The Dugout Report

Are the A’s ready to compete in the West? by tiffrut
March 30, 2011, 1:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hideki Matsui's bat needs to be hot for the A's this season

By Tiffany Rutledge

There are a few question marks surrounding the Oakland A’s going into the 2011 season, but for the first time since the 2006 team that lost in the ALCS there are expectations. The expectations are not sky high but they are there, which is new for this club. Some say they can overtake the reigning AL Champion Texas Rangers and win the AL West. With the Rangers losing a major piece of their postseason run in Cliff Lee, the A’s have hope. They can win the West, but it will take more than strong arms to lead the way.

It is well documented how good the A’s pitching staff is and can be. They led the AL with a team ERA of 3.56 and their arms are young. All-Star and Cy Young Candidate Trevor Cahill led the staff last year at the age of 22 while Brett Anderson was great as well at the same age. Gio Gonzalez matured on the mound and became a dominant force out there at the age of 24. We all know what Dallas Braden accomplished last year, hurling a perfect game at the young age of 26. This rotation is young and extremely talented. They started to come together as a unit last season and expectations for them this year are sky high. This staff has the potential to be great for years to come. The bullpen should be solid as well with the additions of Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour. They will accompany Craig Breslow and Michael Wuertz in setting things up for All Star closer Andrew Bailey in the 9th (when healthy). The pitching looks to be rock solid, but where will the runs come from? This is and always has been the biggest concern for the Green and Gold.

With such a great pitching season last year, how is it the A’s only won 81 games? Runs. They did not scratch across enough runs to support the great outings from their staff. Their home run leader, Kevin Kouzmanoff, had a not-so-impressive 16 dingers in the 2010 campaign. The team ranked 23rd overall in runs scored, making it much harder on their young arms. Getting runs on the board is a concern for the club even with a few new bats in the lineup and a revamped offense. The A’s acquired Hideki Matsui in the offseason and hope he can provide some pop as the DH in the middle of the lineup. Also acquired were outfielders David Dejesus and Josh Willingham via trades this offseason and the A’s are hoping they too provide some much needed timely hitting and also a little power to an offense starving for it. Injuries have plagued the A’s in the past as well and they hope leadoff man Coco Crisp can stay healthy this year and get on base and in scoring position for these new guys to have the RBI opportunities. Only time will tell if these three additions to the lineup will make the difference and get the A’s back over that hump and back into the playoffs. It should be a fun year to watch and a great race to follow in the AL West.

Some have compared this team poised with pitching to the reigning Champion San Francisco Giants across the Bay but the A’s want to make a name for themselves and prove they can win with their own great pitching and a little bit of hitting on the side.


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