Oakland A's Forecast

4-1-19 - Jonathan Siegel
Author Jonathan Siegel and his wife, Aixa, and his daughter, Lea, attended the Oakland A's vs. 
San Diego Padres spring training game at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, AZ on March 8, 2019

Hope springs eternal as A's open season
by Jonathan Siegel

A few weeks ago, I attended my first ever spring training in Arizona. Of course, after watching a couple of spring games, where guys with numbers in the 80's and 90's played the last four innings, I am now an expert on how the green and gold will do in the upcoming season. Well, maybe not, but I do have a few observations.

First, attending a game at Hohokam Park is a lesson in what a nice ballpark can do for the experience. My daughter aptly observed, "I don't know how I feel about this being so much nicer than our actual stadium." It's clean and newish (refurbished), the walkways wide enough, the food diverse and parking easy. The kids are well behaved and the beer is cold.

On the field, I noticed that new relief pitcher Joakim Soria was unhittable, AAA catcher Sean Murphy has a great arm, one of the many starter candidates, Paul Blackburn, looked very hittable, and Chad Pinder hits the ball hard. Also, the official scorers needed some work. Ramon Laureano made a spectacular play and followed up by dropping a ball that was much easier. The batter got a hit.

That said, the mainly good news is that the A's lineup looks pretty much like last year's edition which won 97 games and the wild card. Same strong hitting and fielding headlined by DH Khris Davis, gold glove 3B Matt Chapman, gold glove 1B Matt Olson, SS Marcus Semien, RF Stephen Piscotty, et. al. Newly acquired second baseman Jurickson Profar could be the get of the off-season, finally fulfilling the uber prospect status he had for Texas for several years.

The bullpen also looks primed to be a strength again, led by closer Blake Treinen, second year stud Lou Trivino, Soria and sole lefty Ryan Buchter. Hey, we're even learning to love Fernando Rodney.

Jonathan and Lea were not seriously
until Stomper jumped on a tarp while the
photo was being taken

Unfortunately the rotation looks like last year as well, which is not so good. If sheer numbers counted, we would be killing it, as the A's have assembled literally around 20 "possibles" to make the rotation at some point in the season. We open with veterans Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada and Brett Anderson, keeping our fingers crossed, followed by Frankie Montas and Aaron Brooks. Spring optimism centered on fireballing righty Montas, who does look primed for a breakout, and Jesus Luzardo. Luzardo is widely considered the best lefty starting prospect in the minors, so naturally he ended spring training with a "mild" shoulder strain. Best case, he will be pitching in June.

I don't have enough words allotted to this article to go through all the possible starter reinforcements on the DL or in the minors, but would highlight A.J. Puk and Jharel Cotton (who both looked likely to make last year's rotation before ending the spring with Tommy John surgery) and Sean Manaea, last year's best starter, who ended the season with a "shoulder procedure." Any or all could be back mid-season. Or not.

Of course, it just wouldn't be the A's without spring training injuries. Besides Luzardo, Chris Herrmann, signed to be the lefty hitting half of a catcher platoon, went down with arthroscopic knee surgery, to be replaced by an all righty platoon of Josh Phegley and former Giant Nick Hundley, which is not good offensively or defensively. Hopefully Herrmann will be back by June and top prospect Murphy will be banging on the door from AAA.

In the cruelest blow of all, the A's opened the season with two losses to Seattle in Tokyo, before resuming exhibition play for a week. It was just enough time for Matt Olson to break the hamate bone in his hand and require surgery. He too will be out 4-8 weeks.

A's management spent a busy off-season putting in new special sections at the Coliseum designed to diversify the ways you can sit, stand or lounge and drink beer. As for me, as long as the sun is out and the beer is cold, I'm down. Even if it's not Hohokam Park, it's still the A's.

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Jonathan Siegel is a partner at Siegel LeWitter Malkani in downtown Oakland where he represents unions and unfairly treated employees in between refreshing his browser for the
latest A's scores and transactions.
3-6-17 - Pops

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