Oakland A's: 2008 Starts Like 2007 Ended—with Injuries and a Loss

Rob CalongeAnalyst IMarch 25, 2008

Eric Chavez is injured, Bobby Crosby is dinged up, two pitchers (Chad Gaudin and Kiko Calero) are already on the DL, Huston Street blew a save last night, and the A's lost a game they should've won. 

Does any of this sound eerily similar to last year?  It should since all of these things led to the demise of one of the most successful organizations over the past 10 years–just last year.

Even though the A's are facing similar situations to last year, they've completely rebuilt the team with young, untested talent, and though they have started the season 0-1, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic this time around. 

Even though the big three and Haren have moved on to other teams around the league, the pitching staff is strong enough to keep the A's competitive. 

The days of expecting 1-0 pitching duels to go in the favor of the A's may be long gone for now, but this team has something that hasn't been seen in Oakland since Tejada packed his bags and his needle to leave for Baltimore—hitting.

It's premature to believe that any hitting right now is going to last throughout the season, but the bats in Oakland seem much livelier than they've been the past few years. 

If the A's could ever have great pitching and hitting at the same time, it would be like the early '90s again.

Players seem to be filling their positions well. 

You can expect Crosby, Ellis, and Chavez (when healthy) to bring their bats to the game, but there are others that have stepped up, as well. 

The two most impressive so far have been newly acquired Emil Brown and utility man Donnie Murphy.  Brown is starting in left field, while Murphy is taking over for Maco Scutaro as an A's clutch hitter/fielder. 

While Chavez is out, the A's will use Jack Hannahan at third, and, in game one, he went 2-4 with a home run, one run, two RBI, and a walk. 

Travis Buck, in right field, came on last year and should also be a force at the plate.  The DH position will be filled by Jack Cust and Mike Sweeney, which not only gives the A's quality but also depth. 

Suzuki may not have the savvy that Kendall had on defense, but he more than makes up for it with his hitting by comparison. Right now, the only question mark at the plate will be at center field where Ryan Sweeney seems to be the starter.

Starting pitching isn't taking much of a drop off this year if Rich Harden can stay healthy.

Joe Blanton, Harden, Justin Duchscherer, and Gaudin are slated to be starters along with Dana Eveland, who came over in the Haren deal. 

Unfortunately for the A's, the lone question mark for pitching is going to be Huston Street, the closer. 

Street is coming off of a shaky year, and, like previously mentioned, he's continued to be shaky this season.  With Lenny DiNardo, Santiago Casilla, Alan Embree, and Keith Foulke in the setup spots, the strength of the staff could very well lay in the middle relief.

The last time that the A's had a team like this was 1999, when they won 87 games and barely missed the playoffs. 

The following year, they took first in the AL West.  That team had many similarities, as well. 

They rely on a good mix of veteran no-names and up-and-coming stars with current stars already on the roster. 

Not only do they have similar makeups and chemistry, but this year's team will also be playing with nothing to lose. 

If the A's have a losing record, nobody will be shocked, except for maybe Billy Beane. 

If the A's have a great year and make the playoffs, nobody will be shocked either, especially Billy Beane.

Only time will tell, but if the A's can shake this injury bug that's plagued them over the past two years, they may make noise come playoff time.