A preview of the 2006 oakland athletics

A Preview of the 2006 Oakland Athletics

2005 Overview:

The Oakland Athletics finished the 2004 season with an impressive 91-71 record ending the year only 1 full game behind the division leading Angels. Unfortunately, the 2005 season didn’t end up quite as well for Oakland as they finished up the year with a final 88-74 record, 7 games behind the AL West Champion Los Angeles Angels.

Despite some very shaky starting pitching the 2005 A’s bullpen kept the team in contention entering the 2nd half of the season. Thanks to relievers Hudson Street (5-1 1.72 23 saves) and Justin Duchscherer (7-4 2.21) both of who appeared in a combined 70 games prior to the all star break. The starting pitching was led by Barry Zito (14-13 3.86), Joe Blanton (12-12 3.53) and Rich Harden (10-5 2.53).  Newly acquired Danny Haren (14-12 3.73) also contributed while starter Kirk Saarloos (10-9 4.17) stepped up his game in 2005 by winning 10 games for the first time in his young 4-year career.

The 2005 Athletics’ offense production was led by outfielder Mark Kotsay (.280 15 82), 3rd baseman Eric Chavez (.269 27 101) and outfielder Nick Swisher (.236 21 74) Newcomer outfielder Jay Payton (.269 13 42), who was acquired midseason from the Boston Red Sox also helped stabilize the starting lineup.  The offensive surprise of the season was rookie 1st baseman Dan Johnson (.275 15 58) who was called up in late May.

Off Season Moves:

The Oakland A’s had a busy off season first by signing free agent pitchers Jay Witasick (1-5 2.84), Matt Rooney (1-5 5.45) and starter Esteban Loaiza (12-10 3.77). The A’s also picked up reliever Chad Gaudin (1-3 in 5 games) via trade from the Blue Jays as well as outfielders Milton Bradley (.290 13 38) and Antonio Perez (.297 3 23) in trades with the LA Dodgers. Free Agent Frank Thomas was also signed from the World Champion White Sox (.219 12 26) to help complete the 2005 lineup.

2006 Analysis:

The A’s need strong starting pitching in 2006 if they hope to compete. The bullpen cannot be relied on as heavily to keep Oakland in contention. Esteban Loaiza should be a good pickup to help solidify the rotation. Barry Zito is on the last year of his contract and GM Billy Beane has been known to dump contracts before losing players to the free agent market. He has been shopping Zito around on a limited basis and has made it know that he will listen to offers, so it will be interesting to see how things shake out. The bullpen is strong and Witasick will help make it stronger. Milton Bradley’s addition is a nice pickup as is Frank Thomas who the A’s a hoping will rebound after he played in only 35 games in 2005. Bradley also had limited at bats in 2005, appearing in only 75 games. The pickup of the young 3rd baseman Antonio Perez will also help. Expect the A’s to be in contention if they can get consistent starting pitching. The offense should be fine – look for 1st baseman Dan Johnson to blossom in his sophomore season.

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