It feels like the A’s have been, once again, slightly cursed by the baseball gods. But actually, there are ways in which Oakland has been spared the full potential of the wrath available to said deities. If you’re in a mood to be thankful, you can consider...
- Yes, since the start of spring training the A’s have lost no fewer than 5 starting pitchers off of their ‘top 10’ depth chart: Jharel Cotton, Paul Blackburn, A.J. Puk, Grant Holmes, and Frankie Montas. However, if the depth chart started approximately like
it’s worth noting that the A’s have been spared all 4 of their top starting pitchers, opening the season with #-1-#2-#3-#4-#7. So really, as Oakland awaits the return of Blackburn and the continued development of Puk and Holmes, only the #5 SP slot has really been impacted. Now if one of the top 4 goes down before others get healthy, that is going to be a big problem since the A’s have lost all their depth. Or maybe Trevor Cahill will party like it’s 2010.
- True, it’s unfortunate that the A’s don’t have a starting pitcher who is nearly as good or valuable as Madison Bumgarner, but at least they didn’t suddenly lose an ace for 2 months days before the start of the season. (Or at least not yet.) There is losing Cotton and there is losing Bumgarner: one really stings and one totally cripples.
- Remember the beginning of spring training, when the first injury news was an alarming report on Matt Chapman’s hand? Arguably no single player is more essential to the A’s present or future than Chapman, and now that everything appears to be fine it’s easy to forget how understandably panicked we were when word first — sorry to use this term — broke.
- Scary as it is to have “Puk,” “shut down,” and “no timetable” used together, the reality is that the A’s prized prospect appears to be structurally sound (always important in earthquake country) and mostly in need of rest. Similarly, while the timing of Blackburn’s soreness was far from ideal, there is again no structural damage so his season seems like it will be delayed but not destroyed. Though time will tell with the others, at this point it really looks like only Cotton has suffered a long-term injury.
- Some of the glimpses of the future we saw in the Cactus League were ‘as advertised’: Jorge Mateo’s speed and overall skill set, the bats of Sheldon Neuse (.304 with 5 HRs) and Greg Deichmann (6 for 11 with 4 extra base hits), Sean Murphy’s power and arm, Jesus Luzardo’s maturity and pitchability, Nolan Blackwood’s sidearm deception — note that the latter two each posted an ERA of 0.00 for the spring, Luzardo for 6 IP and Blackwood for 5.
- Though he looks as rusty as one would have guessed, most important of all Dustin Fowler looks fully healthy, running at 100% both in the outfield and on the bases and impressing both places. He may not look like he’s quite ready to hit big league pitching, but he does look like he can handle CF, and that was more of a long-term question.
So sure, I look at a rotation of Graveman-Manaea-Triggs-Mengden-Gossett and immediately get hives, but it’s a 162-game season and all other aspects of the A’s game are looking quite solid. In other words, it could be better, no doubt, but man it could be a whole lot worse.
As a Giants fan looking for a discount on parking would say: “Go A’s!”
Which is the most important good news of the spring?
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The #1-#4 SPs being healthy (we think)
Not losing your best pitcher to a freak injury this week
Matt Chapman’s hand being ok
Most pitcher injuries not being season-enders
Positive glimpses of the future by the ‘next wave’
Dustin Fowler being fully healthy