Just as they do every offseason, the Oakland Athletics must make decisions on key free agents, arbitration-eligible players and potential trades. Yet this year, the stakes are very high.
The A's are coming off a repeat AL West championship. Unfortunately, they are coming off a repeat ALDS Game 5 loss. The core of the team—Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes, the young pitchers in the starting rotation—are all returning. For others, such as Jed Lowrie, Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick, it's just a matter of how much they'll earn.
But after two years of coming so close to an ALCS, fans should expect more. Heck, management should now expect more too. In 2014, the goal must be to go further than the ALDS. It may even be World Series or bust. Hence, the decisions made this offseason are crucial.
Here is a look at what general manager Billy Beane has to look forward to. I don't envy him.