As bad as the A's offense was in 2008 - and to put it in proper perspective, there was a brief "good stretch" where it almost aspired to be putrid - it seems like a reasonable goal for the offense one year later might be "passable," maybe even only slightly lagging behind "league average" if things roll right.
The fact, though, is that things can change really fast, especially since you only send nine hitters to the plate so improving at just one position is an 11% improvement, two positions a 22% improvement, and so on.
The A's are still aiming to improve at SS and if they do acquire a new player, he or she is bound to be an offensive upgrade. But as far as changes that have already been made, Chavez has taken Hannahan's spot, Giambi has taken a spot from someone who batted .226 last season, and Matt Holliday, a true impact player, has been added. When you look at the end result, it's pretty impressive.
Holliday is one of the few hitters who can actually be described as a bigger threat than Vlad Guerrero. The Angels have recently been a team with a "so-so offense, but there's always Vlad" - the one impact hitter, on either team, who can carry an offense on his back. The A's now actually have the better Vlad.
The heart of the order, with Cust, Holliday, Giambi, and Chavez, isn't just acceptable, it's darn good. And those guys will be batting 44% of the time for Oakland. Balancing out the "take and rake boys" are some pretty good hitters to have outside the middle of an order: Kurt Suzuki, Ryan Sweeney, and either Travis Buck and/or Daric Barton, are guys who can make a lot of contact, and hit for a decent average, while Mark Ellis is a pretty good luxury to be able to store at the bottom of an order.
I'm seeing one of these two lineups, and I think it's not just a little better than the Angels' current lineup - I think it's a lot better.
Buck - RF Sweeney - CF
Cust - DH Cust - LF
Holliday - LF Holliday - RF
Giambi - 1B Giambi - DH
Chavez - 3B Chavez - 3B
Suzuki - C Suzuki - C
Sweeney - CF Barton - 1B
Ellis - 2B Ellis - 2B
In fact, I actually think it could be - dare I say it - above average. Whodathunkit?