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I'm Sick of the "IF" Word

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It's the same every year. Spring Training is a time for previewing the upcoming season, using the only measurable criterion: past performance and injury history. We can make all sorts of guesses about the season, but until it actually plays out, we are left with the obligatory 'IF's to make decisions.

Every team; every player has an 'if' caveat attached to them at the time of Spring Training, but most of the 'if's seem to be 'what could happen', instead of 'what most likely will happen', as in the case of the A's.

For example:


  • IF Harden stays healthy...
  • IF Chavez can reach his offensive potential...
  • IF Blanton can not suck...
  • IF Bradley can stay healthy and anger-managed...
  • IF Huston can regain his rookie of the year status...
  • IF Johnson can hit at the major league level...
  • IF Ellis can regain his 2005 numbers...
  • IF Crosby can stay healthy and learn to lay off the outside slider...
  • IF Piazza can successfully DH and stay healthy...
  • IF Loaiza can pitch like his second half of the season...

About the only players that fall into the 'what you expect is most likely what you'll get' category are Jason Kendall, Dan Haren, and Justin Duchscherer. If you were to predict their numbers for the 2007 season, barring any freak injuries, your guess would probably be pretty close. Not so the rest of the team. The 2007 Oakland Athletics seem to be built on an awful lot of 'if's.

I think the best thing management can do in this situation, is to minimize the risks and play towards the 'surer if'.

The "IF" I still wonder about is the Dan Johnson vs. Daric Barton debate, which I guess, boils down to one question: Is it more likely for Daric Barton to be able to succeed at the major league level on his first try, or is it more likely that Dan Johnson will be able to succeed there, when in the past he has been unable to? I'm curious to look ahead and see how this will play out by season's end.

And even being the A's optimist that I am, I recognize that an awful lot of things have to go right in order for the A's to have a chance to repeat last year's success. I have no choice. I'm pulling for a whole lot of IF's to go our way, and hoping that maybe, just maybe, by season's end, we can look back and count them as sure things.