Analysis: Time for a reality check, although it’s probably not all that necessary: The A’s aren’t going to be very good this year.
Nothing against Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon, who pitched extremely well in Japan, but if they’re your 1-2 punch atop the rotation in a division that features powerhouse lineups anchored by Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, you’re looking not at contention, but at a battle for .500 at best.
Now for the good news: You’re also looking at a series of intriguing subplots that should be more than enough to capture your baseball fancy throughout the summer.
Jemile Weeks’ development. If you saw his glovework on Tuesday at the Coliseum, you realize he’s a potential Gold Glove winner. If you saw him swing the bat last season or this spring, you realize he’s a potential All-Star with the bat, too. It’ll be fascinating to see if he can avoid the sophomore slump that befalls so many young studs.
Speaking of young studs, Yoenis Cespedes. Bat him third, play him in center, leave him alone and watch how he handles it. No matter how it works out, it’s going to be a blast to witness.
And, of course, there’s the longtime cornerstone of the franchise’s success: dynamic young pitching. The best A’s teams — heck, the best teams in baseball history, period — have always been led by a strong stable of hurlers, and Oakland is banking on at least three or four members of the current crop stepping up to establish themselves as arms upon which fans can count to carry into contention within a couple years.
Tyson Ross? Jarrod Parker? Tommy Milone? Graham Godfrey? Fautino De Los Santos? Brad Peacock? All well worth tracking with zeal, the team’s place in the standings notwithstanding.