Quick Hit: Oakland Athletics need to Withstand Injuries

Published: Mar 18, 2014 06:01am EDT
By JasonNeal, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Mar 18, 2014 @ 06:01am EDT

 

The Oakland Athletics have the chance to win the AL West for the third season in a row, but injuries to some of the Athletics biggest starting pitchers and some question marks at other positions leave some A’s fans with a lot of questions. Will the A’s have enough quality starting pitchers to hold down the fort?  Will Josh Reddick have a bounce back season?  Can Yoenis Cespedes stay healthy and contribute to the A’s success?

Jarrod Parker is out for the 2014 season as is the standard for a player who has to have Tommy John’s surgery.  Losing Parker for the year is a huge blow to the Athletics who had high hopes for Parker to lead the rotation after they traded the oft injured, but beloved Brett Anderson to the Colorado Rockies earlier this offseason.  Parker had a solid 12-8 record last year, with a 3.97 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 197 innings.  Billy Beane and Bob Melvin had Parker tagged as the ace of this up and coming pitching staff.

The A’s also have A.J. Griffin on the mend after he suffered some elbow discomfort.  Griffin is expected to rest a total of three weeks before the Athletics are able to make a decision regarding what Griffin’s next move will be.  Griffin gave up a lot of home runs last year, but he does have the ability to be a more than capable starter and brings experience and talent to the A’s staff as well.

The newest member of Oakland’s pitching staff, Scott Kazmir, was scratched from his Spring Training start due to triceps stiffness, capping a rough few days for the Green and Gold.

The A’s have some serious question marks at their corner outfield positions in addition to their starting pitchers.  Josh Reddick played injured for large parts of the 2013 season and his stat line reflected that.  Reddick batted .226, scored 54 runs, hit 12 home runs, and had 56 RBI’s in 2013, all of which are significant drops from his 2012 season.  2012 was far and away Reddick’s best season and it was the first season that he was able to see significant playing time.

Yoenis Cespedes was also injured for stretches of the 2013 season, however his contributions to the A’s success did not take a drastic plunge outside of his batting average.  When Cespedes played, the A’s were a far better team than when they had to start their fourth and/or fifth outfielders.  If Cespedes can stay healthy and get his batting average north of .280 again, the value he will add could be enough to put the A’s in the drivers seat in the AL West.

Coco Crisp was brought back by the A’s and rightfully so.  Crisp had his best year as a member of the A’s and arguably the best year of his career.  22 home runs, 93 runs scored, and 66 RBI’s were all increases from his 2012 campaign.  Crisp also swiped 21 bags while being thrown out only five times.  If Crisp can produce at the same clip he has for the past three seasons, the A’s are set at the leadoff spot and will have a great table setter for some of the guys a little further down in the order.

The infield has as many question marks as any other area on the Athletics roster, but what is known is that Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson, and Alberto Callaspo will need to add pop to the lineup.  In 2012, the Athletics were able to come up with the big hit at just the right time, and will need to do the same thing in 2014 if they want to contend.  They may not match the 15 walk-off wins they had in 2012, but they will need to find a way to get the offense going like they did last year.  The A’s were fourth in runs scored, eighth in OBP, and fourth in slugging % in the 2013 season.

If the A’s can survive the stretch of injuries to their starting pitchers, find ways for their outfield to stay healthy, and get the offensive production from everyone that they expect, then the A’s have a great chance at three-peating as AL West Champions.  If the A’s are not able to withstand the injuries and if Billy Beane can’t find the right strings to pull, the Green and Gold might be looking up at the Los Angeles Angels or the Texas Rangers when all is said and done.  That being said, Beane usually gets what he wants and Bob Melvin has shown the ability to get the most out of his players, so I would not bet against the champs.


 

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JasonNeal
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