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Spring Training Games #19 and #20: A's v. Rockies and Dodgers

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Split squad extravaganza time! Here's praunlinde's preview of the Dodgers game:

"How the West Was Won" is not just a good title for a classic cowboy movie. It’s an excellent title for the 2015 Western Division Season. For us, green collared cowboys! It will be a fun ride watching the western division teams in the upcoming gun-fight of 2015. Today’s two contenders give us a look at whether they may make it to that corral we call post-season play. Our A’s wield an abundance of anticipated low-ERA pitching, a consistent middle infield, and an experienced DH. The Dodgers come in slinging their returning and replacement bats.

Similar to the A's, the Dodgers were not quiet this last off-season. Smart moves included shedding some baggage (Chad Billingsley and Brian Wilson—who was designated for assignment and then released after Wilson exercised his 2015 option); locking in needed talent (Brandon McCarthy signed to a four year contract); snagging some seasoned veterans (Jimmy Rollins and Brett Anderson—yes Brett now qualifies as a "seasoned vet"); and avoiding arbitration with consistent producer A.J. Ellis. The Matt Kemp trade? Non-factor? Probably, but he could surprise everyone and make the Dodgers regret the trade. Returning, well-known Dodger cowboys include Puig, Haren, Greinke, Kershaw, League, Gonzalez, Crawford—a 25 man roster with the tools to win the west. But probably THE best Dodger re-signing for 2015? Announcer Vin Scully returning for his 66th season. Life without Vin Scully? Holy Toledo!

Our green Hot Stove season yielded a great posse including infielders Ike Davis, Brett Lawrie, Marcus Semien and Ben Zobrist, two of whom appear to have locked spots according to Athletics Nation’s Alex Hall ("Taking Stock," 3/19/15). Add to this the nice surprises of potential starter Kendall Graveman, acquired in the Donaldson trade, as well as veteran and Designated Hitter Billy Butler and we just may be the dominant contenders. Injuries and slow starts? I believe in Stephen Vogt!

So what's going to be the difference maker in winning the west? For our boys in green and gold, it may very well be the pitching. Keeping the average runs scored against our pitchers at 2 or less is key; it won't matter so much that we don't have the biggest bats in major-league baseball. Coco Crisp as DH against lefties, Billy Butler against righties, clutch is the word that most comes to mind. Today’s game, halfway to opening day, should give us a good look.

For the Dodgers, that difference-maker may very well be "fun." Yep, fun! It's a game boys. Nothing worse than payroll size placing pressure that squeezes the fun out of the game. Not that we’ve experienced that payroll pressure, mind you, but we A's fans have great imaginations. If "big contract" =’s "must produce individually on a daily basis," this may very well cripple the Camelback cowboys. As I enter Hohokam this morning, I’m looking for that fun; we know it and feel it daily in Oakland so it won’t be hard to assess for the boys in blue.

Despite a split-squad day, today's lineup looks fantastic. Coco is shaking his head during BP and Billy Butler is dancing. Ricky's chiseled jaw is prominent at the cage. What a great day!

Here are today’s starting lineups:

Our Beloved Oakland Athletics:

1. Crisp, 7 (LF)

2. Gentry, 8 (CF)

3. Zobrist, 4 (2B)

4. Butler, DH

5. Semien, 6 (SS)

6. Vogt, 2 (C)

7. Ladendorf, 9 (RF)

8. Olson, 3 (1B)

9. Parrino, 5 (3B)

Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray

Los Angeles Dodgers:

1. Rollins, 6 (SS)

2. Ethier, 9 (RF)

3. Kendrick, 4 (2B)

4. Van Slyke, 3 (1B)

5. Uribe, 5 (3B)

6. Heisey, 8 (CF)

7. Schebler, 7 (LF)

8. Ellis, 2 (C)

9. Kershaw, 1 (SP)

***

And here's OcoCisco's preview of the Rockies game.

We are in the Rockies, so I hope this time Joey Wendle decided to bring some gloves. Okay, we are not really in the Rockies, but who could resist that great scene?

Anyways, while the more exciting pitcher's duel will be happening with our split squad at the Dodgers game, the outfield "situation" makes the Rockies game worth watching.

The lineup for the game is as follows:

  • Burns (7)
  • Fuld (8)
  • Lawrie (5)
  • Phegley (2)
  • Davis (DH)
  • Canha (3)
  • Wendle (4)
  • Pridie (9)
  • Sogard (6)
  • Chavez (1)

Crisp (LF), Gentry (CF), and Reddick (RF) are the obvious locks as the starting three in the OF, but injuries always shake things up and this year it is no different. Billy Burns is batting out of his mind with a slash line of .385/.419/.590. What's more impressive about his slash line? He leads the team with 39 at bats. Sure, he's only facing Triple AAA pitching quality and it is a small sample size in Spring Training, but Sam Fuld--the expected backup--is not as hot as Burns right now. Fuld has a slash line of .267/.324/.400 and is also facing Triple AAA pitching, which is not shabby. However, Burns offers that ridiculous speed.
Defensive capability might be the deciding factor for that last spot on the tight 25-man roster, so do not be surprised if Fuld is sweating a little bit more with the competition for his roster spot.