MLB In Full Bloom - Athletics Preview - 3/24/2014

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7– Number of days until Opening Day

101,396– Number of signatures at www.budweiser.com/openingday to make Opening Day a National Holiday

Oakland Athletics Preview

After five straight seasons without a playoff berth, the 2012 Oakland Athletics surprised nearly everyone and made a historic comeback to take the AL West championship on the last day of the regular season. They followed that up with an encore performance last season, winning 96 games and taking home their second straight AL West title. Unfortunately for the A's, both of those seasons ended with a loss in Game 5 of the ALDS to the Tigers. General Manager Billy Beane has kept his nucleus mostly intact but still done some of his customary roster shuffling. Will this be enough to finally get his World Series ring?

Key Additions: Jim Johnson, Scott Kazmir, Eric O'Flaherty, Luke Gregerson, Drew Pomeranz, Craig Gentry, Nick Punto

Key Departures: Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour, Seth Smith, Jeremy Blevins, Brett Anderson

OFFENSE: The Athletics get contributions from most of the hitters in the lineup. They do lack one thing that some of the other competitors for the American League crown have and that is one power bat that pitchers have to plan for each day. This may not be a bad thing, as there could be as many as three guys in the Athletics lineup that could hit over 30 home runs. Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, and Brandon Moss could all hit 30 homers this year. Moss came out of nowhere to be a very good player for the Athletics the past two years. The ugly thing for Moss is that he does not have a ton of patience at the plate, which held him up in his pursuit of a major league job. Josh Donaldson did not come out of nowhere entirely during the 2013 season, he was a first round pick in the 2007, but no one could have reasonably predicted that he would be as successful as he was in only his second full year in the majors. The Athletics have a solid lineup that will produce runs.

STARTING PITCHING: The A's did lose Bartolo Colon in free agency and Jarrod Parker recently underwent his second career Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2014 season as a result. A.J. Griffin was diagnosed with elbow tendinitis during spring training and is currently shut down. On the surface it may appear the Athletics starting pitching will struggle this year, but Griffin should return in April and this rotation is talented. Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Dan Straily, and Griffin will most likely be the core this year. But, there are also a few other options, with Tommy Milone leads the pack Drew Pomeranz and Josh Lindblom could also figure in at some point.
BULLPEN: The A's bullpen ranked sixth in the majors last season in ERA (3.22) and Billy Beane made it even stronger this offseason. Beane added Jim Johnson to replace Grant Balfour, along with Luke Gregerson, Ryan Cook, and Eric O'Flaherty (Tommy John surgery last May). The strength of the starting pitching should make this bullpen deep and it could be the best bullpen in baseball. Johnson comes over to the Bay Area after posting an MLB-leading 101 saves over the past two seasons in Baltimore. While Johnson remains young enough to stave off a decline in production, another 50-save season might be too much to ask. While the A's are better than the Orioles, Johnson topping out just above 35 saves seems like a better projection for a closer on a new team.

2014 Prediction: The American League West could be a pretty competitive division. However, the Angels, Rangers and Mariners all have far more questions to answer than the A's. While some may have thought the 2012 division title was a fluke, but last season's A's should have more than proven this group is legitimate. The Athletics have young starting pitchers that could struggle, the offense not performing consistently well due to a low batting average and high strikeouts, Johnson blowing too many games or simply regressing as the rest of the division improves. However, the Athletics will be the most consistent team and win their third-straight AL West championship.

Final Record: 89-73 (First Place AL West)

