Predicting the Oakland Athletics’ 2014 Opening Day Lineup
Oakland Athletics' Opening Day Lineup
After missing the playoffs for five straight seasons, the Oakland Athletics have won the AL West division title the past two years. This feat is quite impressive considering that both the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels have been serious title contenders during that time. While some teams get lucky and play great baseball over a short span of time, the Athletics' success has been anything but lucky despite having a lot players that most casual fans would not recognize. Adding to the Athletics' impressive resume of course is the fact that their payroll is quite small when compared to that of their two main division rivals. Coming into the 2014 season, the Oakland Athletics should be favored to win the division once again, holding off the Rangers, Angels, and the newly-rebuilt Seattle Mariners.
During free agency, the Athletics let go of starter Bartolo Colon and signed another veteran starter in Scott Kazmir to a similar short-term, cheap deal. The Athletics also rebuilt their bullpen, letting go closer Grant Balfour and bringing in relievers Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson as part of separate trades involving Jemile Weeks and Seth Smith. Previous Atlanta Braves bullpen standout Eric O'Flaherty was also signed despite not being available for the first half of 2014 due to an elbow injury. This constant shuffling of relief pitchers is certainly in line with general manager Billy Beane's philosophy of Moneyball, giving relievers easy short-term deals to work with. In terms of the everyday players, the Athletics signed outfielder Craig Gentry who will provide great defense when giving the regular starters some days off. Of course manager Bob Melvin has been well-known for platooning players at multiple positions so the starting lineup will likely change from day-to-day for the Athletics over the course of the season.
Let's take a look at the Oakland Athletics' opening day starting lineup.
1. CF Coco Crisp
As long as Coco Crisp can avoid the nagging injury bug he's faced his entire career, he will be very productive this season as usual.
2. 3B Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson was an AL MVP candidate last season and is in line for another big year.
3. SS Jed Lowrie
For the first time in his career, Jed Lowrie made it through the entire season without making a trip to the disabled list.
4. LF Yoenis Cespedes
After a successful rookie season, Yoenis Cespedes struggled mightily last year. It remains to be seen whether or not last season was a fluke or whether the pitchers in the United States have Cespedes figured out.
5. 1B Brandon Moss
Along with Donaldson, Brandon Moss was the other break-out guy for the Athletics last season. It will be interesting to see if Moss can have a monster year again.
6. RF Josh Reddick
Josh Reddick has already made some highlight-reel catches in spring training and looks ready to shed the sourness of his poor play last season.
7. 2B Eric Sogard
Eric Sogard has been making plenty of waves of the field recently, reaching the finals of the Face of the Franchise popularity contest at mlb.com.
8. DH John Jaso
Out of the two catchers the Athletics have, John Jaso has the better bat and will probably serve as the designated hitter as a result.
9. C Derek Norris
Derek Norris was coach Melvin's ace-in-the-hole pinch hitter in the postseason last year and looks to be a part of the everyday lineup in 2014.