Sunday, February 20, 2011

2011 A's Team Preview

With MLB's Spring Training upon us, the NFL draft just 2 short months away and March madness right around the corner, it's going to be a busy time here at The Bay Area Sports Journal over the next few weeks, so we figured we'd take a look at the 2011 A's as they prepare to start their Cactus League schedule next weekend. Here is their 2011 projected lineup as of 2/21. Now, things can and will likely change, but this is what Bob Geren and Co. will likely be planning for once the real games start.

Starting Lineup:

RF David DeJesus (newcomer from KC should be great add at top of lineup)
CF Cocoa Crisp (A's hope he can stay healthy, great speed and defense in cf)
LF Josh Willingham (new add from Was., finally gets full-time gig)
DH Hideki Matsui (A's banking on him still has some magic left in that bat)
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (good glove and power, a lot of strikeouts)
1B Daric Barton (improving as a hitter, still needs more pop for a 1b'men)
C Kurt Suzuki (off-year in '10, should return to all-start status)
2B Mark Ellis (solid 2nd basemen, longest tenured in lineup)
SS Cliff Pennington (not bad, not great, good defense, slow bat)

Starting Rotation:

RHP Trevor Cahill (one of best young arms in AL, Cy Young candidate in '11)
LHP Brett Anderson (If healthy, see Cahill)
LHP Gio Gonzalez (rock-solid #3 and getting better, #1-2 on a lot of staffs)
LHP Dallas Braden (not lights out, but a consistent winner)
RHP Rich Harden (If healthy, can be an ace, if not, hello Josh Outman)


RH Andrew Bailey (one of top-5 closers in AL and under 25)
LH Brian Fuentes (could close for 1/2 teams in baseball, deadly vs. lefties)
RH Grant Balfour (like Fuentes, only against righties)
RH Brad Ziegler (has closed and succeeded, can take on any role)
LH Jerry Blevens (un-spectacular, but consistently gets it done)
LH Craig Breslow (very good lefty specialist as evident of his .191 BAA)
RH Michael Wuertz (innings eater but can pitch in tight situations too)
RH Josh Outman (insurance for Harden coming off injury plagued 2010)

These are the most likely set of players to make up the A's 2011 roster, and by the looks of things (and by the looks of their competition), they're going to be in pretty good shape. The thing the A's are going to be banking on most is their health, especially in their rotation. If Anderson and Harden stay healthy with the rest of the bunch, and they can get just enough hitting, they should win the AL West. Now, the Rangers or Angels could go out and make a big move that catapults them ahead of the line, but right now I like Oakland's chances.

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