AL West: Have the Oakland A's Done Enough to Repeat as Champions?
With the recent addition of John Jaso, as well as signing all arbitration-eligible players to one-year contracts, the Oakland Athletics appear to be done with roster moves and focused on spring training.
The A's, like every other team, have added some players and lost some players. The question is, have the additions cancelled out the losses?
The Athletics' key losses were Jonny Gomes, Brandon McCarthy and Stephen Drew via free agency, and they also traded away Cliff Pennington and a top pitching prospect in A.J. Cole, among others.
Their additions include Chris Young, who is assumed to replace Gomes as an extra outfielder. They also imported Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, who will replace Drew and Pennington as the starting shortstop.
The A's rounded out the additions with the recent trade for Jaso from Seattle. Jaso isn't here to replace a departed player but to upgrade at the position offensively over George Kottaras.
So, did the A's do enough to repeat as division champions?
With Gomes, the A's lose 18 home runs off the bench by a player who was more than capable of being a starter. Young's job will be to keep up the production as a rotational outfielder. He is a career .239 hitter, but certainly has the ability to not only match, but to exceed Gomes' 18 homers.
At shortstop, Pennington wasn't very good with the bat, triggering the A's to trade for Drew down the stretch to bring more offense. Drew helped some, but he certainly isn't worth the millions he is being paid by Boston for 2013.
Will the A's repeat as AL West champions?
Nakajima is the new shortstop, and while he is an unknown player in America, he doesn't have big shoes to fill. I don't see him being quite the 2013 version of Yoenis Cespedes (an imported player who made an immediate impact), but "Hiro" should be able to at least match the production of Pennington and Drew.
The A's didn't go out and get a pitcher to take over for McCarthy, but we can expect a full season with a healthy Brett Anderson, who is worthy of being the Opening Day starter for the A's.
With the anticipated growth in Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker entering their second full MLB seasons, the A's pitching staff should be solid, despite losing McCarthy.
By adding Jaso to the platoon at catcher, the A's should be getting more offense from the position than they got from Kottaras and Derek Norris in 2012.
Anything can happen in a 162-game season, but on paper, it looks like the A's will be just as good, if not better, than they were last year. Will that be enough to repeat as champions in the American League West?
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