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Talented youth is nothing new for the Oakland Athletics. So coming into the 2009 season it is not surprising that they will be relying on youth once again to lead the team, the only difference this time is the youth is all in the pitching staff.
This is a team that last season ranked last in the American League in team batting average (.242), on-base percentage (.318), slugging percentage (.369) and runs (646) and led the AL in strikeouts (1,226). The offense was the problem area last season and general manager Billy Beane raised some eyebrows with his unprecedented moves this offseason to acquire some proven offensive talent.
The Matt Holliday acquisition was definitely a shocker because the A’s have not been a team to go out and get a big name player, they have been just the opposite in the recent years.
When Beane went out and signed free-agent Jason Giambi, Oakland fans were left thinking this year could be a little different. Then came Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra, all guys who have made a name for themselves in the big leagues with other teams. So the offense looks better but when we switch gears and look at those who will be on the mound this year, A’s fans are left questioning and wondering if these young guys are ready to establish themselves as Major League hurlers.
The rotation this season will be young, inexperienced but very talented. With the injury to number one starter Justin Duchscherer, the already young rotation took a major blow. Duchscherer was brilliant for the A’s when he was healthy last year, putting up some of the best numbers in all of baseball in the first half of the season. He had a 2.54 ERA in 22 games started for the A’s last season but his hip injury cut his season short, now he has elbow issues and has opted for surgery and if all goes well will not be back until mid-May.
Oakland traded away three of their starters from last season in Rich Harden, Joe Blanton and Greg Smith and they are left with young guys that are unproven but ready to show their talent. Manager Bob Geren has not announced his rotation and says he will wait until the day before the season begins. He has hinted that either Dana Eveland or Dallas Braden has a chance to take the ball on April 6 in Anaheim.
The projected rotation is Braden, Eveland, Sean Gallagher, Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill. Eveland is the most experienced starter of this bunch with just a year of Major League service under his belt.
Vin Mazzaro, another top prospect was recently sent down to the minors so it looks like he will not make the rotation but young Anderson and Cahill look to be on their way to making the team. Young is a definite way to describe this rotation. Eveland and Braden are 25, Gallagher, 23 and Anderson and Cahill are only 21 years old.
Anderson and Cahill are two of the top pitching prospects in baseball but they were projected to pitch this season in AAA Sacramento but with injuries and circumstances what they are, these two look to be on the fast track to the Majors and they are excited to show what they can do. The A’s are relying on youth once again, the young talent they have acquired via the draft and trades will be forced to show off their talent a little sooner than expected. If nothing else, they should be fun to watch this season.
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