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It’s That Glorious Time Of The Year

Oakland Athletics Photo Day
Anthony Garcia has already shown clutchiness with his walk-off hit in the Cactus League opener.
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Or is it gore-iest? Spring training is that essential tune up time that often does more harm than good.

Game one, and nary two innings in Jefry Marte is mistaking Bruce Maxwell’s head for a piñata and in a split second the A’s catching depth goes from little to none. Luckily, Maxwell escaped the backswing without a concussion and without forgetting that he had ordered a Marte at bat and didn’t need to invoke amendments 2 and 21.

Game two, and Renato Nuñez is wowing the Mesa faithful with a litany of twos: 2 for 2, 2 BBs, 2 stolen bases — who is this svelte speedster who is out of options but is never out? Of course no one told Renato’s hamstring that he was now a veritable rabbit and as he scored on a base hit, Nuñez succumbed to a hamstring strain that will likely keep him out of action for at least 2 weeks. Not the “two” we were hoping for.

At this rate, game three seemed like the inevitable backdrop for Dustin Fowler to debut with the old “crippling injury before your first at bat,” but Oakland wisely positioned him far away from electrical boxes down either line. It’s the new shifting: “Oh he can’t handle center field, but we’ve found he suffers fewer ghastly torts there than he does in the corners.” In any event, a guy named “Fowler” gets extra irony points when he plays in the middle of the field, so it’s all good. Welcome back, Dustin!

It’s that time of the year when you don’t want to read too much into a good at bat or a bad inning, a Todd Linden spring or a Cactus League championship — quick, can you name the 2017 winner? — but you do want to enjoy the thrill of victory, the optimism of watching talented young players showcase their skills, and get your first “eyeball glimpse” at who might be poised to breakout, as well as who might not be.

Oh, apparently last year’s Cactus League trophy went to the Angels (21-14), with the Grapefruit League crown belonging to the Yankees (24-9) and Cardinals (20-8). The Astros were just 15-15 on their way to the World Series championship. In 2016, the Cubs were 11-19.

For the A’s, if one trend is emerging early it’s that there is no shortage of offensive fire power in the lineup, on the bench, and even on the way. With Matt Chapman out due to the requisite “Game Zero” injury, Sheldon Neuse joined Nuñez to provide plenty of hitting, and with Oakland in search of right-handed complements for Fowler and Joyce the A’s boast the talented 23 year old Ramon Laureano and the intriguing 26 year old minor league free agent Anthony Garcia (.294/.370/.487 last season in AA, .260/.346/.445 in 6 minor league seasons). For what it’s worth, against LHPs in 2017 Garcia batted .372/.429/.543 in just over 100 PAs.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen which is better: the April rotation in Oakland or the April rotation in Nashville. Both come with significant question marks but also considerable talent. Right now the depth chart looks something like:

Oakland: Graveman-Manaea-Mengden-Triggs-Blackburn

Nashville: Cotton-Holmes-Puk-Montas-Bassitt

I would have liked a veteran SP added in Oakland, but the future is bright. And the team really can hit. And the defense is much improved. Hope springs eternal in the spring — just stay healthy!


Which positive "early indicator" is a harbinger of good things to come?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Anthony Garcia: hitting masheen
    (13 votes)
  • 24%
    Jharel Cotton: wipeout changeup
    (154 votes)
  • 5%
    Renato Nuñez: dude can hit, too good to sit
    (37 votes)
  • 3%
    Sheldon Neuse: on the fast track to Oakland
    (24 votes)
  • 20%
    Matt Olson: "easy 40 HR power"
    (129 votes)
  • 28%
    All of the above and a wild card berth
    (176 votes)
  • 14%
    None of the above: don’t fall in love in February
    (91 votes)
624 votes total Vote Now