Saturday, May 5, 2012

Youngsters Keeping A's Relevant

If you would have told me in Spring Training that in May, the A's would have a better record than the Giants, I would have called you crazy, yet here we sit, 5 days into the month, and low and behold, the A's are playing better than their cross-bay rivals.

Best FA Deal of Offseason?
The reason why they aren't struggling the way people envisioned heading into the seasons is because Cuban star Yeonis Cespedes has had very little difficulty in translating his Cuban success into success in the Majors. He leads Oakland with 5 jacks and 20 RBI and has played a strong center field. Also, the guy who flanks him to his left, right-fielder Josh Reddick, has been all the A's could have hoped for as one of the main cogs of the Andrew Bailey-to-Boston deal. He's hitting .270 with 4 HR and a couple of steals and has come up with big hit after big hit early on for Oakland. At the same time, the A's have gotten nearly nothing out of leadoff man and expected offensive catalyst Rickie Weeks. The guy who was supposed to be this team's Ichiro has started off 2012 ridiculously slow (.184/2/5 5 SB's). The A's were hoping for a little average, a little power and a lot of steals from their young second basemen, but have only gotten a handful of steals. What's kept this team around .500 though, has been it's starting pitching, which is looking stronger by the day. Veterans Bartolo Colon and Brandon McCarthy are leading the staff with ERA's of 2.53 and 2.96, respectively, and have given this team a chance to win nearly every time they've taken the ball. Also, some of the young arms the A's aquired in the by going through their fire-sale this winter, have started to perform as well. Tommy Millone, acquired in the Gio Gonzalez deal, has been in the rotation since opening day, and has been solid with a 3-2 record, 3.69 ERA and just a 1.01 WHIP. Also, Jarrod Parker, the prize of the Trevor Cahill trade, has made his big league debut and has done so in impressive fashion. Through 2 starts, the 23 year-old rightie has a 1-0 record to go with a 1.61 ERA. Granted, a small sample size, but you can sure get an idea of what these pitchers are capable of when you watch them throw.

Anyway, if your an A's fan, after watching the success of the young arms they dealt for, despite losing two studs like Cahil and Gonzalez in the rotation and Bailey out of the pen, you have to be feeling much better about things than you were immediately after these deals were made. Cahill has been decent for AZ, as has Gonzalez for his new squad in DC, but Bailey's continued arm troubles have cost him the season in Boston, and the A's are looking like clear winners of that trade now. For a team that I thought would struggle to win 70 games, they've come out playing well, and A's fans have to be stoked their team is .500 and holding 2nd place in NL West. They aren't going to make the playoffs this season, and they weren't even with the guys they traded away, but this team is on the right path and its quite obvious. Also, I like the fact they finally are giving another one of their top minor leaguers a chance, as they re-called Michael Taylor, the slugging outfielder from Sacramento. The A's are hoping to have better success with him than they have with recent minor league studs like Chris Carter and Brandon Allen.

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