It’s that time of year again folks. The air is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and hope is springing eternal. If you’ve had it up to here with watching the hapless Warriors toil in mediocrity, don’t fret, baseball season has finally arrived. It is time to BART out to the Alameda County Coliseum and Pac Bell Park to catch you some good ol’ hardball under the blue sky!
Whether your allegiances lie with Stomper or LouSeal, both A’s and Giants fans have much to look forward to in 2009. Now, if only Bud Selig would let us form a Bay Area All-Star team that combined the Giants pitching staff with the A’s offensive lineup. On second thought, nobody out here likes the Yankees, last time I checked.
Last year’s mid-season fire sale was tough to sit through, no doubt about it. Just as the A’s were set to make a legitimate playoff push, Billy Beane pulled the plug on the season with his sly Moneyball tactics. Thankfully, his master plan has seemed to have worked out beautifully, as the A’s enter the ’09 season primed to capture the AL West crown. President Obama would be wise to appoint Mr. Beane to economic staff. Billy has become a master of the buy low, sell high finance game. He has handled the small market A’s beautifully and has them poised to make a serious run this year.
The A’s most notable off-season acquisition was undoubtedly Matt Holiday. The man absolutely crushes baseballs all over the diamond. To compliment Holiday’s powerful right-handed bat in the Oakland lineup, Beane has brought back an old time A’s favorite, Jason Giambi. He returns from a tumultuous tenure in New York and is ready to be his old self once more. Look for longer hair, higher bar tabs, and more home runs out of Jason upon his return to the A’s.
Fortunately, Beane did not stop short at acquiring Holliday and Giambi. Infielders Nomar Garciaparra and Orlando Cabrera have also joined up to help the A’s cause. The simple fact that Nomar will likely start the year as a bench player is a great sign for the A’s overall offensive abilities. As the year progresses, I look for him to fill in nicely for injury prone corner infielders Eric Chavez and Giambi. Meanwhile, Cabrera should prove to be a considerable upgrade over shortstop Bobby Crosby. Cabrera has been an A’s killer over the years, so sure will be nice to have him on our side this time around. Also, look for a silky smooth double play combo between Cabrera and Mark Ellis to make their fair share of ESPN WebGems this year.
Joining Holliday in the A’s outfield will be the squad’s home run leader of 2008, Jack Cust. Cust’s left-handed bat should benefit from the amount of raw power in the A’s lineup that will surround him all season. He might not be the most agile outfielder, but Cust can certainly hit the baseball a long way. That is, when he is not striking out.
Rounding out the A’s lineup will be Ryan Sweeney in center field and Kurt Suzuki behind the plate. Both Sweeney and Suzuki are fantastic young players that proved themselves as bonafide major league ballplayers last season.