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Open Thread: Willingham, Harden, McCarthy, Matsui - Hoping for Beltre

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So much for the A's lack of a hot stove! In case you have missed the thousands of comments about the new 2011 Oakland A's, I'll recap: The A's will likely have Brandon McCarthy and Rich Harden competing for the #5 starting spot to complete the rotation (alongside Braden, Anderson, Cahill and Gonzalez); they have signed David DeJesus, Hideki Matsui, and Brandon McCarthy, and the latest news still has Adrian Beltre considering the Athletics--at least at the moment, there are no strong rumors linking him to any other team.

If I'm being honest, I appreciate the cautious pessimism in the threads; it reminds me that the season just isn't as fun if you expect the A's to win 162 and they win 81. On the other hand, if the A's are expected to win 50 games, and then win 81, and are in the playoff race at least through the summer, it makes for a better season. I think of the San Diego Padres last season; no one expected a thing from them; yet they came within one game of making the playoffs, and kept their fans in the race until game 162. However, isn't that what the winter is all about? Looking out the window onto the dreary (or snowy) landscape, dreaming of Opening Day, so you can see how all the pieces of the team will assemble?

I guess the motto in baseball is that you just never know until the games are played. And the A's have certainly made some different moves; who knows? Is this the year that all the pieces finally fall into place? That a number of A's have a career year? That the number of injuries can FINALLY be held to a minimum?

Which A's player are you most excited about this season? And would you rather be the favored team going into Spring Training or would you rather be the underdog?