AL West Featured MLB MLB Team News — 10 February 2011

 

It’s going to be hard to score runs in Oakland. They’ve put together a stellar staff to play in the pitcher-friendly Coliseum. Their offense, on the other hand is a bit underwhelming. Improved, yet still underwhelming. Then again, with a pitching staff like this, they don’t need to put up that many runs.

Willingham and Matsui add some much needed pop in the middle of the lineup, to go along with Crisp’s speed and Barton’s ridiculous walk rate. So, the A’s goal will be to get out to an early lead and let the pitching clean it up. They beefed up the bullpen with Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes, and Oakland will need both of them to have big years.

It’s unlikely that they’ll win the division, but the A’s should make a hard push for second place.  Their fate rests largely on how the Rangers fare. If Texas falters, the A’s should take 2nd. If not, Oakland is looking at another 3rd place finish.

Key Additions: Kevin Kouzmanoff, David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, Hideki Matsui, Rich Harden, Grant Balfour, Brian Fuentes

Key Losses: Vin Mazzaro

Lineup:

C: Kurt Suzuki

1B: Daric Barton

2B: Marc Ellis

3B: Kevin Kouzmanoff

SS: Cliff Pennington

LF: David DeJesus

CF: Coco Crisp

RF: Josh Willingham

DH: Hideki Matsui

Rotation:

1: Brett Anderson

2: Gio Gonzalez

3: Dallas Braden

4: Trevor Cahill

5: Rich Harden

CL: Brian Fuentes

Critical Players to Success:

Kevin Kouzmanoff: Kouzmanoff’s offense has been on a steady decline since he came into this league. His defense, on the other hand, has been steadily increasing. If he can raise that on base percentage back above .300, he could actually be a very valuable player for the A’s.

Rich Harden: I know, I know, pitching isn’t the problem in Oakland. But if they expect to succeed with their mediocre offense, they’re going to need every starter to fire on all cylinders.  Harden has proven to be a very productive pitcher when he’s healthy. If he can keep himself off the DL, and that’s a big if, The A’s could be looking at a playoff berth.

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Tim Young is a Civil Engineer away from MLBSoup, but at the site he heads the pre-season fantasy baseball draft guide and reviews each week in the big leagues with his weekly round-up report. His heavily math-based background shows up in his writing, as he likes to keep a focus on numbers, and dig deeper than the usual surface scratching.

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