2014 MLB Preview and Rankings: #8 Oakland A's

Published: Apr 11, 2014 16:19pm EDT
By Michael Owen, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 11, 2014 @ 04:19pm EDT

 

We're one week into te season and the rite of passage that comes every Spring where every team still has a chance to make "this the year" in their own mind is enough to get any fan going.

There is still a lot of work to be done for some teams, position battles, last minute signings, injury struggles coming out of camp and so on. While one of the best things about Spring  is that when the season starts, anything can happen and every team has a chance.  Unfortunately for many teams those hopes can be shattered and lost by mid-May.

As we begin playing ball, we have a pretty good idea of where each team stands and while each season is unpredictable, things can change at the drop of an Ace lefties torn rotator cuff.  

Over the next few days I'll finish out the preseason rankings and analysis of the remaining teams as we have finally gotten to the teams that will likely contend for the playoffs.  Feel free to disagree and voice your differences.

Next up:

8. Oakland A's

After winning the AL west two consecutive seasons the Oakland A's can no longer be considered a surprise.  While the reality may be that the A's have been the beneficiary of two straight cataclysmic September collapses by the Texas Rangers, the A's still had to put up wins to capture the crown.

Not only did the A’s win the West for the 2nd straight year, they also lost in the 5th game of the ALDS for the 2nd straight year as well and once again, GM Billy Beane went out and re-tooled his roster, while keeping his core together in the hope they can finally get a title.

Offensively, this is not exactly a juggernaut and is without a true national superstar, however this group is a very well rounded one that finished 3rd in runs scored in 2013 while never really having a set lineup.  With no major additions to the offense other than roving 4th outfielder Craig Gentry acquired from the Rangers for top prospect Michael Choice but started the season on the DL, one could expect much the same in 2014.

While the Swingin A’s likely will never have a “regular” lineup (their most common lineup was used only 5 times last year) fans should expect another solid year from Josh Donaldson but 2013 might have been his ceiling. The real keys to the offense keeping up with last year’s pace will be which Josh Reddick shows up in 2014 and whether Yoenis Cespedes can bounce back from a very disappointing 2013. Brandon Moss and Jed Lowrie will continue to provide some stability to this offense while re-signing Coco Crisp to hold down the leadoff slot might have been the best move the A’s made all off season.

Going into training camp, the rotation was looked upon as an area of strength and depth for Oakland but then came the injury to Jarrod Parker. With as many as 3 starters that are in questionable health the A’s rotation depth may be tested.  Factor the constant injury risk that the newly signed Scott Kazmir is, despite a solid comeback in 2013 and the sheer youth (read: inexperience) of this staff, what was once considered a strength, could become very mediocre, very fast.

Another area that was considered a strength was the A’s bullpen.  In a very confusing move, rather than re-signing incumbent closer Grant Balfour, Beane went out and traded for Orioles closer Jim Johnson for essentially the same amount of money Balfour was looking for.  One week into the season, after a couple of very shaky appearances, Johnson has already lost his job as closer.  With the money that Johnson is getting, it’s not likely to be a permanent move. With the under the radar signing of Luke Gregerson in the offseason the A’s do have a backup plan on the roster, however with nobody in the ‘pen really standing out at the moment, expect Oakland to go with the “closer by committee” approach until Johnson gets his touch that netted 100+ saves over the last 2 years back.

At the moment, the A’s aren’t chock full of strengths, but they sure don’t have a lot of weaknesses either.  With all the interchangeability of the offense and serviceable depth in pitching, this is the same Oakland A’s, just a different year.  It would be hard to imagine the A’s not being a playoff contender.  With both the Rangers and Angels having their own injury concerns (not to mention that the Angels just may not be that good) plus the Mariners and Astros still a few years away,  the A’s should battle to the end once again for not only a Wild Card spot, but yet another AL West Title as well.  That being said, without having a true veteran ace to lead this young staff, one could easily make the argument that if the A’s do manage to make the playoffs, it would be hard to see the them have a deep October run.

In 2013, like 2012, a lot of things went right for the A’s, as they caught a ton of breaks and got a little luck. It would be hard to imagine, much less expect a third straight year of such.  If the way they broke training camp is any indication, their luck might have finally run out.

Prediction: 92-70

 

                                                         ***PREVIOUS RANKINGS***

                                                         (click link to view story)  

9. New York Yankees 91-71

10. Detroit Tigers 90-72

11. Arizona Diamondbacks 89-73

12. Cleveland Indians 88-74

13. Cincinnati Reds 87-75

14. Los Angeles Angels 86-76

15. San Francisco Giants 85-77

16. Pittsburgh Pirates 84-78

17. Baltimore Orioles 82-80

18. San Diego Padres 81-81

19. Kansas City Royals 81-81

20. Seattle Mariners 80-82

21. Milwaukee Brewers 78-84

22. Philadelphia Phillies 76-86

23. New York Mets 75-87

24 Colorado Rockies 74-88

25. Toronto Blue Jays 71-91

26. Chicago Cubs  70-92

27. Minnesota Twins 67-95

28. Chicago White Sox 66-96

29. Miami Marlins 64-98

30. Houston Astros 62-100

 

 


 

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