Monday, January 30, 2012

Bay Area Sports Notes: 49ers, Raiders, A's

Well, like we try to do at least once a month here at the Bay Area Sports Journal, we're going to use today's post to sort of touch on a lot of different topics happening right now in the Bay Area sports scene. From the Raiders hiring a new coach, the 49ers #1 offseason priority to A's offseason and their pursuing of Manny Ramirez.

49ers: We'll start with the hot topic team around the Bay Area right now, which is the San Francisco 49ers, who came within 15 minutes of representing the NFC in Indy at the Super Bowl on Sunday. However, they were unable to pull it out in the end, and much of the can be attributed to their horrid third down percentage and poor play from their receiving corps. Alex Smith didn't have his best day, in wet conditions, but his receivers failed to do much of anything to help them out as the wideouts attributed for just 1 catch and 4 yards on in game. So obviously, the 49ers number one priority in terms of the area they need to upgrade the most, I think it's unquestionably the receiving corps. Luckily for them, this particular draft comes stocked with at least 5 potential first round wideouts, and this years free agent market certainly has no shortage of impact receivers either. Now, we'll spend many of hours and posts between now and the summer discussing who the 49ers could potentially target in free agency, as well as who may fall to them in the late first round of April's draft, but I just wanted to get out my early targets if I were running the team. Their are three free agent, number-one receivers hitting the market, assuming they don't get franchised, and I'd be happy with either of them. Those three names are Dwaye Bowe, Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston, and I'd probably rank them in that order too.

Raiders: Also, being so wrapped up in the NFL playoffs and the 49ers over the last few weeks, we haven't yet talked about Reggie McKenzie's first big hire as Raiders GM, bringing in Dennis Allen, who was Denver's defensive coordinator in 2011. He's just 39 years old and brings a focus a defensive philosophy to the Raiders head coaching spot, something they haven't had in many years. Ultimately, horrid defensive play down the stretch is what cost the Raiders a trip to the playoffs as they were definitely the best team in the AFC West in 2011. I'm not too sure yet what to make of the Allen hiring, as he's young and doesn't have a bunch of experience to judge from, but I think the Raiders looked just across the Bay and saw just how successful the 49ers were with a premium defense and average offense and figured it was time they change philosophy. That's a good move in my opinion, so I see this move as a step in the right direction.

Athletics: And the third and final team we're going to discuss here today are the Oakland Athletics and the somewhat bizarre offseason they've had. They started off by dealing every player that had any value on the roster, including their top three pitchers, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey. Then in this latter part of the offseason, they've all the sudden started adding veteran pieces back to the puzzle, including the re-signing of Coco Crisp, and now their apparent serious interest in Manny Ramirez. They also inked Bartolo Colon to a deal after dealing away Guillermo Moscoso. I can kind of understand pursuing Ramirez, being that he'd draw some fans out to the Coliseum, would come pretty cheaply and would provide offense at the DH spot. However, I feel like they may have just blocked one of their better prospects in Michael Taylor, from his natural position by bringing back Crisp, and I just don't get the Colon signing a bit. Maybe they added him hoping he'll dominate the first half and they'll have a trading chip come July? I just don't really get those two signings with the theme of their offseason being in fire sale mode and looking to rid as much payroll as possible. I do like the addition of Seth Smith and the signing of Jonny Gomes, who came cheaply but could payoff big time if he just hits .250, with the pop he has. Smith is a very solid hitter who will now have an everyday gig and should respond with a .280/25/85 line, or thereabouts. Watching him over the years as a Giants fan, he's sneaky good. The A's have been one of the more active teams over the last couple of weeks, and according the Lou Wolfe, they'll be adding more before Opening Day! Like with the 49ers, we'll have much more A's talk with Spring Training quickly approaching.

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