Billy Beane making the most out of a limited budget.
And that budget will soon be tested. Check this spring training report from the Oakland Tribune.
“The A’s have usually operated on three-or four-year cycles, and it has been a little over two years since the last housecleaning (trading Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey in December 2011).
With the A’s budget restrictions, at what point will Beane feel compelled to jump ahead of the curve by breaking up the current core?
Josh Donaldson, Cook and Josh Reddick all become arbitration eligible after this season and, as always, the A’s have some prime young talent coming up – led by 20-year-old shortstop Addison Russell.”
Parker now joins A.J. Griffin on the shelf so Bean is setting up a counterattack by stacking a bullpen that is sure to be seeing plenty of action.
In comes Jim Johnson the longtime closer at Baltimore and Luke Gregorson, who was an excellent setup man at San Diego.
Donaldson is a coming star, leading the A’s in batting (.301) RBI’s (93) and on base percentage (.384). What they need is for Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick to come up with big years.
Cespedes broke an 0-for-23 slump with his first spring training hit. The Cuban slugger soon comes up for free agency and could be dealt if the A’s find themselves shopping players around for the future.
Reddick is also arbitration eligible at the end of the season. And there is Parker, who may not be able to pitch until 2016 and at that point would have only two years left on his contract.
The timing couldn’t be worse. Oakland had looked to Parker to become the ace to replace the ageless Bartolo Colon, who won 18 games with a 2.63 ERA. Colon signed with the Mets
Bottom line: LVH projects the A’s for 89 wins, but unless they adjust for Parker’s injury taking the UNDER would seem to be the best bet on the futures board.
On deck: Philadelphia Phillies
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].