Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lineup Against the Wall: The Oakland A's

We're back with installment two of our gear-up-for-opening-day baseball feature, and today's examinee is none other than the handsome swingers from Oakland. These Athletics are poised to challenge defending-division-champion L.A. and have had a relatively busy off-season in anticipation of doing just that. We'll have a look at one or two of their moves, as well as what the roster might look like, just after the jump.

In addition to a bustle of minor-league activity, Oakland's front office wasted little time over the winter, and kicked things off by the signing of former Colorado Rocky outfielder Matt Holliday. They gave up pitchers Huston Street and Greg Smith, as well as outfielder Carlos Gonzalez in the deal. A couple of months later, they inked a deal with the once-mustachioed Yankee Jason Giambi, a move I'm pretty sure made them the only club to have employed both Giambis. In recent months, they've shuffled a few more pitchers and outfielders around, making frequent transaction partners of both the Rockies and the Cubs. March, however, was their busiest month, one in which they brought another Thigpen into the professional-sports mold, this one a lad by the name of Curtis, and he's the kind of guy that squats behind the plate for his paycheck. They further bulked up their infield by shaking hands on one-year deals with Nomar Garciaparra and Orlando Cabrera. Thus, Billy has been one busy Beaner.

As far as real-time baseball, Oakland will kick off the season with a four-game road stand in Los Anaheim, and their lineup might look a bit like this:

1) 2B Mark Ellis
2) LF Matt Holliday
3) SS Orlando Cabrera
4) 1B Jason Giambi
5) DH options in Garciaparra, Jack Cust
6) RF Travis Buck
7) CF Ryan Sweeney
8) 3B Eric Chavez
9) C Kurt Suzuki

Now, that could be 100 percent wrong, largely because there's a lot of youth on the depth chart and with some of the aged ones listed in that lineup, you never know who'll be healthy. I mean, maybe you DH Giambi and put Nomar at first. And what do you do with that worthless slug Bobby Crosby? The A's, as mentioned, did a lot of shaking in the off-season, but they still have some holes to fill, like speed on the base paths, and consistency with quality plate appearances. This offense has some guys that can hit for power, but it's walking a fine line between long balls and steee-rike outs.

As far as pitching, it appears that Dallas Braden gets the nod for opening day. Behind him in the rotation are Justin Duscherer, (Blanche Feverpiss fantasy favorite) Dana Eveland, Sean Gallagher, and either of two yoots in Trevor Cahill or Brett Anderson. Forgetting for a moment, who gets the fifth spot, the one bright spot for Oakland is that they've got two lefties in the rotation. How they stack up statistically is another story. Duscherer led the green-and-yellow hurlers last year with 10 wins, the lowest E.R.A. and the best K-BB ratio. Everyone else toeing the slab was pretty frickin' mediocre. And the bullpen doesn't look much better. Frankly, it doesn't have a chance to look that good with such a run-of-the-mill rotation, but their numbers don't much help the cause either. Add to that that closer Joey Devine is headed for the DL, leaving Brad Ziegler with the responsibilty of mopping up many a potentially ugly situation.

Therefore, for my money the A's are screwed. If you ask Old No. 7, he might blame the fate of this franchise on the fact that they employ a grown man by the name of Joey. He has on more than one occasion, gone off on this oddity, a soliloquy I could not locate, but found, at very least some evidence of his Joey Harrington bromance. Anyway, I'd like to wish the A's some luck as they fight to maintain their second-place status quo, but I don't really give a shit. So get bent, Oakland. You and your Danas and Joeys.