Sorry A’s fans. This team gave up on the season before it started when they sent Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks and Nick Swisher to the White Sox for a boatload of prospects. That’s not to say that they got robbed in these deals. Dana Eveland and Gio Gonzalez have top of the rotation talent and Carlos Gonzalez should be a fixture in the outfield in the coming years. However, this team has no chance for contention in 2008.
The lineup is inexperienced and light on talent. Mark Ellis is underrated at second base-he plays fantastic defense and offers surprising power with 19 homers last season. Daric Barton showed why he is so highly regarded by the A’s down the stretch last season and will take another step forward this season. But the A’s offense will again be crippled by injuries with Eric Chavez starting the season again on the DL, Bobby Crosby yet to have a healthy season since his rookie campaign and Mike Sweeney who is both injury prone and certainly on the downside of his career. The A’s offense will finish in the bottom three in runs scored this season but expect them to look better in the second half.
The rotation is strong at the top with Joe Blanton and Rich Harden, but its questionable whether either will be with the A’s come August. Both are strong candidates to be dealt to a contender as the A’s look to reload with an eye towards the future. Harden, in particular if he stays healthy has the talent to be a front-line starter but with his injury history, I’m beginning to wonder if he’ll ever put it together. The rotation could struggle tremendously if one or both are dealt considering Chad Gaudin is coming off hip and foot surgery in December and starting the season on the DL and Justin Duchsscherer making the move from the bullpen.
The A’s pen features hard-throwing Huston Street who is also a candidate to be moved this season. Alan Embree and Kiko Calero are serviceable but nothing special and the rest of the pen is inexperienced and will be called upon early and often this season.
Bottom Line: If everyone stays healthy and no major parts are dealt for prospects, this team will finish .500. There is no chance of either happening. By August, we’ll see a preview of the 2009 A’s with the prospects moving up to the majors. That’s about all there is to look forward to. Projected Finish 69-93.