The Oakland Athletics have been around in one form or another since 1901, and are one of the founding franchises of the Ameican League. Yet even as the elder club of the league, they still get no respect either on the field or off. Rodney Dangerfield would understand.
The Action: There has been a lot of movement, but not the move the club wanted most. Owner Lew Wolff wants to shift operations to San Jose but has not been given permission to do so, and he’s not happy about it. General manager Billy Beane, riding a wave of recognition, appears to be stretching the principles of the “Moneyball” theory.
Beane has signed Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes to a lucrative four-year deal, but he has no track record against big-league hitting. Slugger Manny Ramirez is now aboard, but he’ll have to sit out the team’s first 50 games to complete a suspension; by the time he’s eligible to play, he’ll be 40.
Bartolo Colon, 38, has been brought in despite a troublesome elbow which was repaired using a controversial procedure using his own fat and bone marrow stem cells. In the meantime, the A’s have traded away closer Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox, Trevor Cahill and Brad Ziegler to the Diamondbacks, and Guillermo Moscoso to the Rockies.
It’s A Lock: There are so few certainties here that you have to feel sorry for manager Bob Melvin. Starter Brandon McCarthy and catcher Kurt Suzuki form the primary battery. Coco Crisp will patrol left field, and Cliff Pennington is at shortstop. Jemile Weeks (brother of Milwaukee Brewers’ Rickie) will be slotted in at second base and likely bat leadoff.
Hedge Your Bets: So many questions here. Cespedes has established his bona fides with the scouts, but he has yet to play in the majors. This is probably the last gasp for both Ramirez and Colon. Pitchers Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson are still injured. Untried Fautino De Los Santos will apparently get the first chances to close games, even with far more experienced relievers like Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes on the staff.
First base is in a state of flux, with incumbent Daric Barton recently encountering a setback in his recovery from right shoulder surgery last September. Brandon Allen has shown some signs he wants the job, but so do Chris Carter and Kila Ka’aihue. Scott Sizemore is already done for the season, so third base is up for grabs among a bunch of no-names. Former Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick, acquired in the Andrew Bailey deal, has shown no signs of difficulty with his surgically repaired right wrist so far this spring, and could turn into a lock in right field.
The Payoff: With the Angels and the Rangers in their division, the A’s don’t have much of a chance of winning anything; the MLB futures betting reflects that. No pitcher on this squad had 10 major-league victories in 2011, and the same could happen this season.