Well it’s that day – Opening Day! The 2014 A’s are ready to kick off the long season against the Cleveland Indians tonight. Despite my lack of blogging, it was an active offseason for the A’s. Not necessarily anything jaw-dropping but plenty of activity and new players to fill the holes vacated by some ex-A’s.
The biggest adds were to the pitching staff. After letting Bartolo Colon go as a free agent, the A’s picked up lefty Scott Kazmir on a two-year, $22 million deal. The money in this deal was surprising, but not as surprising as picking up a closer that makes $10 million, which the A’s did when they sent Jemile Weeks to the Orioles for Jim Johnson, to replace departed free agent Grant Balfour. These two pickups are a bit of a head-scratcher when you consider that Colon and Balfour will make a combined $14 million in 2014, while Kazmir and Johnson will combine for $21 million. The new duo is younger though, and Johnson comes with only a one-year commitment while Colon and Balfour both signed two-year deals. We’ll see over the course of this season which pair of pitchers ended up being the better get.
The A’s didn’t stop adding pitchers with those two, however. They also traded Seth Smith to the Padres for Luke Gregerson, which in my opinion is probably the best value deal of the winter. Smith didn’t really have a roster spot on the A’s anymore and was a potential non-tender, so it almost feels like the A’s picked up Gregerson for free. And it’s not like Gregerson is a replacement level reliever – he’s a really good setup man, with a 2.88 career ERA in 5 seasons.
Also added to the bullpen were Fernando Abad, who will begin the season in the big leauges, and Eric O’Flaherty, who will begin the year on the disabled list and probably won’t be a factor until mid-summer.
A number of other pitchers will begin the season on the disabled list, the most notable of course is Jarrod Parker who will miss the season with his second Tommy John surgery. This is clearly a big blow to the A’s, as it’ll be hard to replace the production of a guy they’ve recently trusted with Game 1 of a playoff series. Many will point to a full season of Sonny Gray as a possible cushion for the blow, but I think someone else is going to have to step up and I hope that guy is Dan Straily. He’s entering his third big league season and now would be the perfect time to turn that corner and show that he is a #2 or #3 guy on a big league staff.
Ryan Cook and A.J. Griffin will also begin the season on the D.L., which opens up a spot for Jesse Chavez, who had a really good spring, to start out in the rotation. New acquisition Craig Gentry is also starting the year on the disabled list and minor league signing Sam Fuld will get a shot as the fifth outfielder after his strong spring showing.
Is that it? I probably missed someone but I think I’ve covered the main guys. It all will play out over the next 162. #1 tonight! Let’s Go A’s!