Oakland Athletics preview: Cinderella story not likely in 2013

Oakland Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick bounces a ball on his bat during batting practice in spring training.
Josh Reddick and his beard are ready to defend the Oakland Athletics AL West title. (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Oakland Athletics stunned everyone by claiming the AL West crown ahead of 2012 preseason favorites the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels. This is a team that never quit and were one of the best underdog stories of last year.

The club said goodbye to key starters Brandon McCarthy, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Kurt Suzuki and Chris Carter, and brought in Jed Lowrie, Chris Young, Hiroyuki Nakajima and John Jaso.

The Oakland Athletics have kept the core of their team together. Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick are entering their second season with the club and are expected to lead the team once again.

Oakland Athletics depth chart

Catcher: John Jaso, Derek Norris
First Base: Brandon Moss, Daric Barton
Second Base: Scott Sizemore, Jemile Weeks
Third Base: Jed Lowrie, Josh Donaldson, Adam Rosales
Shortstop: Hiroyuki Nakajima, Eric Sogard, Andy Parrino
Left Field: Yoenis Cespedes, Seth Smith
Center Field: Coco Crisp, Chris Young
Right Field: Josh Reddick

Oakland Athletics pitching staff

Starters: Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily
Relievers: Chris Resop, Jerry Blevins, Evan Scibner, Jordan Norberto, Pat Neshek, Sean Doolittle, Fernando Rodriguez, Grant Balfour
Closer: Ryan Cook

Oakland Athletics projected lineup

  1. Coco Crisp CF
  2. Jed Lowrie 2B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes LF
  4. Brandon Moss 1B
  5. Josh Reddick RF
  6. Seth Smith DH
  7. John Jaso C
  8. Scott Sizemore 3B
  9. Hiroyuki Nakajima SS

Oakland Athletics prospect watch

Dan Straily pitched in seven games for Oakland last season, where he went 2-1 with a 7.32 ERA. He’s projected to be the fourth starter in manager Bob Melvin’s rotation.

Look for Grant Green‘s stock to rise a bit this year. He’s champing at the bit to be an everyday player, and his day is coming. What makes him even more appealing now is he’s not just an outfielder anymore. The California native can literally play anywhere with the exception of catcher and pitcher. He’s 25 years old, and the organization isn’t going to wait anymore. He’ll have significant playing time this season.

Addison Russell is a name everyone should pay close attention to in seasons to come. While he isn’t going to be promoted to the bigs anytime this season, we should monitor the progress he’s making in Oakland’s farm system. This guy is the future of the club and will be one of the better infielders in the AL.

Russell is a player much like Starlin Castro of the Cubs; he’s a consistent, directional hitter with exceptional raw power and a good glove. He’s the best hitting prospect the Oakland Athletics farm system.


I’m going with 85-77. This would be nine wins less than they had in 2012 (94-68); quite the drop off. Expect them to place third behind the Texas Rangers.

While the AL West isn’t as feared as it once was, it’s still going to be a tough division to claim. I expect the Angels to take the division and the A’s to fall just short of a playoff berth. The Rangers will be the rock in their cleats throughout the season. The Oakland Athletics had a magical 2012, but the losses they’ve incurred this offseason, while minimal, will still hurt them in the long run.

Three things will have to happen in order for the Oakland Athletics to repeat their 2012 performance:

  1. Millone, Strailey and Griffin will have to pitch exceptionally well as their third, fourth and fifth starters. Anderson and Parker will be the rotation’s most relied, on who will win the majority of games, but Straily will have to at least win 10 games this year to put this team in the running. He is a highly touted prospect, so expectations couldn’t be any higher. Why? Because even if Anderson and Parker pitch out of their minds, these three will have two win 10 games or better with low ERA’s in order to come close to their 2012 win percentage.
  2. Nakajima or Lowrie will have to produce more than Drew and Carter did in the lineup. This should be an easy task. In the 39 games the injury-plagued Drew started, he hit a whopping .250 and struck out 41 times. This means he struck out at least once a game. Carter was another player who couldn’t stay healthy. He played 67 games and batted .214. Nakajima, 30, is unproven, which is better than being a last minute scab. Unfortunately, he is a temporary solution until Russell is promoted. Lowrie has become a bit of a journeyman the past three years, but is at full health and is back on the West Coast where he is from. Maybe being closer to home will prove successful.
  3. It might be unfair to ask for the middle of the lineup to perform better than they did last year, but they need to do just that. Cepedes, Moss and Reddick will have to carry this team offensively.

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