A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE ATHLETICS
I've been learning names all spring. It's a total overhaul over there.... Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir are probably the only sure things in the rotation. Gray fits every criteria of a No. 1, and he's only gonna get better. When Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester were over there, he was like a little puppy, sucking every bit of information from them that he could.... There are people saying Barry Zito's stuff reminds them of when he first got there. I'm not in that group because once you lose velo, I don't care.... Fernando Abad is underrated. Not only is he capable of coming in to face a tough lefthanded hitter, throwing up to 97 with a plus slider, but he also gets out righties and is capable of pitching multiple innings.... Josh Reddick is not looking to take pitches. He goes up there to do damage. This is a team that has a reputation for working pitchers over, trying to get into the bullpen. But trying to get him to buy into that would probably be counterproductive.... Ike Davis has got enough power to hit the ball to any part of the ballpark, if he ever commits to not just being a big pull guy. But I'm not seeing that.... The other day I said, "I can see one thing about Billy Butler: He didn't spend much time at 24 Hour Fitness during the off-season." Lo and behold, two minutes later he comes up and shoots the ball out of the yard.... When Billy Beane used to make all these moves, you would say, It's gonna be a long year for this club. But it doesn't look that way.
Scott Kazmir was one of the better stories of the first half of 2014, building on his '13 comeback by making the All-Star team with a 2.38 first-half ERA, a 23% strikeout rate and a fantastic 108/27 K/BB. Carrying his highest workload since '07 seemed to wear on him, though, as his strikeout rate dropped by a fourth and his ERA more than doubled, to 5.42, over his final 13 starts. Even at his peak, Kazmir was never a high-durability hurler, with one 200-inning season and less than six innings per start from '05 through '09. His history and his poor second half should be warning signs for the A's. Oakland has a lot of ready depth in starters and is bringing back two key members of the '13 rotation, Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, who missed last year to Tommy John surgery; the team should be quick to pull Kazmir if he starts this season the same way he ended the last one.
LEAGUE RANK 9
MANAGER BOB MELVIN 5TH SEASON WITH A'S
2015 PROJECTED STATISTICS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES (ZOBRIST)