After a successful road trip through Minnesota and Chicago, the Red Sox return home to face the interesting Oakland A’s. It will be our first look at the phenom Yoenis Cespedes who made major headlines this winter when he hit the free-agent market. The A’s were a surprise bidder in the fact that they are stripping their assets in exchange for prospects in hopes to rebuild their ball club to contend in the future. The series will also be the return of Josh Reddick to his former home and give Ryan Sweeney a chance to play against his former club.
As always, we thank Joseph from Swingin’ A’s who helped us gain a better understanding of the A’s and some of their story lines so far this season. We discussed Cespedes, the A’s offense, Manny Ramirez and Joseph’s prediction of the A’s taking two of three from Boston based on the A’s young pitching. For the record, I think the Red Sox bats will get to the young Oakland staff and will take two of three and maybe even sweep. Enjoy the six pack.
1. Yoenis cespedes made a lot of news this winter and so far it appears he’s living up to the hype. Just how exciting is this guy to watch?
He’s pretty much the only reason why anyone should keep tabs on the Athletics this year. He’s that exciting to watch. The A’s should be extremely happy that they got a hold of this guy. He leads the team with 5 HR and 19 RBI entering Monday’s contest against Boston and those numbers are huge for Oakland’s anemic offense. He’s hitting .253/.341/.494 and has posted a .241 ISO in 22 games this season. He strikes out a ton (25.3 K%), but even with those whiffs, Cespedes remains an extremely talented and exciting player to watch.
The deal that sent Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to Boston, in my mind, was a nice one for the A’s. It’s unfortunate that Bailey suffered an injury, but Boston has seen a lot from the red-hot Sweeney this season. I was always a big fan of Sweeney and was disappointed to see him leave the bay area. He’s hitting .373/.394/.567 so far this season. Pretty sick numbers even if we are only in April still. He’s not going to hit many home runs, but a high-average hitter and plus-defender is what Sweeney projects to be. In Oakland, I think I speak for everyone that we’re excited to have Josh Reddick in green-and-gold. He’s made a nice first impression so far, hitting .267/.283/.444 with 3 HR and 6 RBI in his first 22 games. The A’s don’t hit for a lot of power, but Reddick has been a pleasant surprise in the power department so far this year. I think the deal, especially if Bailey is healthy, was a great deal for both clubs.
3. manny Ramirez. Do the A’s really need him and all that comes with him when he has served his suspension or would they be better off without Manny being Manny?
Manny Ramirez was someone worth watching a few years ago. Now? I’m not so sure. The A’s have nothing to lose, of course, but is Ramirez worth bringing into the clubhouse? Again, I’m not so sure. If he’s healthy and proves to have something left in his bat, maybe he is. In 2010, Ramirez hit .298/.409/.460 with 9 HR and 38 RBI in 90 games. Last year, he appeared in just five games with the Rays, hitting just .059/.059/.059 with an RBI. I’m not sure which Manny we’d see if he were to join the A’s once his suspension is over. If he really is interested in playing baseball and not in his own self-serving agenda, maybe he could help Oakland’s offense score more runs in the second-half of the season.
4. What’s been the biggest reason for the A’s success this early? .500 ball is better than many had them playing even though it is early. Is this a reasonable expectation for the remainder of the year?
The A’s have enjoyed solid pitching performances from some of their starters this season. Oakland’s ability to put together starting pitching year after year is quite impressive and speaks a lot about the organization’s scouting abilities. Is the pitching enough, though, to carry the team to a .500 record this year? That depends. The offense is a problem, even with the powerful Cespedes in the lineup. The A’s cannot continue to hover around the .500 mark if the offense continues to stall. Coming into Monday’s game against Boston, Oakland ranks 29th in runs, 30th in batting average, 30th in on-base percentage, and 30th in slugging percentage. On the flip side, Oakland’s pitching has the 8th best ERA (3.11) and ranks 5th in quality starts with 15. If the offense improves the A’s could have a legitimate chance at playing .500 ball for most of the year. But ranking dead last in nearly all the major offensive categories is not going to help them in their quest for a .500 season.
5. In your opinion, do the A’s stay in Oakland or is San Jose a logical solution?
The A’s need a new stadium. Period. They have been waiting around for the last three years now for a decision from Bud Selig and MLB regarding the proposed San Jose move. They have no answer yet, though. Oakland is, according to owner Lew Wolff, no longer a viable option for the Athletics and San Jose is the only logical place to build a new venue. In my own honest opinion, the A’s have overstayed their welcome at the O.co Coliseum. It’s time to pack up and move on. MLB and Bud Selig need to deliver an answer first, however, before the A’s can move past this stadium drama.
6. Give us your brief breakdown on the lighting matchups and who wins this series?
The Red Sox are pretty much the complete opposites of the Athletics this year. The Red Sox actually have guys who can score and generate runs, but the team’s pitching staff has been struggling. Meanwhile the A’s have pitching but no offense. In determining the winner of the series, however, I’m going to give into my own biased perceptions and give Oakland the edge. The A’s will roll out with Tom Milone, Jarrod Parker, and Brandon McCarthy to counter Boston’s trio of Bucholz, Doubront, and Bard. Pitching wise, I think the young Athletics rotation has the potential to keep Boston’s offense under control while the offense finds a few ways to sneak past Boston’s pitching. The A’s will take the series 2-1.