Domesday Pizzeria Draft Results

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Trumbo-Sized Trout
1. (1) Mike Trout (LAA - OF)
2. (24) Evan Longoria (TB - 3B)
3. (25) Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY - OF)
4. (48) Albert Pujols (LAA - 1B)
5. (49) Jay Bruce (Cin - OF)
6. (72) Mark Trumbo (Ari - 1B,OF)
7. (73) Matt Cain (SF - SP)
8. (96) Brett Lawrie (Tor - 2B,3B)
9. (97) Hyun-jin Ryu (LAD - SP)
10. (120) Cole Hamels (Phi - SP)
11. (121) Desmond Jennings (TB - OF)
12. (144) J.J. Hardy (Bal - SS)
13. (145) Doug Fister (Was - SP)
14. (168) Josh Reddick (Oak - OF)
15. (169) Sonny Gray (Oak - SP)
16. (192) Chris Archer (TB - SP)
17. (193) Brad Miller (Sea - 2B,SS)
18. (216) Dexter Fowler (Hou - OF)
19. (217) Yan Gomes (Cle - C)
20. (240) LaTroy Hawkins (Col - RP)
21. (241) Paco Rodríguez (LAD - RP)
22. (264) James Paxton (Sea - SP)
23. (265) Peter Bourjos (StL - OF)
Cheese Crust YO!!!!!
1. (2) Miguel Cabrera (Det - 3B)
2. (19) Yasiel Puig (LAD - OF)
3. (30) Buster Posey (SF - C,1B)
4. (43) Anibal Sánchez (Det - SP)
5. (54) Ian Kinsler (Det - 2B)
6. (67) Joe Nathan (Det - RP)
7. (78) José Iglesias (Det - 3B,SS)
8. (91) Víctor Martínez (Det - 1B)
9. (102) Drew Smyly (Det - RP)
10. (115) Austin Jackson (Det - OF)
11. (126) Torii Hunter (Det - OF)
12. (139) Rajai Davis (Det - OF)
13. (150) Kris Medlen (Atl - SP)
14. (163) Casey Janssen (Tor - RP)
15. (174) Aramis Ramírez (Mil - 3B)
16. (187) Leonys Martín (Tex - OF)
17. (198) Howie Kendrick (LAA - 2B)
18. (211) A.J. Burnett (Phi - SP)
19. (222) R.A. Dickey (Tor - SP)
20. (235) Patrick Corbin (Ari - SP)
21. (246) Kole Calhoun (LAA - OF)
22. (259) Corey Kluber (Cle - SP)
23. (270) Nick Markakis (Bal - OF)
BulliesOfTheShortBus
1. (3) Clayton Kershaw (LAD - SP)
2. (17) Justin Verlander (Det - SP)
3. (32) Félix Hernández (Sea - SP)
4. (41) Joe Mauer (Min - C,1B)
5. (56) Yoenis Céspedes (Oak - OF)
6. (65) Matt Carpenter (StL - 2B,3B)
7. (80) Manny Machado (Bal - 3B)
8. (89) José Altuve (Hou - 2B)
9. (104) Carlos Beltrán (NYY - OF)
10. (113) Billy Butler (KC - 1B)
11. (128) Asdrubal Cabrera (Cle - SS)
12. (137) Carl Crawford (LAD - OF)
13. (152) Daniel Murphy (NYM - 1B,2B)
14. (161) Michael Bourn (Cle - OF)
15. (176) Jed Lowrie (Oak - 2B,SS)
16. (185) Joaquín Benoit (SD - RP)
17. (200) Brian Wilson (LAD - RP)
18. (209) Ian Kennedy (SD - SP)
19. (224) A.J. Ellis (LAD - C)
20. (233) Rex Brothers (Col - RP)
21. (248) Tyson Ross (SD - SP,RP)
22. (257) Alex Guerrero (LAD - 2B,SS)
23. (272) Ryan Wheeler (Col - CI)
Anabolic Anchovies
1. (4) Andrew McCutchen (Pit - OF)
2. (21) Carlos Gómez (Mil - OF)
3. (28) Max Scherzer (Det - SP)
4. (45) Chris Sale (CWS - SP)
5. (52) Aroldis Chapman (Cin - RP)
6. (69) Wil Myers (TB - OF)
7. (76) Pedro Álvarez (Pit - 3B)
8. (93) Everth Cabrera (SD - SS)
9. (100) Michael Wacha (StL - SP,RP)
10. (117) José Abreu (CWS - 1B)
11. (124) Wilin Rosario (Col - C)
12. (141) Tony Cingrani (Cin - SP,RP)
13. (148) Jeff Samardzija (ChC - SP)
14. (165) Fernando Rodney (Sea - RP)
15. (172) Steve Cishek (Mia - RP)
16. (189) Nate Jones (CWS - RP)
17. (196) Jonathan Villar (Hou - SS)
18. (213) Zack Wheeler (NYM - SP)
19. (220) Nick Castellanos (Det - OF)
20. (237) Héctor Santiago (LAA - SP,RP)
21. (244) Alejandro De Aza (CWS - OF)
