A rival scout sizes up the ATHLETICS
They'll three-peat as AL West champs. The pitching depth they have is an advantage over every other club in the division.... I like the SCOTT KAZMIR signing. Curt Young, their pitching coach, is tremendous, and I guarantee he saw something in Kazmir. Early in spring training I saw Kazmir carve people up using just his fastball and slider. Didn't even use his change.... The bullpen is sick and gives them the best overall staff in the American League. They have four guys who could pitch in the ninth: JIM JOHNSON, the new closer, but also RYAN COOK, LUKE GREGERSON and SEAN DOOLITTLE.BOB MELVIN does a great job with matchups, and all the options will only enhance his hand.... YOENIS CESPEDES's swing was messy last year—dipping his back shoulder, uppercutting everything, trying to yank it out—and he didn't steal bases because he had a lot of nagging injuries. He hasn't looked great this spring, hitting a lot of fly balls. But he's at the ballpark earlier than everybody every day.... I don't think JOSH DONALDSON will repeat his 2013. He'll still be a threat, but people have figured him out a little. He has a high leg kick, and the best way to get those guys out is to disrupt their rhythms.... BRANDON MOSS's power is legit, but if he's going to be a premier player, he's going to have to improve against lefthanded pitchers.... BILLY BURNS is named right—he can fly. He'll probably start in Triple A. If Billy Hamilton is in a speed class of his own, Burns is in the next tier with Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos.
2014 Projected Statistics and Run Totals by ROTOWIRE.COM
PROJECTED RUNS SCORED
AL AVERAGE 694
PROJECTED RUNS ALLOWED
AL AVERAGE 707
It's been a tough spring for the A's, who lost pitchers JARROD PARKER (Tommy John surgery) for the year and A.J. GRIFFIN (flexor tendinitis) for a month. On the bright side there is shortstop ADDISON RUSSELL, one of the game's top five prospects. Russell, who turned 20 in January, has only three games above Double A, but his tools mark him as a major leaguer. Russell has an 88% success rate stealing bases, an 11% walk rate and a 2-to-1 K-to-BB ratio. Shortstop is not a strength for the A's, who can choose from a bat stretched to play the position (JED LOWRIE) and a glove who doesn't hit much (NICK PUNTO). There's value in letting Russell—who was sent to minor league camp last week—get some Triple A time, but it's likely that he's already the best shortstop in the organization, so he shouldn't stay down long. Remember, the Angels may have cost themselves the division two years ago by waiting too long to promote Mike Trout. That's the cautionary tale for Oakland.
GREGORY BULL/AP (JOHNSON)
JED JACOBSOHN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (DONALDSON)