Jarrod Parker, originally planned to be the Oakland A’s opening day starter, will most likely be sitting out the entire 2014 Season with the second Tommy John Surgery of his career. A.J. Griffin is likely out until June with “elbow discomfort”. Though some only look at the 46 Home Runs given up in his first two seasons, Griffin also owns a career record of 21-11, 3.60 ERA , and threw more innings then any other pitcher on the team (2013 Season) with an even 2oo innings. Parker was not far behind with the second most at 197 innings pitched. That is a lot of production to lose so close to Opening Day. Two big blows for the A’s pitching staff without question, but this is what the Oakland A’s are all about aren’t they? Diversity? More importantly in this case, the Oakland A’s are and have always been about pitching depth.
(Parker Above, Griffin to the Right).
Pitchers like Tommy Milone, and Jesse Chavez are being given spots in the starting rotation. A rotation of Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Dan Straily, Milone, and Chavez may look less then stellar to some who don’t know these pitchers like A’s fans do. Many forget that Tommy Milone was the #3 starter in the 2012 Season behind Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon before Parker and Griffin were around. Throwing a team high 190 innings, Milone was a solid contributor. Posting a 13-10 record and a 3.74 ERA. The big question is, can Tommy Milone get back to the pitcher he was in 2012? (Milone shown below)
Every A’s fan remembers that Jesse Chavez game. The game where Jesse came in and pitched 5 shutout innings (adding 7 K’s and only 1 hit) in relief to beat the perennial Yankees. It was one of the more impressive relief efforts in recent A’s memory as the game went 18 innings and both teams were running out of pitching options. Already in the 13th inning the A’s had but one pitcher left in their bullpen, it was Chavez. Surely having no idea the game would go 18 innings Jesse was up to the task. Sitting down Yankee after Yankee, it felt like he pitched a lot longer than 5.2 innings. Maybe that’s because it was near 2 am and I was fighting the sand man by game’s end. Chavez became the long reliever “guy” after that. The big question is, can he convert these long reliever sessions into quality starts?
(Bob Melvin on left & Jesse Chavez on right)
Let’s not forget about the other side of the ball. It has now become inevitable for the A’s lineup to start producing. Yoenis Cespedes has now completed two MLB seasons, and heading into his third. Brought in on a big contract, something the A’s are not accustomed to doing, Cespedes needs to live up to it. In a down year statistically last season, we saw flashes of greatness from the “Cuban Missile”. Winning the 2013 MLB Home Run Derby, Cespedes absolutely crushed his competition, and the first Oakland Athletic since Mark McGwire in 1992 to win the big show. Not only that, Cespedes was by far the most consistent batter the A’s had in the 2013 ALDS against the American League Champion Tigers posting at least 1 hit in every game of the series, the only player on the team to do so. Coco Crisp is the teams lead off batter and well known “spark plug”, but Cespedes needs to be the teams rock. Coco is the reason a team can get into the playoffs, but a player like Cespedes could be the reason you win, in the playoffs. Throw Reddick into the mix as another player that needs to bounce back with a big bat, and match his offensive play with his stellar defensive play. Reddick comes up with some of the most eye popping catches you will ever see, but the lack of his offensive production last season almost diminishes his defensive efforts. Each of these players bring the components you look for in an All Star and team leader. Power, speed, great defense and quite possibly the most important attribute, charisma. These three will be the reason the offensive unit ultimately succeeds or fails.
(From left to right, Cespedes, Crisp, Reddick)There you have it. Some are already calling the Oakland A’s 2014 campaign a defeat on the horizon with the early injuries. True A’s fans know better. We know it’s never over until it’s over. The A’s have never been a team to win or lose because of individuals, the A’s are a team that win based on opportunities given in the moment. Anyone can answer the call of the doubters, but the question is, who? and when?