22. (261) Mitch Moreland (Tex - 1B)
23. (268) Kolten Wong (StL - 2B)
HisSupremeDomliness
1. (5) Paul Goldschmidt (Ari - 1B)
2. (23) Adam Wainwright (StL - SP)
3. (26) Jason Kipnis (Cle - 2B)
4. (47) Brian McCann (NYY - C)
5. (50) Jean Segura (Mil - SS)
6. (71) Pablo Sandoval (SF - 3B)
7. (74) Trevor Rosenthal (StL - RP)
8. (95) Alex Gordon (KC - OF)
9. (98) Michael Cuddyer (Col - 1B,OF)
10. (119) Matt Adams (StL - 1B)
11. (122) Anthony Rizzo (ChC - 1B)
12. (143) Jhonny Peralta (StL - SS)
13. (146) Jered Weaver (LAA - SP)
14. (167) Brandon Moss (Oak - 1B,OF)
15. (170) Jim Henderson (Mil - RP)
16. (191) Will Venable (SD - OF)
17. (194) Michael Morse (SF - 1B,OF)
18. (215) Dan Haren (LAD - SP)
19. (218) Taijuan Walker (Sea - SP)
20. (239) Yovani Gallardo (Mil - SP)
21. (242) Carlos Martínez (StL - RP)
22. (263) Javier Báez (ChC - SS)
23. (266) Josh Johnson (SD - SP)
Delivering ChinMusic
1. (6) Ryan Braun (Mil - OF)
2. (16) Joey Votto (Cin - 1B)
3. (33) Dustin Pedroia (Bos - 2B)
4. (40) Madison Bumgarner (SF - SP)
5. (57) Gio González (Was - SP)
6. (64) David Ortiz (Bos - 1B)
7. (81) James Shields (KC - SP)
8. (88) Josh Donaldson (Oak - 3B)
9. (105) Josh Hamilton (LAA - OF)
10. (112) Matt Moore (TB - SP)
11. (129) Addison Reed (Ari - RP)
12. (136) Jonathan Lucroy (Mil - C,1B)
13. (153) Grant Balfour (TB - RP)
14. (160) Nelson Cruz (Bal - OF)
15. (177) Andrelton Simmons (Atl - SS)
16. (184) Clay Buchholz (Bos - SP)
17. (201) Omar Infante (KC - 2B)
18. (208) Nick Swisher (Cle - 1B,OF)
19. (225) Neftali Feliz (Tex - RP)
20. (232) Mark Teixeira (NYY - 1B)
21. (249) Corey Hart (Sea - 1B)
22. (256) Jake Peavy (Bos - SP)
23. (273) David Freese (LAA - 3B)
Stuart's Stuft Pizza
1. (7) Robinson Canó (Sea - 2B)
2. (14) Adam Jones (Bal - OF)
3. (35) Craig Kimbrel (Atl - RP)
4. (38) Hunter Pence (SF - OF)
5. (59) Adrián González (LAD - 1B)
6. (62) Jordan Zimmermann (Was - SP)
7. (83) Ben Zobrist (TB - 2B,SS,OF)
8. (86) Mike Minor (Atl - SP)
9. (107) Domonic Brown (Phi - OF)
10. (110) Hisashi Iwakuma (Sea - SP)
11. (131) Kyle Seager (Sea - 3B)
12. (134) Andrew Cashner (SD - SP,RP)
13. (155) Salvador Pérez (KC - C)
14. (158) Mike Napoli (Bos - 1B)
15. (179) Justin Masterson (Cle - SP)
16. (182) Michael Brantley (Cle - OF)
17. (203) C.J. Wilson (LAA - SP)
18. (206) Matt Wieters (Bal - C)
19. (227) Scott Kazmir (Oak - SP)
20. (230) Chris Johnson (Atl - 1B,3B)
21. (251) Neil Walker (Pit - 2B)
22. (254) Tyler Clippard (Was - RP)
23. (275) Adam Lind (Tor - 1B)
Pepperoni Ponies
1. (8) Carlos González (Col - OF)
2. (13) Prince Fielder (Tex - 1B)
3. (36) José Fernández (Mia - SP)
4. (37) Shin-Soo Choo (Tex - OF)
5. (60) Billy Hamilton (Cin - OF)
6. (61) Kenley Jansen (LAD - RP)
7. (84) Carlos Santana (Cle - C,1B)
8. (85) Martín Prado (Ari - 2B,3B,OF)
9. (108) Julio Teherán (Atl - SP)
10. (109) David Robertson (NYY - RP)
11. (132) Jedd Gyorko (SD - 2B,3B)
12. (133) Ernesto Frieri (LAA - RP)
13. (156) Xander Bogaerts (Bos - 3B,SS)
14. (157) Evan Gattis (Atl - C,OF)
15. (180) Lance Lynn (StL - SP)
16. (181) Tim Lincecum (SF - SP)
17. (204) John Axford (Cle - RP)
18. (205) Will Middlebrooks (Bos - 3B)
19. (228) Christian Yelich (Mia - OF)
20. (229) Archie Bradley (Ari - SP)
21. (252) Ervin Santana (Atl - SP)
22. (253) Anthony Rendón (Was - 2B,3B)
