With the cactus league coming to a close, and the MLB regular season knocking on the door, Oakland fans have a lot to be excited about. The young team that took the postseason by storm last year is looking to do nothing less than that in the upcoming 2013 outing.
The A’s finished third in spring training, with 17 wins and 13 losses, leaving them with a .537 winning percentage. Many may argue that spring training is a rash and inaccurate representation of the actual league’s outlook, but consistent play and a lack of injuries are nevertheless encouraging aspects of the Athletics outlook.
The team from Oakland out performed most of the AL West in the preseason, falling only behind the Mariners from Seattle by 3.5 games, whilst finishing 2 games ahead of the Rangers, who seem to be the likely playoff contender in the division.
Perhaps the most encouraging part of this season is Manager Bob Melvin’s array of happy headaches throughout the squad. Unlike last year, the A’s have strength in depth, creating several difficult decisions for the manager, with no real clear cut starters throughout the infield. Leaving fans to realize that the problem to pick a starter isn’t really a problem at all, as everyone in the squad is performing.
Off-season acquisition Jed Lowrie is proving to be all that was bargained for, providing utility at any position across the infield. Many fan’s were shocked to see last season first base regular Chris Carter go elsewhere in the trade, but young gun replacement Brandon Moss has stepped up to the plate in that regard, hitting .333 with 1 HR and 5 RBIs in 13 games.
At second base, a battle has begun between Sogard and Sizemore, the first led the team with a .500 BA, but the latter provides a better defensive advantage, both making viable claims for the start. Big name Japanese Shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima had a rougher spring training, but this is often expected with Japanese players, as it takes them time to adjust to the faster paced game. Only time will tell but things look promising.
A strong rotation will see out the campaign, with names like Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, and Tom Millone getting the nod. Household name Bartolo Colon will be available for selection after he finishes serving the last five games of a steroid suspension that began last year.
Though things look promising for the baseball team from sunny Oakland, holding off the impressing Mariners and battling with the ever-strong Rangers and Angels will be a season-long battle for the A’s, a battle that strength in depth may prove to be necessary going forward.