Ever since the A’s traded away Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox last year, the team has seemingly plunged from one of the best in baseball to a rather indifferent team in the American League. It has just been the Billy Beane show ever since that trade, and now the A’s have been blown up completely. The 2015 A’s are Brandon Moss-less, Josh Donaldson-less, Jon Lester-less and Derek Norris-less, among others.
If I were a fan of any other team in the league I would be panicking right about now. But you cannot deny, General Manager Billy Beane has had a great track record with blowing up teams, creating a circus in the off-season and having a good record in the following year.
The Oakland Athletics of 2015 welcome third baseman from the Toronto Blue Jays Brett Lawrie, who only hit .247 last year up in Canada, but he still has incredible upside. Also coming in, former Tampa Bay Ray veteran utility infielder Ben Zobrist, who is a career .354 on-base percentage. The last big move for the other team in the Bay Area came toward the end of the off-season when the A’s picked up solid-reliever Tyler Clippard from the Washington Nationals.
Beane has left Oakland A’s fans wondering, “Who will be our everyday shortstop and second basemen this year?”
Beside its circus of an off-season, the next biggest story coming out of the A’s camp in Mesa, Arizona is pitcher Pat Venditte, who switch pitches. The guy is naturally a right-handed thrower, but in his debut against the Giants he turned around and struck out Brandon Belt left-handed.
Getting loose might be a problem for Venditte with the new pace-of-play rules being installed this year. According to mlb.com, the switch-pitcher will be watching the timers.
“For me, it’s something I’m going to have to look at, because I don’t want to get into a situation where I don’t get one of my arms loose,” he said.
He would certainly sell some tickets if he made the club, and the spectacle himself said he felt like he had himself a good start to his Spring Training.
According to the same article, Venditte was happy with his first performance. “Any time you get to a new team and begin a new season,” he said, “you want to start out on a good note, and I felt I was able to do that today.”
Beside all the attention this particular pitcher draws, the A’s should be set to compete in the AL West, even though the division has only become better this off-season. Although the division has been an interesting race the last couple seasons, the Mariners have truly made the best moves acquiring Austin Jackson from the Tigers and locking up Felix Hernandez in the last few years. This offseason they landed free-agent prize outfielder/DH Nelson Cruz. In addition to the Mariners, the Houston Astros are growing up, the Rangers are getting healthy and the Angels, well, they have Mike Trout.
Between the duo of Billy Beane and Bob Melvin, the Oakland A’s will be relevant this year like they are every year. Their pitching alone is good enough to be competitor in their division. But in terms of a shot at a World Series title, the current A’s roster can kiss that hope goodbye.