Tagged: Mark McGwire

Athletics 2009: Contenders or Pretenders

There’s a lot of analysts suggesting the 2009 Athletics will be in contention for the AL West crown, I am not one of those analysts. Did they improve? Yes. Did the Angels fall back? Maybe. Did the A’s close the gap enough? No.

The Good

Jason_Giambi 2.jpgIn case you haven’t noticed, the A’s brought back Jason Giambi (2008 – 32 HR; career – 396) and traded for Matt Holliday. The addition of those two players should greatly improve the A’s offense, an offense that scored 25 less runs than Seattle in 2008, to finish dead last in the American League.

The pitching staff finished in the top 10 in MLB in ERA and runs allowed last year, despite the team’s 75-86 record.

Trivia Question

The A’s have now gone back-to-back seasons allowing more runs than they’ve scored. Can you name the team’s best home run hitter the last time the team had back-to-back seasons where their offense was worse than their pitching?

The Bad

Oakland fans understand if the team struggles, Beane is willing to implode the infrastructure and rebuild in a matter of minutes. And the short-term investment in Holliday this year has to be the scariest reminder of Beane’s strategy we’ve seen possibly ever.

Trading away Rich Harden, Joe Blanton and Huston Street since Opening Day 2008, has completely changed the look of the pitching staff, putting Justin Duschesher in his first Opening Day start this year. It also means the A’s will likely look at Brad Ziegler to hold down the 9th inning, and based on his 2008 finale, he may be capable of being a top-notch closer.

Bottom Line

I learned a long time ago not to bet against the A’s, so while I don’t think they’ve got enough to finish first in the AL West or take the Wild Card, I also wouldn’t be surprised if this team is good enough to make a first round playoff exit.

Trivia Answer

mark_mcgwire.jpgThe years were 1997 and 1998, and the A’s had one very prominent power hitting first baseman leave and another take over the reigns.

Big Mac, Mark McGwire slugged 34 homers in 105 games for the 1997 A’s before being dealt to the Cardinals. In 1998, Giambi took over at first (after playing LF in his first couple of seasons for the A’s) and hit a team leading 27 homers.


2nd Place, AL West, 86-76. The A’s fool everybody by competing into July, still dealing Holliday (to the Yankees for Robinson Cano and a couple other pieces), where Cano becomes a team-leader and nearly gets the team to the playoffs.

Photo credits:
Giambi – http://kingofcali.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/01/giambi_is_back_in_oakland.html
McGwire – http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/baseball/mlb/01/22/mcgwire.steroids.ap/