In trading away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Derek Norris, the previously homer-happy A's could potentially have a power outage on their hands. Josh Reddick, though, had a very strong second half in 2014, posting a line of .299/.337/.533 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs. If he's able to keep that going once '15 rolls around, he could provide some much-needed outfield power. Newcomers Brett Lawrie (12 HRs in 70 games in 2014) and Billy Butler (just 24 HRs total over the past two years) are wild cards too, as both could conceivably reignite their power stroke. The BIGGEST potential spark, however, is Ike Davis, who clubbed 32 HRs for the Mets in 2012.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsKyle Terada
What about that rotation?
After Sonny Gray (pictured) and Scott Kazmir, the rotation does have some questions. Jesse Hahn (7-4 with a 3.04 ERA and an FIP of 3.40 in 2014 with the Padres) will fit in nicely in the #3 spot, but the remaining two (or three?) spots could be filled by Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz, new additions Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman and/or Brad Mills. And don't forget about A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker. both are coming back from Tommy John surgeries and should be able to contribute sometime in the first few months, though it's unclear what their roles could realistically be (Parker especially, since this is his second TJ operation). All this to say: the A's project to have a lot of rotation depth, which is definitely a good problem to have.
Getty ImagesOtto Greule Jr
Can Semien last as a full-time shortstop?
Marcus Semien, acquired in the Samardzija trade from Chicago, has extensive experience at shortstop in his minor league career (250 games over four seasons). However, he's only played there in six games since making the Majors. Whether or not he can fully re-acclimate himself to shortstop is a key question for the A's in Spring Training, as they have options if he isn't capable of retaining the everyday job. Ben Zobrist could slide over there due to his flexibility, and even incumbent infielder Eric Sogard could find some time there if push comes to shove. At just 24, Semien has a high ceiling (and many years of team control). It will be important to see what kind of impression he makes once Spring Training rolls around.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsRick Osentoski
Recent news of Sean Doolittle's rotator cuff injury will put the A's All-Star closer out of commission until at least a few weeks after Opening Night. 'Doo's injury opens the door for Tyler Clippard, acquired in mid-January, as a potential closing option. Clippard picked up 32 saves for the Washington Nationals in 2012, so he has experience at the back end of the 'pen. Beyond Clippard & Doolittle, the bullpen projects to be pretty strong once again in 2015, though the issues of 'roles' remains. What happens to Ryan Cook? Is he relegated to a seventh-inning option? And what about Eric O'Flaherty? Will he be able to shoulder an increased load after limited responsibility in 2014, coming back from Tommy John surgery?.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY SportsKelley L Cox
What will Coco be able to do?
Coco Crisp's 2014 was derailed by injuries, including a freak neck issue that occured when he ran into the right-center field wall pursuing a flyball. Crisp only played in 126 games in '14, slashing .246/.336/.363 in 536 PAs. His WAR took a dive from 4.3 in 2013 to 0.8 in 2014, partially impacted by his inability to be as big a defensive catalyst as he has been previously in his career. At 35, Crisp is probably 'declining', especially as far as an 'everyday centerfielder' is concerned. Whether that should be his role in 2015 will be something the A's have to decide before the season officially begins.
Lance Iversen-USA TODAY SportsLance Iversen
What to expect from Brett Lawrie
The linchpin in the Josh Donaldson-to-Toronto trade, Brett Lawrie is assuming the third base role that J.D. anchored so impressively for the past few seasons. The dig on Lawrie has always been durability. His hard-nosed, everything-or-nothing playing style has led to a few injuries, limiting him to a career-high of 125 games (in 2012). He only managed 70 games in 2014, as a host of issues kept him off the field consistently. Moving from turf to grass could do wonders for his health, so there's a decent chance he is able to stay on the field more in 2015.
Will Beane's gambles pay off in the strong A.L. West?
Billy Beane reinvented the wheel yet again this offseason, totally overhauling the roster in an effort to remain competitive. The problem with that is Beane's A.L. West foes are all arguably stronger themselves. The Mariners improved their offense in a bid to finally make the postseason, the Astros attempted to supercharge their rebuiliding process with some smart acquisitions, the Angels will get Garrett Richards back and the Rangers should have an easier time health-wise in 2015. On paper, the A's should be 'competitive' - or even better than that, if things go right. It should be a fun ride once again either way.