Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A's Lead West In Wins

Congratulations to the Oakland A's on getting their first win of 2008, with their victory over the Boston Red Sox in the second game of their opening series in Japan. After blowing a save in game one, and having the Red Sox win in extra-innings, the A's, behind a strong and very encouraging start by Rich Harden (6 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 9 K, 1 R, on a Manny Ramirez HR) took game two 5-1. Former Oriole Jeff "Screech" Fiorentino delivered an RBI single. I don't understand why the O's gave him up for nothing - he isn't worse than Tike Redman. Rookie first-baseman (and darkhorse ROY candidate) Daric Barton is hitting third and picked up another walk, to go along with the three from the opener. He may walk more times this series than Corey Patterson will all year. The A's offense is filled with rookies and cast-offs and declining veterans (former Royals star Mike Sweeney is batting clean-up) and they've scored 5 runs in each game - they only have 16 hits, but they've walked 11 times. Getting on base makes up for a lot of other problems a line-up may have. Another congratulations goes out to reliever Keith Foulke, who's made his way out of retirement to pitch in each game (both times 1 IP, no walks or hits, and he struck out a batter). I hope he does well this season.

Hmm, steady #1 starter who has pretty good control but doesn't strike out too many and gives up his share of hits... #2 starter who has a lot of talent but can't be counted on to produce on the field (injuries vs. inconsistency) [you see where I'm going with this?]... a bunch of young starters with some potential but lacking quality results at the major league level... a bullpen with a strike-out closer, a veteran lefty-righty tandem, and a bunch of hard-throwing unknowns (plus a lefty longman who didn't have much success as a rookie starter last year)... an offense without big-time star, but with some potential at a few positions and a quality out-field prospect arriving soon [how about now?]... some not too great veterans filling in at a few does sound awfully familiar. The A's are a better team than the O's, but you can see what I mean.

Many projection systems have the A's, and not the Mariners, as the #2 team in the AL West. I have both teams winning 77 games, but I think it's more likely that the A's win 90 (and the division) while the M's lose 90 than the other way around. I don't see why injuries to the Angels starters only help Seattle - the A's are in just as good (better?) a position to capitalize on them.

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