A's: Three keys to win 

1: The heralded Big Three dwindled to one two years ago. Now, with Barry Zito switching sides of the Bay, it is up to a new crop of pitchers to carry the load. While Dan Haren seems to be the most durable, it is the super-talented Rich Harden who will be the focal point of the starting staff. Harden has the nastiest repertoire of anyone in green and gold. But his issue is staying healthy. A variety of injuries have limited the hard-throwing right-hander to just 28 starts the past two seasons, including just nine last year. But the A’s won all nine of those outings.

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2. In his one season here, Frank Thomas made the A’s gamble on him pay off. The Big Hurt was the A’s most valuable offensive player en route to 39 homers and 114 RBIs. But he’s now in Toronto. In steps another gamble, albeit less risky. Mike Piazza has shed his catcher’s gear for a full-time gig as the A’s designated hitter. The lifelong National Leaguer will have to find a way to spend his down time, but if he can match his career average of .309 and be a force in the middle of the lineup, everyone will prosper.

3. The A’s bullpen is stacked. In fact, their Triple-A bullpen is pretty well off, too. But in order for the A’s to win based on the formula laid out for them, closer Huston Street needs to regain his rookie form. While he notched 37 saves, Street also blew 11 chances and had an ERA of 3.31 (his ERA was 1.71 as a rookie). He missed 29 games due to injuries in 2006.

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