23. (276) José Quintana (CWS - SP)
Pete Wagoner's Team
1. (9) Chris Davis (Bal - 1B)
2. (22) Troy Tulowitzki (Col - SS)
3. (27) David Wright (NYM - 3B)
4. (46) Ian Desmond (Was - SS)
5. (51) José Reyes (Tor - SS)
6. (70) Ryan Zimmerman (Was - 3B)
7. (75) Matt Holliday (StL - OF)
8. (94) Homer Bailey (Cin - SP)
9. (99) Greg Holland (KC - RP)
10. (118) Sergio Romo (SF - RP)
11. (123) Jason Grilli (Pit - RP)
12. (142) Aaron Hill (Ari - 2B)
13. (147) Rafael Soriano (Was - RP)
14. (166) Francisco Liriano (Pit - SP)
15. (171) Jonathan Papelbon (Phi - RP)
16. (190) Matt Garza (Mil - SP)
17. (195) Norichika Aoki (KC - OF)
18. (214) Ben Revere (Phi - OF)
19. (219) Adam Eaton (CWS - OF)
20. (238) A.J. Pierzynski (Bos - C)
21. (243) Ryan Howard (Phi - 1B)
22. (262) B.J. Upton (Atl - OF)
23. (267) Chris Carter (Hou - 1B,OF)
Canadian Balkin
1. (10) Bryce Harper (Was - OF)
2. (20) Giancarlo Stanton (Mia - OF)
3. (29) José Bautista (Tor - OF)
4. (44) David Price (TB - SP)
5. (53) Yadier Molina (StL - C)
6. (68) Eric Hosmer (KC - 1B)
7. (77) Elvis Andrus (Tex - SS)
8. (92) Shelby Miller (StL - SP)
9. (101) Brandon Phillips (Cin - 2B)
10. (116) Masahiro Tanaka (NYY - SP)
11. (125) Nolan Arenado (Col - 3B)
12. (140) Alexei Ramírez (CWS - SS)
13. (149) Brett Gardner (NYY - OF)
14. (164) Jim Johnson (Oak - RP)
15. (173) Bobby Parnell (NYM - RP)
16. (188) Jurickson Profar (Tex - 2B,3B,SS)
17. (197) CC Sabathia (NYY - SP)
18. (212) Jason Castro (Hou - C)
19. (221) José Veras (ChC - RP)
20. (236) Chris Tillman (Bal - SP)
21. (245) Colby Rasmus (Tor - OF)
22. (260) Emilio Bonifacio (ChC - 2B,3B,OF)
23. (269) Justin Morneau (Col - 1B)
Pete's lovers Pizza
1. (11) Hanley Ramírez (LAD - SS)
2. (18) Yu Darvish (Tex - SP)
3. (31) Stephen Strasburg (Was - SP)
4. (42) Justin Upton (Atl - OF)
5. (55) Álex Ríos (Tex - OF)
6. (66) Allen Craig (StL - 1B,OF)
7. (79) Gerrit Cole (Pit - SP)
8. (90) Mat Latos (Cin - SP)
9. (103) Koji Uehara (Bos - RP)
10. (114) Jayson Werth (Was - OF)
11. (127) Glen Perkins (Min - RP)
12. (138) Coco Crisp (Oak - OF)
13. (151) Brandon Belt (SF - 1B)
14. (162) Alfonso Soriano (NYY - OF)
15. (175) Hiroki Kuroda (NYY - SP)
16. (186) Huston Street (SD - RP)
17. (199) Chase Headley (SD - 3B)
18. (210) Brian Dozier (Min - 2B)
19. (223) Derek Jeter (NYY - SS)
20. (234) Miguel Montero (Ari - C)
21. (247) Khris Davis (Mil - OF)
22. (258) Kendrys Morales (Sea - 1B)
23. (271) Marco Estrada (Mil - SP)
Blue Balls
1. (12) Adrián Béltre (Tex - 3B)
2. (15) Edwin Encarnación (Tor - 1B,3B)
3. (34) Freddie Freeman (Atl - 1B)
4. (39) Cliff Lee (Phi - SP)
5. (58) Starling Marte (Pit - OF)
6. (63) Zack Greinke (LAD - SP)
7. (82) Jason Heyward (Atl - OF)
8. (87) Matt Kemp (LAD - OF)
9. (106) Alex Cobb (TB - SP)
10. (111) Danny Salazar (Cle - SP)
11. (130) Curtis Granderson (NYM - OF)
12. (135) Shane Victorino (Bos - OF)
13. (154) Starlin Castro (ChC - SS)
14. (159) Johnny Cueto (Cin - SP)
15. (178) Chase Utley (Phi - 2B)
16. (183) Jon Lester (Bos - SP)
17. (202) Jimmy Rollins (Phi - SS)
18. (207) Wilson Ramos (Was - C)
19. (226) Tommy Hunter (Bal - RP)
20. (231) Alex Wood (Atl - SP,RP)
21. (250) Brandon Beachy (Atl - SP)
22. (255) Ubaldo Jiménez (Bal - SP)
23. (274) Todd Frazier (Cin - 3B)

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