The Oakland A's made three major trades at the deadline this year, but the two biggest ones sent Ben Zobrist to the Royals and Scott Kazmir to the Astros. Well, whaddya know, those two teams will now face off in the ALDS.
The rooting interest in this series should not be difficult to figure out for A's fans. On one side, you have the Astros, the young, lovable squad that sort of reminds you of some upstart A's teams from years past, and which actually includes quite a few recent A's players. On the other side, you have the Royals, who knocked Oakland out of the playoffs last year in horrific fashion, then followed that up by becoming a bunch of obnoxious loudmouths who regularly picked on-field fights with other teams while constantly blaming everyone else, then followed that up by doing everything possible to screw up the All-Star Game by straight-up stealing other people's e-mail addresses for voting purposes (which is how I am now on a Royals.com mailing list that I simply don't care enough to click on and unsubscribe from). The Royals are gross, Kelvin Herrera is gross, Alcides Escobar is gross, and I still don't have any respect for Ned Yost as a manager or Dayton Moore as a GM. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. (Note: That doesn't change the fact that the Royals are really, really good this year. I just don't have to like them.)
Basically, if you're rooting for the Royals over the Astros, then I think you should leave. Here is a link to Royals Review. They're nice people. Go watch there.
Here's a look at the former A's in the series:
Ben Zobrist, 2B: After moving to the Royals, he pretty much did exactly what he'd been doing in Oakland, and in about the same number of games. His 119 OPS+ with the A's became 121 with the Royals; he hit 6 homers with the A's, 7 with the Royals; he struck out about as often as he walked for both teams. His defense was rated a bit higher (err, less bad) in KC, but overall he was exactly what the Royals were probably expecting -- a good all-around hitter with the ability to play two positions adequately (2B/LF). That's not what Zobrist used to be in his prime, but it's still a nice addition at a scarce position. He's starting at 2B and batting second in Game 1.
Chris Carter, 1B: We discussed Carter (and most of the other guys on this list) in the Wild Card Game preview, so for more on them check that post out. In that WCG against the Yankees, Carter started at 1B and came to the plate three times, walking in each trip. So, he still doesn't have an official at-bat in a playoff game, technically. He's starting again in Game 1 and batting seventh.
Luke Gregerson, RP: He threw eight pitches to hold a three-run lead and earn the save in the WCG. Which was really annoying, in a way. But also cool because screw the Yankees.
Pat Neshek, RP: He didn't pitch in the WCG, but we'll certainly see him in this series.
Jed Lowrie, SS: He pinch-hit for Carlos Gomez in the 9th and flied out, but by that point Houston was already zeroing in for the kill. Lowrie is not starting in Game 1.
Scott Kazmir, SP: He won't play in this game, but he is slated to start Game 2 against Johnny Cueto, who happens to be the Royals' big midseason pitching acquisition. Neither starter was very good for his new team, as Kazmir posted a 4.17 ERA and only five quality starts in 13 outings and Cueto finished with 4.76 ERA and seven quality starts in 13 games. They've both still excellent arms, though, and the pedestrian post-trade performances don't mean that one or both can't step up and pitch well in the playoffs (or at least in Game 2 of this series).
Note: Jonny Gomes was left off of the Royals' ALDS roster.
|HOUSTON ASTROS||KANSAS CITY ROYALS|
|Jose Altuve - 2B||Alcides Escobar - SS|
|George Springer - RF||Ben Zobrist - 2B|
|Carlos Correa - SS||Lorenzo Cain - CF|
|Colby Rasmus - LF||Eric Hosmer - 1B|
|Evan Gattis - DH||Kendrys Morales - DH|
|Luis Valbuena - 3B||Mike Moustakas - 3B|
|Chris Carter - 1B||Salvador Perez - C|
|Jason Castro - C||Alex Gordon - LF|
|Jake Marisnick - CF||Alex Rios - RF|
|Collin McHugh - RHP||Yordano Ventura - RHP|