clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Know Your Enemy: Oakland Athletics

New, comments

Editor's Note: Please visit OTM's sister site AthleticsNation.com for all your A's coverage.

These ain't your daddy's Oakland A's. Or, more fitting, these ain't your older brother Oakland A's.

In the past, the A's were a team built off youth. Rarely did they make a splash in free agency by actually signing or pulling in proven players through trades. Typically, they would build up their young stars and dish them out once they were about to become too expensive.

It seems like that strategy has changed.

The A's made a big splash over the offseason when they traded for slugger Matt Holliday from the Rockies. The A's sent Huston Street, Greg Smith and Carlos Gonzalez for the soon-to-be free agent at the end of the year.

The move begs the question: will the A's just now trade Holliday at the deadline and bring some young talent back in like they always (always!) do? Or, similarly, keep him for the entire season and get two draft picks out of it?

Maybe not this time.

General Manager Billy Beane brought in a crew to support Holliday in the lineup. Jason Giambi is back in the green and gold while old friends Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra join him. (How ironic? Cabrera replaced Garciaparra in Boston and now they're teammates. Weeeird.)

And as usual, the A's pitching staff is still solid. They lost Street in the Holliday deal, but he's a pitcher with a lot of potential that really hasn't shown what he has. They might regret trading him in the future, but as of now the staff is pretty strong.

STRENGTHS

Don't be surprised, but the team's biggest strength is the offense. With Holliday and Giambi in the middle of the lineup, you really can't go wrong. Cabrera can still bat the ball around the park and Eric Chavez, Mark Ellis and Garciaparra are no slouches either. I didn't even mention Jack Cust who is a home run-hitting freak of nature (and strikeouts).

WEAKNESSES

While the pitching staff is good, they're young and quite unproven. That could hurt down the line. They have eight pitchers on the staff that were born in 1983 or later. Two, Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, are just 21.

A'S KEYS TO SUCCESS IN 2009

While the young pitching could be their weakness, it could also be the biggest reason why they could surprise teams in the West. As Sox fans, you all know that young pitchers with even a little skill can devastate teams. So why can't it be the same for the A's? See: Rays, 2008.

The offense, also, will need to be clicking for the A's to do well this season. And with some mashers in that lineup, they very well could do that.

HOW THE SOX CAN BEAT THEM

Patience is important. If the Sox hitters can make their pitchers work for every strike, the Sox can take advantage. But if they are going up there hacking and swinging early in counts, they'll be in trouble. For the Sox pitchers, they just need to get strikes early in the count and make the mashers swing at bad pitches later in the count. Don't give them anything even close to a meatball or guys like Cust are going to just rip it out of the park. Give them the junk and it'll induce some air conditioning ... like Cust!