TMS MLB Preview 2009: Oakland Athletics

All through March, Thunder Matt's Saloon will be previewing each Major League team. We'll give you the ins and outs of the upcoming 2009 season, how each team will do, and some other useless crap you'll wish you had never read.

ALL HAIL BILL JAMES!OAKLAND ATHLETICS

2008 Season: 75-86 (3rd Place in AL West)

SO LONG: OF Emil Brown, P Alan Embree, P Keith Foulke, OF Carlos Gonzalez, OF Thunder Matt Murton, P Greg Smith, P Huston Street, DH Frank Thomas

WELCOME: 1B Jason Giambi, P Russ Springer, P Michael Wuertz, LF(or DH?) Matt Holliday, SS Orlando Cabrera (likely), the rotting corpse of 3B Nomar Garciaparra (possible, depending on the rate his body decays).

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Mark Ellis 2B
2. Ryan Sweeney CF
3. Matt Holliday LF
4. Jason Giambi 1B
5. Dave Kingman Adam Dunn Jack Cust DH
6. Eric Chavez 3B
7. Bobby Crosby Orlando Cabrera SS
8. Travis Buck RF
9. Kurt Suzuki C

Starting Rotation: Justin Duchscherer, Sean Gallagher, Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez, Dana Eveland
Setup: Russ Springer, whichever platoon closer is available
Closer: Joey Devine/Brad Ziegler

The Oakland A’s always mystify me (heck all of the teams in this upstart “American” League mystify me a little). I (and this is largely due to not following the West Coast or the American League much at all) almost never know who 2/3 of the players are, and I’m never really certain where they are in the standings at any given point in the year. All I really know is that a robot named Billy Beane wrote a book called Moneyball about how baseball games should be simulated by computers while Joe Morgan’s grandchildren are tortured. Or something.

This looks to be another typical Billy Beane team: cheap, ugly, and reasonably effective. Despite last year’s disappointing record, PECOTA looks at them to bounce back to about 83-79. I say that’s not unlikely in the AL West, though I think this team looks closer to a sub-.500 team in a division that isn’t “the Angels plus ¾ meh.” Once again Oakland has a lineup of people who know the strike zone and have some power in their bats. Prodigal son Jason Giambi returns, and will probably hold his aging, steroid riddled body together long enough for at least a season or two before collapsing into his component molecules. Matt Holliday’s splits away from Coors aren’t as impressive as I personally would like, but I suspect he will still be potent. And Jack Cust is fast becoming the Platonic Ideal of the Three True Outcomes (and I leave that to you to decide whether that’s a good or bad thing). As of right now, it looks like SS Orlando Cabrera and 3B Nomar Garciaparra may both be in green soon, which means perennial DL favorite Bobby Crosby will be riding pine unless someone wants a barely productive money-pit to stand in their infield.

Big question marks in the starting rotation in my opinion, though most of the players involved seem like they have the raw “stuff” for the big leagues, if not the track record. Beane’s bullpens are always getting sold for parts, so who knows where the Devine/Zeigler closer platoon will go? Out of the dazzling array of ex-Cubs fighting for roster spots (including Possible Fifth Starter Jerome Williams, Probable Disappointment Eric Patterson, Ulcer Waiting to Happen Sean Gallagher, and Guy I Only Remember Because I Vaguely Remember Calling Him “Bowener” Rob Bowen), A’s fans may actually grow to appreciate the steady, dependable Michael Wuertz most of all, as long as they realize that “steady” and “dependable” mean “I hope they don’t know how to hit a slider.”

The biggest disappointment for A’s fans who also hate melanin is the departure of legendary Left Fielder and Future Hall of Very Capable Players inductee Thunder Matt Murton, who will soon be Bringing the Thunder to a mountaintop near you (only, of course, if you live near Colorado).

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time:
Honestly, given that this team is composed of aging veterans, solid Your guess here.journeymen, and non-flashy-looking prospects - I have no idea. I assume the 2009 Mr. Sexy Time will be awarded in 2012, when the hitherto unknown farm prospect that replaces Holliday just before this year’s trade deadline signs to the Yankees for more money than God owns. For all I know, it could be potential 1B Daric Barton who may or may not move Giambi to DH and Cust to the outfield. Or Dennis Eckersly, out of retirement and out for revenge.

The "Empire Rent-A-VORP" Award: Future trade material Matt Holliday. Sure, Lew Wolff says Holliday will stay the whole season, but I’m willing to bet when that trade deadline starts looming, the chance to unload him for prospects will be too hard to resist.

The official uniform of Peaked in High School.The "Most Likely to Pass Out in His El Camino Covered in Arby’s Sauce After a Night of Hard Partying After Work" Award: the Jason Giambi from an alternate reality who never discovered steroids and ended up picking up part time hours in an auto-body shop until his Ratt cover band “starts getting some gigs.”

The “Who the Hell are You?” Award: The current starting lineup, unless one of them steps up and blows my jaded and bitter little mind.


FOR MORE READING
Athletic Supporters
Athletics Nation


Check back tomorrow when Chip Wesley will preview the Houston Astros.

Comments