Welcome to today's Open Thread, where we sit and whine until we actually have baseball back on our TV's and radios. January and February are long months when you're waiting for March.
Well, we get a bonus week this year. Spring Training games actually start on February 23rd, so no need to wait for March! I'll be live from Spring Training on March 1st, so I'll provide a complete and detailed scouting report when I return (read: a random summary of our new shortstop(s) and really pretty pictures).
In the "Well done, Oakland Promo Department category", check out the Coco Crisp Bernie Lean bobblehead the A's have created for this season.
It's a special "Bernie Lean" collectible of Coco Crisp, which sounds weird, but makes total sense if you followed Oakland's unlikely AL West title run in 2012. The "Bernie Lean" dance, inspired by a rap song that was inspired by the "Weekend at Bernies" franchise, became a rallying point for the team and its fans.
I wonder if the "unlikely AL West title run" tag line will ever get old. Four months later, and it still sounds great.
Jane Lee chimed in yesterday, suggesting that the A's title win last year has taken them out of "underdog" status. Clearly, I (and everyone who's ever related to the story of Moneyball), am not a fan of this idea. I like being the underdog.
Hefty expectations will naturally surround the American League West defending champion Athletics this spring.
"It's better than having no expectations," A's general manager Billy Beane said recently, smiling.
But is it, Billy? Is it?
Jane Lee asks the big questions, including, "Who will play second base?", and gives us a projected lineup, starting rotation, and bullpen. She also provides the Spring Training calendar, which has pitchers and catchers officially reporting on February 11th. That's Monday. Yes, Monday.
Here's her lineup (edited; view the link for last year's numbers):
1. CF Coco Crisp
2. C John Jaso
3. LF Yoenis Cespedes
4. 1B Brandon Moss
5. DH Seth Smith
6. RF Josh Reddick
7. 2B Jed Lowrie
8. 3B Josh Donaldson
9. SS Hiroyuki Nakajima
So what do you think? Are all the pieces there? Does this look like a back-to-back AL West Championship team?