Smart spending still beats big spending
Say what you will, but Billy Beane is not averse to making decisive moves. Adding guys like John Jaso and Jed Lowrie may not be as sexy as Josh Hamilton, but the Oakland Athletics have further addressed offseason deficiencies with their moves.
With Lowrie in the fold, the A's now have someone with real Major League pop to fill in voids all over the infield. That means players like Eric Sogard and Adam "Skolnick" Rosales have less at-bats in meaningful situations. I like them both, but neither should be hitting more than 70 times a year in the big leagues.
The reality is, the A's were not far away last year and the two biggest holes in the lineup have been addressed with a trio of potentially big time upgrades in Jaso, Lowrie, and Hiro Nakajima. Yes, losing Chris Carter has the potential to take home runs away from the lineup. As a matter of fact, I anticipate that happening.
Who should be the AL West favorites?
However, you sometimes have to pull from a position of strength to address a position of weakness. There is no guarantee what Nakajima will give the A's.
Lowrie would be a fantastic alternative at shortstop. He also fits at second, third, and first base as well. Scott Sizemore hasn't played second base in the Major Leagues with any consistency. In other words, having a player with a real pedigree in waiting can only help this infield.
But the separation Oakland has from both Texas and Los Angeles, er Anaheim, is in the starting pitching. One to five, no team in the AL West is better than the A's in terms of pitching. The Angels tried to address their deficiencies with outsiders Jason Vargas, Tommy Hanson, and Joe Blanton. Good luck. They aren't on the level of the departed Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana.
Meanwhile, Texas has issues with a lack of starting pitching and the potential issues with Nelson Cruz being implicated in the most recent PED scandal in baseball. The reality is, Oakland's status quo is still the best in the division until proven otherwise. No team has the depth of pitching combined with a solid lineup one through nine in the division. Oakland doesn't have a Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish, or any other marquee name (though Yoenis Cespedes is darn close) yet.
What they still have is the best overall team in the American League West.