In 2004 the A's won 91 games. By my very conservative count they lost at least 10 games that the 2003 bullpen would not have lost. If you throw in the fact that the Big 3 did not really perform like the Big 3, it's very possible the starting pitching could be BETTER in 2005.
I believe Mulder will be just fine. Seems to me he was just exhausted over the second half and especially the end of the season, not injured. Zito will be very servicable. Harden will continue to improve. Anybody think Dan Meyer won't be as good as Mark Redman was last year? That still leaves one slot in the starting rotation, I know. I'm sure Billy will come up with something decent.
I think there's an excellent chance the starting pitching is at least equal to last year's. The offense looks to be at least as good. The bullpen will be better, hopefully by those ten games. I, for one, remain optimistic about our chances in 2005.