Well baseball fans, the wait is nearly over, as most Major League teams have begun Spring Training workouts and spring games are just around the corner.
Like always, for full Giants coverage, check out our exclusive The Giants Baseball Blog, which will be updated daily or every other day, with the Giants spring training beat. So, because we save most of our Giants talk for that site, we'll be focusing on the A's today, and their improving chances in the AL West. The competition in the AL West have all taken big hits this winter, and the Rangers are now on the verge of losing one of their best hitters and team leaders, Michael Young. Meanwhile, the traditionally active LA Angels stayed relatively quiet this winter, and didn't do much to improve their roster over last years bunch. The A's, however, have improved, more than any other team in this division in my opinion. They added some hitting by grabbing Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham and David DeJesus. They also added to their pitching staff by getting Rich Harden (pictured to left) back and signing Brian Fuentes, the top left-handed reliever on the market. They have really put themselves in position to make a legit run at this division, and right now, I'd consider them the favorites.
Now, they do have some major health questions they need to answer, mainly in their starting rotation. They have a real solid young group of starters, but arguably their best one, lefty Brett Anderson, has had trouble staying on the mound for a full year. The 23 year-old made huge strides in his sophomore year before going down with an arm problem, and the A's are really hoping he's at 100% and ready this spring. He and Trevor Cahill (18 game winner, sub-3.00 era in 2010) could make up the best under-25 duo in the AL. Their question coming in isn't about pitching though, they have plenty of that, especially now with Harden and Fuentes in town. It's about hitting. They didn't hit in 2010 and that's why they didn't make the playoffs. I don't know if Matsui, Willingham and DeJesus will be quite enough to push them over the top, but it's certainly a start, and I think the A's are 1 big bat away from being real contenders, not only for the AL West crown, but quite possibly for AL Pennant.