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Early Thoughts on the A's and the AL West

Do you live in Southern California? Do you like the A's? Come with us to the ballpark on Saturday, May 15 to see the A's play the Angels. Information is here. We need a group of 25 ASAP to get the good seats!

Thank you to everyone who donated to the Charity Baseball Game. We raised enough money to take all of the kids 8 and up to the game, and we should have enough for food as well! I even have eight AN volunteers who are going with me to the game. We have been cleared to photograph this event, so there will be an update after the August game. The pennants are in their poster tubes and will be mailed out this week.

Disclaimer: I am not judging the season on four games. I'm not even making any assumptions or extrapolating any numbers from this one series. But I do want to hear early impressions of the season.

First of all, I'm with most of you; I did not see anything in four games that would lead me to believe that Seattle is necessarily the standout team in the West, and as Jeff from Lookout Landing so succinctly put it (thanks xbhaskarx for the link), the A's and the M's are extremely similar teams:

They're unusually similar, and while the M's bring more star power, overall you're looking at two powerless offenses, two sensational defenses, two volatile rotations, and two deep, strong bullpens. If you think the M's are bad, you should think the A's are bad. If you think the M's are good, you should think the A's are good. And everything in between. The three games so far are only three games, but if nothing else, they've underscored how much we're alike. They've got an underrated ballclub down there in Oakland, and as far as I'm concerned, let the sibling rivalry commence.


Now it's not fair to judge the Mariners on the starting pitching we faced in this series. The Mariners' rotation will add Cliff Lee shortly and should add Bedard in early summer, which is not quite the drop-off that it currently is from Felix to Rowland-Smith and Snell.

I would say that Sheets and Duchscherer are certainly wild cards; we've seen them pitch one game and still don't know what quite to expect, but Anderson looked exactly as billed in his first start, and Braden came out of nowhere as he responded to his permanent injury by pitching a gem, notching a career high 10 strikeouts. Gio Gonzalez will be tested early in tonight's Anaheim start; I'm curious to see this Angels' team in person; I've seen two of their games on TV. I definitely think they are better than their last-place projected finish from Baseball Prospectus. And has Mike Napoli really sat three out of the four games so far?

Over in Texas, Nelson Cruz looks like the superstar he is (Washington hasn't sat him yet) and Vlad looks like he's not quite done, but the rest of the lineup had a horrible opening series, led by Josh Hamilton and his 0-7, 6 K's. Their new leadoff man, Julio Borbon is 0 for the season, and Francisco got absolutely lit yesterday. However, converted reliever-turned-starter C.J. Wilson threw an absolute gem.

I would venture to say that the A's will play a lot of low-scoring close games, and the bullpen will be involved in a lot of decisions. Rajai looked good so far, especially his stellar play in center field. Barton and Ellis both look great, and Sweeney--while continuing to show a strange lack of power for a 3-hole hitter--had a good series. Chavez's bat speed looks slow and his contact so far has been limited to left field. Suzuki continues to look great at the plate; he has one of the A's two homeruns (what, you didn't expect homeruns, did you?), and Kevin Kouzmanoff has settled down from his horrific first game to look like a very solid player. Travis Buck needs to force the A's to keep him, and so far, I don't think he's done enough.

I will tell you that by far the player I like the most, and am most surprised by is Cliff "Money" Pennington. I love his glove, I love his bat, and I think I have really underestimated what he can bring to the A's. Granted, it's four games, but I find myself looking forward to seeing him in the lineup.

What do you think? Any early season surprises? How does the AL West look now that some games have been played? Will you enjoy saying "First-Place A's" at least for today? It's been a while.

Current Series

3 game series vs Angels @ Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Oakland Athletics
@ Los Angeles Angels

Friday, Apr 9, 2010, 7:05 PM PDT
Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Gio Gonzalez vs Matt Palmer

Clear. Winds blowing out to left field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 65.

Complete Coverage >

Sat 04/10 6:05 PM PDT
Sun 04/11 12:35 PM PDT