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2014 Outlook: Oakland Athletics

Jan 27, 2014, 5:33 PM EDT

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2013 record: 96-66, 1st place in AL West

Manager: Bob Melvin, 4th season

Estimated 2014 payroll: $78 million

Key additions: LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Jim Johnson, INF Nick Punto, RHP Luke Gregerson, LHP Eric O’Flaherty, LHP Fernando Abad

Key losses: RHP Bartolo Colon, RHP Grant Balfour, OF Chris Young, C Kurt Suzuki, 2B Jemile Weeks, OF Seth Smith, LHP Brett Anderson, LHP Jerry Blevins

Projected lineup
CF Coco Crisp
3B Josh Donaldson
SS Jed Lowrie
LF Yoenis Cespedes
1B Brandon Moss
RF Josh Reddick
2B Alberto Callaspo
DH John Jaso
C Derek Norris

Projected rotation
RHP Jarrod Parker
LHP Scott Kazmir
RHP Sonny Gray
RHP Dan Straily
RHP A.J. Griffin

Top relievers
CL Jim Johnson
RHP Ryan Cook
RHP Luke Gregerson

Biggest questions entering 2014
1. Who becomes staff ace with Bartolo Colon gone? Laugh all you want, but Colon was invaluable to the A’s the last two seasons, going a combined 28-15 with a 2.99 ERA. Billy Beane decided to replace the departing free agent with Scott Kazmir, who had a decent bounce back in Cleveland last year but hasn’t been a true frontline starter since 2008 with Tampa Bay. So the pressure will be on a quartet of young, promising right-handers: Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray, Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin. All are 26 or younger. Gray, in particular, has the makings of a future ace.

2. Will the new-look bullpen carry the low-budget A’s? They don’t spend a ton of money in Oakland, but Beane did go all-out this winter to bolster his bullpen, making some major additions. He traded with the Orioles for closer Jim Johnson, who is making $10 million. He traded with the Padres for setup man Luke Gregerson, who is making $5 million. And he signed lefty Eric O’Flaherty (who won’t return from Tommy John surgery until midseason) for two years and $7 million. If healthy, that has the makings of a dominant bullpen. But if that group struggles, Beane will have wasted what few financial resources he has.

3. Can Josh Reddick bounce back? Reddick was Oakland’s best player in 2012, a 32-homer, Gold Glove-winning right fielder who appeared to just be hitting his stride. But he backpedaled last season, hitting a scant .226 with only 12 homers and a .686 OPS. He still plays a mean right field, but the A’s need more offense out of him in 2014.

  1. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 27, 2014 at 5:37 PM

    I was surprised that they went after an expensive closer, instead of Balfour. Even without Colon, they should do fine in that division given that no other team seems to be exceptional.

  2. Eugene in Oregon - Jan 27, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    Just made train reservations to travel to Oakland for the mid-May series there. If any other NatsInsider regulars make the trip, I’ll be happy to convert any of those virtual beers I owe people to the real thing. Cheers!

  3. Section 222 - Jan 27, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    Sounds like a blast Eugene. We’ll be interested in hear what their park is like.

    So whatever happened to Tommy Milone? Two years later and we’ve got A.J. Cole back and only Derek Norris, who was blocked by Ramos is a starter. I’d say that trade worked out pretty well.

    • David Proctor - Jan 28, 2014 at 1:00 AM

      Milone’s been…okay. He had a 3.74 ERA in 2012 and a 4.14 ERA in 2013. He actually spent some time at AAA in 2013. He could be a decent enough back-end guy, I suppose.

      He does own one of my favorite Nats moments though: when he homered on the first pitch he saw against the Mets.

  4. nats128 - Jan 28, 2014 at 7:47 AM

    Key losses: RHP Bartolo Colon, RHP Grant Balfour, OF Chris Young, C Kurt Suzuki, 2B Jemile Weeks, OF Seth Smith, LHP Brett Anderson, LHP Jerry Blevins

    How is Jemile Weeks a key loss? You must be thinking of his brother Rickie Weeks.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 47 --
ATLANTA 58 49 1.0
MIAMI 53 54 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 47 61 12.5
Through Wednesday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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